Craig Longhurst & Gregorio Ruggeri moved to New York in spring of 2010. Craig studied Architecture and Interior Design at RMIT, also worked about 16 years in sales & marketing for international furniture companies in AP and started his own ID practice in 2005. Greg started his apprenticeship in hairdressing in Paddington in early 90’s and opened his first salon in Sydney in 2005. They live and work in NoMad since April this year.
Tell us a bit about your and Greg’s professional background and how it has culminated into Salon Ruggeri.
Greg started at Torquil Murray in Paddington and then completed his apprenticeship at Helmet in Darlinghurst where he worked with the very talented Stephen Price. It was during this time I returned from working in HK and first met Greg. He had just returned from his first visit to NYC and we spent hours at a party chatting about NYC and how we both would love to live there. Our relationship grew and we kept having discussions about what Greg’s salon would be like if, and when, he opened one. In 2004 we bought and old corner shop and residence in the then up and coming Redfern. In 2005 we opened Salon Ruggeri. I designed the interior for the ground floor salon and we lived upstairs where I also worked doing my private interior clients. A staffing issue resulted in me helping out in the salon and the rest is history; we have worked together ever since.
What makes your salon unique?
I think we are unique because of the two disciplines that we both bring to the business. Greg is the master of color and very focused on his clients; they come first no matter what. I not only manage the business but also bring the design aesthetic to our interiors and strongly believe ‘The Devil is in the Detail’. We have a more residential environment to our salon and try to make the client enjoy the experience of being in the salon as much as enjoying the experience of having their hair done. With our new space on Fifth Avenue, in what was originally a townhouse, we have restored the old fireplaces we discovered during demolition, and created intimate lounge areas. We have also added a small retail area that showcases our hair accessories that we have developed and produced with Ciner, one of NYC’s oldest jewelry manufacturers, along with other accessories, collectables and art.
What inspired your move to New York and what's your favorite part of living in the city now?
We had both fallen in love with NYC before we met and then after our first visit together to NYC in 2005 we decided that we had to move here. It took a while to work it out but we eventually did it. Favorite part? Waking up to the sunrise view over the east side with Empire State Building to our left, walking to work in NoMad, working long hours like every New Yorker, the wonderful, talented and interesting people we meet through the salon, impromptu dinners with friends, the great theater experiences and leaving this pressure cooker for our country house on the weekends.
Where in Australia is 'home' and what do you miss most about it?
Home for me was Sydney and Melbourne and for Greg it was Sydney. We miss spending time with my sister and Greg’s wonderful family that includes his niece and nephew who are growing up so very quickly.
Can you share some advice for people thinking of moving their business from Australia to New York?
Know your competition, identify what is unique about your business, develop a detailed business plan with financial goals for each year, and be prepared to work like you have never worked before. Most of all, enjoy the experience as it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
You've moved the salon from Sydney, to Chelsea, to Murray Hill and now you're in NoMad, how has the salon has evolved with the various neighborhoods?
Sydney was the testing ground for NYC and was just three chairs and one basin so that everything we did we thought about how that would work here from décor, to tea and coffee we served to client management and PR. Chelsea was a 3rd floor walk-up in a townhouse and we were back to square one with no clients and only two chairs and one basin. We expanded into my office on the same floor within the first year and then had four chairs. The landlord sold the building and after only 2 yrs we had 45 days to find new space. Hence, the townhouse in Murray Hill. It was much more grand but gave us little room to grow the business with still only four chairs and one basin. Fifth Avenue is the first space we have designed for us since Sydney and allowed us to change our business model to now sell the accessories, etc. Through all those moves we have only lost a few clients but oddly gain clients as you appear in a new area.
What does a typical day for you to look like?
Up at 5.30am to walk our dog Nina, then down to the 25th floor to go to the gym, we have breakfast at the dining table while we check emails, the diary for the day and I get to read NY Times and Sydney Morning Herald online. First client is usually 8am if not earlier. Greg is booked back-to-back every day and usually finishes around 9pm except Saturday when he gets to finish around 5pm. My day is everything from time with our CFO doing accounts, staffing, projections and planning forward for our next venture. Meetings with Ciner about production of our accessories, making time to talk to clients which I wish I had more time to do, helping out when things get busy from making coffee to sweeping the floor, making sure my husband eats, and working on my private clients. We usually finish our day 10.30pmish.
What is the most exciting project you are working on right now?
Developing our accessories range that is going live on the app ‘Spring’ this week!
Are you able to share a couple of 'only in New York' moments you've had? (Could be a particular client or project outside of the salon you've had the opportunity to work on etc.)
There are so many ‘Only in New York’ moments that you almost forget them. One of Greg’s was when a new client flew him to Lake Como for four days to just do her hair and make-up for her wedding and events. Mine was being photographed by Bill Cunningham not long after arriving which was a long time wish come true and only in New York.
How can people find out more about your salon and keep up to date with your activities?
The best way to find out more about the salon is to visit us. Or, you can visit our website www.ruggerinyc.com.