In the cut, tease and squeeze world of downtown beauty salons, few names are better known than that of this week's batch of rogues, the Hickox clan.
For decades, John and Sharon Hickox cut and colored the hair of Portland's leading ladies. Hickox clinicians and masseurs buffed and toned them.
Now, the Hickoxes' son Justin is making a splash of his own. Last week, with the help of his PR agent, Justin launched what promises to be one of the more fabulous beauty contests in Portland next spring, the battle to become the "first-ever Face of Hickox."
The press release piqued our interest, and not just because of its new-wave syntax: "Owner Justin Hickox, born into industry, a Portland urban native Justin brings 30 years of legacy experience," the release said.
But that legacy is not all permanent waves and rosy cheeks. Four years ago, Hickox Salon and Spa flopped, leaving at least 50 employees unpaid and lots more customers holding worthless gift certificates (see "The Unkindest Cut of All,", WW, May 5, 2000).
While the "Face of Hickox" release noted that "respected veterans in the business are looking to shine light on the next face of Hickox," a call to the state Bureau of Labor and Industries found people looking to shine a different kind of light on Chez Hickox.
Seems that in June 2001, BOLI paid nearly $47,000 to Hickox workers from a state fund for workers who get stiffed. BOLI tacked on a penalty of nearly another $12,000.
So far, says BOLI spokesman Marc Zolton, the agency hasn't seen a dime in repayment. "Hickox owes us a lot of money," Zolton says. "We plan to investigate to see whether we can collect."
(While the new shop has a different name from the old shop, the only Hickox company currently registered with the Secretary of State's Corporation Division is Hickox Enterprises, the outfit that stiffed BOLI.)
Justin Hickox did not return phone calls, but his father, John, says Justin owns the new business as a sole proprietorship and it has nothing to with the old business--except the Hickox name and the fact that John is leasing two chairs in the salon.
As for the nearly 60 grand the state is owed, Hickox referred that question to his attorney. "I don't know where that stands," he says.