Michael Levine and Liz Abreu met in 1995 while apprenticing at a well-known Vancouver salon. The couple got engaged and opened their first salon, called Statik, in Gastown in 1998. Adopting a business philosophy of creating culture by developing talent through apprenticeship rather than hiring talent from other local salons, they eventually moved to a 2000 sq.foot space on the South Granville Rise.
Quickly outgrowing this location, they opened Caramel Salon directly across the street from Statik in 2005. The new salon brand was an immediate hit with clients and media, placing in the top 3 in the “Best Of” issues of the Georgia Straight and having several listings in Fashion Magazine’s “Best of Canada” issues. Everyone loved the location, warm interior design and industry leading standard of service, which had been developed for years by the couple and their team. A second location of Caramel opened in South Surrey in 2012.
After 11 years, on July 30 this iconic salon is closing its doors in Vancouver.
Due to the economic stress of brick and mortal retail business on the west side of Vancouver, Caramel simply can no longer be profitable in this location. Size limitations of the physical space and the fact that the lease rate and city taxes have caused fixed rent expenses to triple since opening, those expenses can not be passed on to the clients of the salon through increased service pricing.
“There are many wonderful choices for hair salons in Vancouver, and pricing must remain competitive with other top-end salons in the city,” says Levine.
The stylists at Caramel have all been offered a position with the company’s much larger other Vancouver salon location, Space Salon, located just 5 minutes away on Broadway at Cambie. Space is an award-winning salon opened by the couple in 2010 located in the Eminence building, across the street from London Drugs, Lululemon Lab and Whole Foods. Clients can expect the same high standard of service in a newer, larger, brighter location. While Caramel’s closing is a bitter pill to swallow for the couple, the entire company is excited about new opportunities created by combining the strength of the two salons into one. And this isn’t the first time the duo has closed a location or a brand.
“We have opened nine salons since we started,” Levine states. “We see our salons and brands as part of the fashion industry; where things come and go. We’ve opened and closed salons called Statik, Tao and are now closing Caramel. While it’s been our longest running salon brand, it has run it’s course.
Now with Space, we don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of what is possible. The salon and brand is amazing.”
This merging of the two powerhouse salons also allows the couple to focus more energy into the growth of their award-winning hairdressing school, the Vancouver Hairdressing Academy as well as their hair product company, aptly named “Product.”
After training countless of Vancouver’s most successful hairstylists, winning 6 Canadian Hairstylist of the Year Awards and being 4-time finalists at the North American Hairstylist of the Year Awards, Michael and Liz are incredibly proud of everything they have accomplished in a challenging city, and view this move as a positive for their company and their team.
Levine summarizes, “All Liz and I have ever tried to do was to teach and inspire people to have an incredible life through hairdressing. I have achieved nearly all of my childhood dreams as a hairdresser and I want to share that experience. We like to think that we have improved the lives of so many people as well as having helped raise the bar in Vancouver’s dynamic hairdressing community.”
The majority of the Senior and Master stylist team from Caramel can be found at Space starting August 1st.
Space is located at 528 West Broadway
Call 6046811444 for inquires and reservations