When you’ve been a mainstay in the area’s salon industry for almost four decades, surprising your clientele is going to take something really…different. One thing Cosmo DiSchino has never feared is taking a risk. Ever since opened his original downtown West Palm Beach location after arriving from Boston’s famed Newbury Street, Cosmo has been the man behind the chair. He is the mastermind, the owner, the motivator, and the mentor at Cosmo & Company.
Always on the leading edge where fashion and beauty fuse, Cosmo & Company caters to a diverse clientele ranging from those who have been loyal customers since the salon opened its doors in 1989, to bold-faced names who slip in for a private appointment during the social season and your favorite news anchors, to year-round residents of every age, profession, and style, from conservative to right-off-the-runway.
So when Cosmo and his salon managers, Kathy Silver and Nadia DiSChino-Yazinka, realized it was time for the salon’s website to upgrade to match its new waterfront location on Flagler Drive overlooking Palm Beach, Cosmo already knew one element he wanted incorporated into the new site: videos. He envisioned each member of the staff recording a short intro so that visitors to the site who had never been to the salon could not only read bios on his 27 employees (as well as his own), but could also actually see more than just a still photo — they could see that person speaking directly to them, extending an invitation to come to the salon and avail themselves of whatever that person’s speciality might be.
When we sat down for our first creative meeting with Cosmo, we knew that we needed to capture the essence of what the wildly busy salon with the contemporary/elegant atmosphere is like and translate that into a visual representation for the website — but we also realized that we had some real personalities that would lend themselves to something more than 15- or 30-second video bios. We needed a website that was clean and bright, yet kinetic. We would address that in the color palette, the navigation, and by using a J-Query slideshow that would create movement and the same sense of energy one feels in the salon.
We also realized we had a cast of characters — a variety of people who could sit down and do a true interview, resulting in longer-form clips that would really capture how unique Cosmo and the members of his “family” (as he calls them) are as people, some of them with decades of history at the salon. They had fabulous stories, interesting backgrounds, and distinct personalities that could be captured in a way that would allow someone to watch a video and say, “THAT’S the person who is going to understand me and what I want.”
In a single-day shoot, Alchemy pulled together a team consisting of still photographer Dana Hoff, videographer Scott Zimmer of DreamShop Digital Arts and his second cameraman, with Steve shooting behind-the-scenes stills and directing, and Kelly acting as the day’s James Lipton, interviewing Cosmo and three other staffers for the long-form pieces, and lending support as the person off-camera each of the staff speaks to as they give their short biography, coaching them and offering encouragement.
“Even though it was just the Cosmo staff and our small crew, speaking into a camera lens can be daunting, no matter how easy you think it’s going to be,” Kelly says. “It’s just strangely awkward, so it helps to have someone standing right there next to the camera, blocking your view of the cameraman, making it into a conversation, helping to keep it feeling casual and a bit less weird.”
Going forward, the plan is to periodically shoot more of the longer video pieces, utilizing a mix of interviews and instructional/educational clips. Alchemy and its programming partner, Matt Kakuk at Localmanagement.us, created a YouTube channel for the salon where all of the Cosmo & Company clips were uploaded, and code written into the site to pull them back in for viewing either in Flash (in a separate area of the site) or HTML (so they can be viewed on smartphones).
“In order to capture the variety of personalities in Cosmo’s salon, we took a candid approach to filming, using three cameras,” says Steve. “That gave us room in the edit to pull out some behind-the-scenes moments, sometimes catching the subject off guard, laughing, repeating their story because they flubbed a word or tripped over what they meant to say, or realizing that they were fidgeting. All of these things come together and are intercut with the final footage so you get a sense of them as real people — both as consummate professionals committed to their craft, and as individuals from different places with varied experiences and tremendous energy.”
The site is also integrated with the salon’s back-end booking software, which allows patrons to schedule an appointment and create custom gift cards right on the website. The custom Content Management Software developed by Matt Kakuk allows the salon’s manager, Nadia, to create a variety of specials (tied to holidays, product lines, specific services, or sale/clearance items), add before-and-after images to a style gallery, add new product lines to the “What’s in Store” section of the site, and make changes to virtually all of the site’s text and images. It’s a level of freedom from having to depend on outside help that was another of the salon’s goals.