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Atlantan Van Council Reflects on His 30-Plus Year Career

Henri Hollis | April 25, 2019 | People

Van Council turned a love for the movie Shampoo into one of the most successful boutique salons in America.


Van Council can point to a very specific time in his life that inspired his career. In 1975, when he was a junior in high school, he saw the Oscar Award-winning movie Shampoo. The film, reportedly based on true stories from Beverly Hills, is a day-in-the-life portrayal of a successful Hollywood hairdresser played by Warren Beatty. Growing up, Council wasn’t sure he had any awareness of fashion or hairdressing before seeing Shampoo.

“It sounds a little cheesy now, but that movie is what made me want to do hair,” says Council. “It was Warren Beatty; he had long hair and the cool clothes. He made house calls and had the whole Hollywood lifestyle.”

After graduating high school, Council went to a small beauty school off of Cheshire Bridge Road. In 1984, he and his brother Michael opened Van Michael Salon, now one of the country’s most successful boutique salon chains.

Council credits some of the business’ success to a partnership with Aveda in the early days of Van Michael Salon. As an ambassador for Aveda, he is able to travel around the country, showing off the brand’s products and recruiting top talent for Atlanta. Over the years, retaining that talent has been one of the keys to building Van Michael Salon into the powerhouse we see today.

“Probably the thing we’re most proud of is that, out of 400 employees, we’ve got about 120 that have been with us for 10 years, 25 with us for 20 years and six who have been with us 30 years,” says Council.

Van Michael Salon has enjoyed its long run of success—including the most recent addition, Van Michael Men—Council believes, because the team treats employees like family and help them grow in their careers. And while he may have started down his path thanks to the glitzy lifestyle portrayed by Warren Beatty, it’s the long-term relationships with employees and clients that have kept him in salons for more than 30 years.


Photography by: Patrick Heagney