Dayton Mast began cutting hair at a young age, but over the years, has found himself in the company of celebrities, socialites, and some of the hottest talent in the beauty industry.
Dayton Mast, owner of L’Image Salon in the North Dallas Corridor, started doing hair at a very young age. In the early ‘60s, his mother paid a visit to his older sister in Omaha and, while there, had her naturally wavy hair professionally styled for the first time. It was a very Italian top ‘do, and Dayton thought she looked incredible.
Dayton’s mother told him that, even though she liked her new look, she would never be able to do it herself. It required using rollers – something very new at the time. Dayton told her he could help her roll it so she could keep her newly-acquired ‘do perfectly. That’s how it began. He started rolling, perming, playing with hair color and cutting with a Double Duck razor that his sister sent him from California for Christmas.
Dayton’s first salon was an enclosed porch in his family home. It wasn’t long and he was doing lots of hair in his small home town of Gibbon, Nebraska. After his salon quickly grew in popularity, it became apparent that he would need to get a license if he wanted to continue this business.
Dayton told his parents that he wanted to go to hairdressing school at nights and on Saturdays – all while still in high school. His father wasn’t completely receptive to the idea and worried that Dayton wouldn’t attend college if he became a hairdresser. After convincing him that it would be a great way to pay for college, Dayton enrolled at Queen Ann’s School of Cosmetology in Kearney, Nebraska, in the summer before his sophomore year of high school. By his senior year of high school, Dayton had graduated from Queen Ann’s, received his license and began working for Nell Brinkman, the owner of the school and a salon. On the day of his senior prom, Dayton did 17 of his classmates’ hair, including his date, Ann Rosenthal. His work took in a total of $65.
In 1968, true to his word, Dayton went to Southern Methodist University and began working for Neiman Marcus at North Park Mall as a stylist the same week as classes started. Dayton received a BFA degree in Screen Writing and Film Arts. He designed hair for the theatre department and took classes with great people like Kathy Bates, Powers Boothe, Patricia Richardson, Steven Tobolowsky and Beth Henley. He designed hair for productions at SMU like King Lear, Royal Hunt of the Sun, Arsenic and Old Lace with Kathy Bates. He continued working for Neiman Marcus until two years after graduation.
After leaving Neiman Marcus, Dayton worked for two years for Marie Leavell on Lovers Lane. Following that experience, he opened his first salon on Harvard Avenue. It was a huge success.
“I learned great business practices from my six years with Neiman’s,” he says. “At that time, Stanley Marcus was on the floor all the time. Neiman’s only had three locations and our salon was considered to be the best in the city. The salon at Marie Leavell was also a great place to learn about the specialty store business. It was high volume and very fashion forward. Retailing was a part of the salon business, and it has continued to be a part of my business philosophy to this day. Our salon and Cosmetique were featured in Sam Brocato’s book, The Beautiful Business, as the example of great retailing in a salon environment.”
The salon on Harvard Avenue opened May 18, 1977, with a clear mission statement: European Inspiration, American Talent, and Universal Imagination.
“We were one of the first salons to specialize in ‘Total Makeover,’” Dayton says. “I have been fortunate to have many great talents like Paul Neinast, Randy Moore, Gary Cox, Kurt Anderson, Dale Collins and many more work for me. I opened L’Image in 1977 next to the World Cycle Bicycle store on Harvard Avenue. That year, Javier opened across the street and Alberto Lombardi opened down McKinney Avenue. It was a good year in Dallas!”
One of Dayton’s favorite moments was the salon opening on a beautiful day in May 1977. His parents and sisters were there, and the party went until 3 a.m.
L’Image Salon was one of the first salons in Texas to have a membership with Intercoiffure Mondial. It received awards and recognitions from major publications like Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Instyle and D Magazine, to name a few.
In 1979, the second L’Image location was opened at the Village on the Parkway, with a retail and spa location next door. Scenes from television’s hit “Dallas” were filmed outside their windows.
“Linda Gray gave her first kiss to the young Christopher Atkins in front of L’Image,” Dayton says. “The world saw it and saw our name above the Mercedes parked in front of our salon.”
L’Image evolved from a small 1,400-square-foot space to four locations, a retail store, day spa, products and more. In the early ‘90s, L’Image employed nearly 100 people.
Celebrities like singer Grace Jones have spent many a day with the L’Image staff in their 34 years of business. One of Dayton’s other great thrills was when he was travelling in France touring the Loire Valley. He was in the town of Saumur and saw one of his hairstyles blown up and hanging in a very nice salon. Dayton has also had the opportunity to spend time with Messier Alexandre of Paris at the Museum of Hairdressing in Paris and has attended a dinner with Princess Caroline in Monaco for Intercoiffure. Dayton says his life has been full of great moments.
But life is especially good now.
“We have gone back to our roots, no pun intended,” he says. “I am so lucky to work and be with my partner, Cremmen Peters, every day. He makes the salon and my life run beautifully and smoothly. Also, talents like my long-time business partner Michiko Miller who has been with me for almost 30 years, and our staff members including Angela, Alice, Niko, Joan, Teresa, Edna, Afsaneh, Roni and Gabriel make every day special.”
Today, L’Image is operated out of a single salon on Inwood Road in the North Dallas Corridor.
“It is very much like my first,” Dayton says. “Small, intimate, a true atelier. I work with great people every day. Many of our people have been working with me for 10, 15, and 20 years. We still do quality, high-fashion hair, as well as skin care, massage and nail care.”
The L’Image boutique is always filled with the newest and greatest fashion separates, jewelry, hair accessories and scented products. The Mast-Peters line of original hair care products, candles and aroma diffusers is very popular and is expanding to other stores as we speak.
“I think our success has always been based on simple principles, those being great customer service, always keeping current with the newest and best trends, and loving the work,” Dayton says. “It’s great to go to work every day and make someone look and feel better.”
So what does Dayton say is the most important piece of his business?
“My incredible clients and friends,” he says. “Without them, I am nothing. I truly have the best clients in the world. They are the reason we exist!”
-By Addison Magazine