The Fantastic Sams Story

Meet the visionary barber who created the first unisex salon franchise

Barbershop customers came back time after time, year after year. Clients went to the barbershops in their neighborhoods or on their way to work — it was convenient; it was affordable. It was familiar. Sam came up with a seemingly obvious idea that no one had thought of before: Why not offer those services to the whole family? So in July 1974, he opened one of the first unisex salons that offered the whole family the formula that worked in a barbershop: convenience, affordability and familiarity. Two years later, he started franchising his concept, making Fantastic Sams the first nationally franchised unisex hair salon.

As for the name, the story goes that as Sam Ross finished a particularly deft cut on someone in his chair, the client said, “That’s fantastic, Sam!” and a legacy was born.

“He felt it could be a place for kids to get their hair cut, where men could get barber-style service and women could get a whole range of basic salon services — cuts, color, waxing — at an affordable price,” says Linda Chadwick, CEO, of the company’s late founder. “It would be a convenient, one-stop salon where people would be loyal. As a result, the majority of our customer base is families.”

Salon franchising – the future of Fantastic Sams

Much like the hair care industry, Fantastic Sams has gone through many changes over the years. In 2012, we undertook our most exciting transformation yet when international style brand Dessange International acquired our company. We continue to be excited about the opportunities to aggressively grow our Fantastic Sams salons across the country. We currently have nearly 1,100 salons in the U.S., and our goal is to double that number in the next few years.


Dessange is known throughout Europe as a high-end, cutting-edge trendsetter in the area of hairstyles. Evidence of that innovation comes in the form of our New Image Salon — a top-to-bottom redesign of the Fantastic Sams salon experience that includes new logos, imaging, and a sleek, ultra-modern salon interior designed to invoke the feeling of a high-end salon experience without the high-end salon price.

Though we still embrace the operational philosophy envisioned by our founder, today’s Fantastic Sams is not the same brand you or your parents grew up with. We not only offer haircuts and styles. We also provide processes like perms, straightening and color, as well as facial waxing. We sell affordable, quality products to our customers so they can maintain their styles and keep their hair healthy between appointments. Customers love us because we make them look great. Franchisees love us because they can start the business quickly and easily add more salons to increase their return on investment and build their net worth.


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