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New Business Report: A Date with Destiny

Couple to open men’s salon across from eatery where they first dated

Lori and David Bolton pose in front of the building on La Jolla Boulevard where they plan to open an 18/8 men’s salon franchise, directly across from the Mexican eatery where they had their first date, more than three decades ago.
Lori and David Bolton pose in front of the building on La Jolla Boulevard where they plan to open an 18/8 men’s salon franchise, directly across from the Mexican eatery where they had their first date, more than three decades ago.
Pat Sherman

Little did La Jolla native David Bolton know when he treated the apple of his eye to a “Special Cheese Crisp” at Verdes El Ranchero Mexican restaurant on La Jolla Boulevard that the date would take him from being a groom to being in the men’s grooming business.

More than 30 years and two children later, David and his date, today Lori Bolton, have returned to La Jolla to open a franchise location of 18/8 men’s hair salon in the two-story white building at Marine Street and La Jolla Boulevard. The couple, who reside in south Orange County, are working toward an August opening.

A native of Chicago, Lori decided to open her own business after she was laid off from her job as director of global accounts for VWR International, a laboratory supply and distribution company for manufacturers in the pharmaceutical, medical device and food and beverage industries.

“When I finally got serious, I asked David to join me at a meeting with my broker,” she said.

For years, David said he had his hair trimmed at either Supercuts or the salon where Lori gets her hair done.

“I’ve just always been uncomfortable in a women’s salon,” said David, who grew up on Kolmar Street in Bird Rock and was among the first graduating class at Torrey Pines High School in 1976. “You walk in and all the women look up and the chatter starts changing and you get the smell of the perm solution.”

Lori and David Bolton survey the space where they plan to open their 18/8 men’s hair salon franchise, at the corner of Marine Street and La Jolla Boulevard.
Lori and David Bolton survey the space where they plan to open their 18/8 men's hair salon franchise, at the corner of Marine Street and La Jolla Boulevard.
Pat Sherman

One day, an 18/8 location opened near the couple’s Rancho Santa Margarita home, and David, who works in the financial planning industry, sold the idea to Lori.

“I thought, ‘Wow, a men’s hair salon?’ ” he recalled. “My hair used to look hellishly bad. The first time I looked in the mirror after I got my hair cut at 18/8, not only had I enjoyed the experience, but I literally said, ‘I’m never going anywhere else.’ That’s how I felt about it — and that’s how I hope our clients are going to feel about it. … You walk in and it’s like an experience, and that’s what we’re hoping to make this — a great experience for guys to be in their own place and get great services.”

Lori said the business model fit the “niche market” model she was seeking. “I wanted something that would be resilient in a down economy,” she said. “You’re always going to have to get your hair cut.” The 18/8 franchises were sold out in Orange County and Irvine, where the business originated. “It was either go to Los Angeles or La Jolla,” Lori said. “Well, that wasn’t a hard decision.”

Although there is currently only one other 18/8 location in San Diego County, in 4S Ranch, another is set to open in downtown San Diego, and the Boltons also hope to open other locations locally.

Building owner Farid Trad, who resides in an apartment on the second floor, said 18/8 will be the flagship tenant in his building, occupying 1,800 square feet of interior space and about 400 square feet of ocean-view patio space for clients to relax and await their appointments.

Lori said 18/8 provides rigorous training and a career path for its employees. “I love the way they treat their employees,” she said, adding, “It’s a different technique than what you’ll see everywhere else.”

In addition to haircuts and hot lather shaves, 18/8 will offer premier services such as back waxing, facials, massages, scalp treatments and style consultations. Customers can purchase memberships that provide perks such as complimentary clean-ups and other bonus grooming services.

There are more than 20 locations of 18/8 in eight states. The company was co-founded by Scott Griffiths, a professor at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business who has lent his branding expertise to companies such as Paul Mitchell (Mitch for Men hair products), House of Blues, Crystal Cruises and Nokia.

“Lori is exactly the right entrepreneur to grow the brand in La Jolla,” said Griffiths, in a release. “Her business intellect is outstanding. She really understands our systematic growth approach and recognizes the strong demand for this particular salon brand to fill the niche locally.”

To learn more about 18/8, view a video about the company by clicking here.