BY SALLY MARTINO
Special to CTgetsMarried.com
Maura Fitzgerald went from client to owner of the Hair Loft in Avon almost without thinking.
A patron of the salon for six years, Fitzgerald was sitting for a manicure when she heard the owners “talking about doing something with the business,” she says. “In the middle of their conversation, in the middle of having my nails done, I turned around and said, ‘I’ll buy the business’.”
Fitzgerald had already made a major career change in 2007, leaving the human resources field of the corporate world to establish her own event-planning business, Simply Eventful. Although her offer to buy the Hair Loft was impulsive, she started due diligence, wrote a business plan and bought the business in March, 2008.
Since then, Fitzgerald has retained the “warm, friendly, comfortable environment” that the salon was known for but expanded the number of styling stations and services. She has expanded the staff to a dozen stylists and three receptionists who cater not only to their clients’ hair and makeup needs but also to their schedules. “We’re here as early as 7:30 in the morning and work up to nine or 10 at night if that’s the only time [clients] can get in after a full day,” she says. “We’re closed on Monday, but we open for those who need it.” Fitzgerald also has introduced on-line booking as an added convenience.
The Hair Loft’s signature service is hair coloring, which accounts for about 72 percent of the business, the owner says. “We partner with one of the leaders in the color industry, Beth Minardi in New York City, and we carry her product and color care line,” Fitzgerald says, adding that her stylists frequently attend training sessions with Minardi.
An important part of the business is keeping up with trends. “We’re in the fashion industry, and it’s changing on the dime,” the owner says. Current trends include ombre hair coloring, which combines darker roots with lighter color from the mid-shaft of the hair to the ends, and longer hair. “Long hair is back but not poker straight,” she says, citing the soft, wavy hair of celebrities Taylor Swift and Eva Longoria as examples. The stylists also offer make-up tips – “whenever a client comes in for color service, we make sure her make-up is touched up” – as well as make-up classes.
Updos continue to be popular for proms and weddings, “but the style is now loose and a little messy, and braids are in,” Fitzgerald says. “Feathers are huge. We can’t keep enough in stock.” They also present a way to accessorize hair without a commitment to a more permanent process like a bold streak of color. Hair extensions remain a service that customers request often. Fitzgerald predicts that eyelash extensions, which attach to the natural lash and last until the lash falls out naturally, will be big, especially for summer.
The Hair Loft staff welcomes a clientele of men, women and children to the salon, but their work extends beyond the walls of their Riverdale Farms home. Besides participating in Gift of Love fundraisers, the salon has been a sponsor of Fox CT’s Dream Wedding 2010 and 2011 contests and is on board to do the hair and makeup for the actors filming a movie soon in the Farmington Valley.The Hair Loft is in building 15 of Riverdale Farms, 136 Simsbury Road, Avon. Telephone: 860-674-9460. Web site: www.thehairloftofavon.com