I found out about Johnnie Sapong whilst researching London businesses that had an emphasis on experience. I am constantly on the lookout for people who dare to challenge the status quo and when I saw Johhnie’s project, The Studio, it really excited me. The website describes The Studio as, “A creative London hub where art, culture and style come together to create the most unique and individually tailored one on one hair appointments in the world, by one of the most loved and sought after international creative hair stylists, Johnnie Sapong.”
I contacted his PR agency and lined up an interview. I arrived at The Studio and made my way up to the top floor. On the way up the stairs, there were beautiful designs painted onto the walls like you would see with street art. It felt as if I had gone through the rabbit hole and couldn’t decide which path to take. When I arrived in The Studio, there were other cool features that reflected the atmosphere of the gallery.
Johnnie arrived and we entered through a door that was designed the same as the wallpaper so it appeared to be a secret opening. We talked for over an hour and what I loved was the fact that the questions I had prepared went out of the window in favour of a real conversation. The topics meandered from entrepreneurship to London, New York, art, culture, travelling and of course hair styling. He told me that what he wanted with The Studio was to create a one-to-one experience that went beyond the cost of the haircut. He was trying to form a relationship with his clientele and create an experience that they would otherwise be unable to get in other salons. He observed the masses and did the opposite; instead of a full service salon, he made a bespoke studio where you are surrounded by interesting art and have all the privacy you could ask for in London.
What really interested me was the way that Johnnie kept stressing the fact that it was the time and personal service that was the key. It was not the cost of treatments. A neat add-on for clients is that they become part of Johnnie’s network following an appointment. As he has cut the hair of the likes of Brad Pitt and Sienna Miller, this is something that might be very appealing.
Following our chat, Johnnie gave me a tour of The Studio and showed me a table that had been designed by Invader, an influential street artist. On one of the other floors, there was a great section with art from Jonathan Yeo and Antony Micallef. The ground floor of the Lazarides Gallery had exposed brick and pieces from Bast and was really inspirational.
When most people would have called timeout, Johnnie thought of somebody I should meet, gave him a quick call and then walked me over to his nearby exhibition. I’ll talk about who he introduced me to in my next blog post.
Johnnie Sapong – a true gentleman and an absolute enigma.