To differentiate Ziba stores from hair salons, architect Jas Nakaoka took out rows of mirrors and sinks and replaced them with huge photos. The intention? To pique the curiosity of passersby. "Not everyone knows about threading, so if we can get them to ask what it is, we're halfway there," he says. Added bonuses: lower water bills and more room for staff to maneuver.
This proved to be a hassle. Ziba cycled through white lab coats (they picked up hair), black coats (too hot), and Indian-style kurti tops (a dry-cleaning nightmare). Importing real Nehru jackets took too long. "By the time the right sizes were delivered, three of the 11 managers had left," says CEO Sumita Batra. She settled on black T-shirts.
"The first mall store was painted a dark, earthy red with kind of a musty green pattern," says Nakaoka, who opted for a cleaner palette with dark brown wood accented in crisp white paint and an entire wall draped in cream-colored fringe. "It's feminine, but not overtly so," he says.
Ziba's original logo was a riff on the Om symbol, a mystical Sanskrit character. The new logo emphasizes the brand name. "My design team helped me realize we weren't Nike yet," says Batra. "We couldn't replace our name with a swoosh."
Ziba's original entryway was "pleasant and overtly ethnic," Nakaoka says. Arguing for a subtler approach, he limited the Indian accents to the waiting area, where he placed a wall featuring a henna tattoo pattern etched in mirror-polished steel.