As beauticians with a passion for hair color, Shannon Dery and Jen Sollenne are used to helping people reinvent themselves, through fresh new looks.
Now they’ve done the same for their business.
In a town awash in salons, Rick Garcia’s stood head and shoulders above most. From its opening in 1990, the Playhouse Square shop enjoyed a devoted clientele.
“He was so much fun,” says Shannon. “There was a lot of buzz. It was a cool Westport place to be. We all felt like family.”
She and Jen both joined Rick in the 1990s. “He was great about bringing in young people, and training them,” Jen notes.
Rick died of cancer in 2011. at 64. His son Justin took over, and managed it for 8 years.
When the lease was up last summer, he told Shannon and Jen he was moving out of the area.
They looked at each other. Neither wanted to work for a new owner. After more than 2 decades together, they knew what the other was thinking.
“We had a dream,” Shannon says. “We wanted to keep this place going, and keep everyone together.” Many of the staff had been there for years. “But we wanted to update it with a new look too.”
The goal was to keep the salon’s “comfortable, casual, clean” vibe. They also hoped to make it feel “coastal.”
The leasing agent was all in.
The women went to work. They called in favors. They must have a great reputation: Construction finished ahead of schedule.
Plank flooring has been laid over the old black and white tile. There’s a redesigned waiting area. Walls and décor are new; so are the sinks, smocks and coffee maker.
Even the name is new. “Salon 293 East” — for 293 Post Road East, the official address — sounds welcoming to all, Jen and Shannon say. It’s fresh too.
293 East opened in September. But they’ve waited till now to have a grand opening.
It was — of course — fun and lively. Longtime customers came. So did Playhouse Square neighbors.
“It’s one-stop shopping here,” Jen says. “We have fitness, food and retail.” Clients patronize those shops too, before or after getting their hair done.
And there’s nothing like having a postal clerk compliment you on your new hairstyle or color.