The Fantastic Sams Story

How Fantastic Sams created the first unisex salon franchises, and how we continue to lead the way

Barbershops have always had a lot of appeal and a loyal clientele, because customers can get what they need quickly and at a reasonable price. Fantastic Sams founder Sam Ross observed the barbershop phenomenon and thought, why not offer those services to the whole family? So in July 1974, he opened one of the first unisex salons that offered everyone the barbershop formula of convenience, affordability and familiarity. In 1976, he began franchising his concept, making Fantastic Sams the first national unisex hair salon franchise.

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

Fantastic Sams franchise hair salons and happy customers

“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 Bob Loffredo, Chief Development Officer.  “It would be a convenient, one-stop salon where people would be loyal. As a result, the majority of our customer base is families.”

Much more than a kids’ hair salon

Fantastic Sams helps make things easier for busy parents with tight schedules, because it just makes more sense to have the whole family get their hair cut in one salon. That makes it very convenient for a client to make an appointment for their own cut and color, bring the kids along, and while one stylist attends to the parent, another is working on the kids. Everyone leaves together, looking fantastic.

There are kids hair salon franchises out there that specialize in children’s haircuts, but our stylists are trained to accommodate everyone.

Why not just a men’s hair salon?

Men love barbershops because they can walk in, get their hair cut and their beards trimmed, and walk out again to get on with their day. Fantastic Sams emulated this part of the barbershop experience early on because our founder knew the walk-in experience was an aspect everyone could appreciate.

When salons specialize in just one type of customer, they’re cutting themselves out of the potential revenue streams that an all-service salon like ours can take advantage of.

Redefining hair salon franchises

In 2012, we became a part of Dessange International, the premium-luxury European salon chain. The core of what we do and who we are remains the same, but with Dessange International, Fantastic Sams has entered an unprecedented period of growth. We currently have nearly 1,100 salons in the U.S., and our goal is to double that number in the next few years.

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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, imagery and a sleek, ultra-modern salon interior designed to feel like a high-end salon experience without the high-end salon price.

We embrace the operational philosophy envisioned by our founder while continuing to innovate. We not only offer haircuts and styles. We also provide processes like perms, straightening and color, as well as facial waxing. We sell salon-quality products to our clients, which helps provide an additional revenue stream to our franchisees. Clients 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.

To learn more about Fantastic Sams salon franchises, please explore our research pages. You can also fill out the no-obligation form on this page to start a conversation with one of our franchise development representatives.

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