A happy trio: Philip Broomhead (l) and Trey Gillen pose with Pee Wee, their Pomeranian, whose tresses blend in beautifully at Tre Spa. Photo: LauriePerez.com.
Where they really are artists
by Marene Gustin
Creative hair and makeup design can often cross over into the realm of art. But in the case of Tre Spa salon, the people you’ll run into are artists in other fields as well.
“I think I look for an inner artist in all my staff,” says stylist/owner Trey Gillen. “Haphazardly we ended up hiring a lot of dancers, and we’ve also got a photographer and a model. I encourage them to keep up their art—it keeps them creative in the salon.”
Gillen himself is a graduate of The Juilliard School at New York’s Lincoln Center, made his Broadway debut in Twyla Tharp’s Movin’ Out, and recently auditioned for Theatre Under the Stars’s Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
“But it’s hard to audition when you’re the only one there over 25,” Gillen says. “And I’m not in the best shape because I don’t take class any more.”
Clients might also recognize Tre Spa’s managing director Philip Broomhead. Or maybe not, since he now has spiky platinum hair instead of the brown locks he sported as a principal dancer with Houston Ballet for 13 years.
“Change of job, change of hair,” he says in his British accent.
Gillen and Broomhead met in 2009 when Gillen came to Houston in the road show of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Broomhead, who retired from dancing in 2004, was the ballet master for Houston Ballet. It wasn’t long before Gillen moved to Houston, and they’ve been a couple ever since. Gillen, who trained as a stylist in New York under celebrity stylist Garren, began work at Urban Retreat and occasionally performed in musicals at TUTS.
It was a perfect match—two artists with dance backgrounds, the reserved British Broomhead and the outgoing Gillen, complementing each other. And what works at home apparently works in business as well.
Their collaboration in Tre Spa started last year when Broomhead retired from the ballet.
“I’d been wanting to leave for a while,” he says. “I miss the people there, I really do. But being a ballet master is very hard work and it just wasn’t really me. What I do now in the ballet world [he coaches, choreographs, and judges ballet competitions] is more of what I want to do.”
What he didn’t think he wanted to do was run a beauty salon. But about the same time he decided to retire from Houston Ballet, Gillen decided he wanted to open his own salon.
“So it all just magically fell into place,” Broomhead says. “It was 10 weeks from making the decision until we opened Tre Spa.”
The salon is located in Rice Village, on Sunset Boulevard near Kirby Drive, in an old house with a cozy mix of modern Euro designs and hardwood floors. The chairs are Italian, the artwork local, the wallpaper English. It’s all a beautiful blend of contemporary and classic, including the nod to Texas culture with a mounted ceramic deer and moose heads from Z Gallerie.
Gillen and Broomhead collaborated on the interior design and Broomhead, a self-professed handyman, did a lot of the work himself. As managing director, he now handles the books. “It’s been a real learning curve,” he says. “And this wasn’t what I thought I’d be doing, but I’ve really enjoyed it.”
And if he someday does return to ballet as artistic director of a company, he says the business background will serve him well. But for now, Tre Spa is his main focus. “Having a business is like having a baby,” Gillen says. “The reason Philip and I were both so successful in our previous careers is that we both gave 100 percent.
“And that’s what we’re doing now. We’re still very connected to the art world, but we are focused on the salon. Every morning we have business meetings at home over coffee and Good Morning America. Sometimes it’s just ‘we need to weed the flower beds in front of the salon—who’s going to do that and when do we have the time?’”
The salon, which is open seven days a week, is certainly a time suck—but also a labor of love for the couple. And owning a business has the added advantage of letting them choose days off to pursue their artistic sides.
Gillen really would like to do another musical, just so his new clients can see his Broadway cred. He also likes to get out of the shop and style fashion shows and editorials; he’s done several national catalogues and magazines.
And while Broomhead has no intention of performing again, he recently returned from judging the 2012 Youth America Grand Prix, one of the largest ballet student competitions.
But as for Broomhead and styling?
He picks up the couple’s 11-year-old Pomeranian, Pee Wee, who often greets clients at the salon, and says with a grin: “I washed and brushed him. That’s about as far as my hair talents go.”
2516 Sunset Blvd. • Houston, TX 77005
713/523-7800 • trespasalon.com
Marene Gustin is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.