On Feb.13, Clyde St. Amand’s Hair Design officially opened its doors for business in at 45 East Main Street in Old Avon Village.
The opening was marked by an open house, featuring refreshments and music by St. Amand’s daughter’s cello teacher, Katie Kennedy, and her boyfriend, Eric Dahlin of The Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
Clyde St. Amand, owner and hair stylist, has been cutting hair since he was 16. When he was 23, he opened his first salon in Granby and later moved it to Simsbury. In that time, he said, he developed a strong reputation, and was booked solid for a year, with a three- to six-month waiting list. Six years ago, he sold the business in order to focus on his family. This past May, he went back into the hair business, working for a former employee.
“That didn’t work out too well,” he said.
He then began looking for a new salon, and settled on Old Avon Village.
“This area is a destination,” St. Amand said.
Avon is close to his home in West Hartford, but still convenient for his old clients from Simsbury and even Granby. St. Amand says his Granby clients will often make a day of it, going grocery shopping or out to eat in addition to getting their hair done.
Key to the new business is St. Amand’s dedication to education. A large wall near the entrance bears his many awards. According to his Web site, he often attained 'most distinguished’ in his classes and degrees.”
“I didn’t just graduate from hair dressing school and call it a day,” he said. “I worked with a lot of greats and was able to learn from them.”
He cited his time working with Martin Parson in Toronto as the most influential on his career.
“I was looking for something. I wasn’t happy with the cuts I was learning. He opened my eyes,” St. Amand said.
He said he intends to go back to school this summer, probably in New York.
“Becoming stagnant in design is not an option for me. I will always invite every opportunity to learn more to best serve my clientele,” he posted on his salon Web site.
The new space was previously a hair salon, making new plumbing unnecessary, but the interior has been upgraded from an all-beige interior to a sleek black and pink theme, all designed by St. Amand, who did some interior decorating during the six years he took off from hair styling.
“This is all me,” he said. “It’s very different from my previous salons…I’m usually very traditional, very Victorian.”
St. Amand’s wife, Shari St. Amand, said her husband is “the kind of person who can get his hands into everything and just create.”
While her primary focus is the couple’s two kids, she said she is “in and out” of the business to support in any way she can.
“We try to provide an environment where people can come in, sit down, make yourself at home,” she said.
Karen Cote, a friend of the St. Amand's who attended the opening, believes they are achieving this goal.
“The atmosphere is absolutely gorgeous,” Cote said. “Very unique; quite different from many salons. He must be a very talented man.”
She said she has not had St. Amand work on her hair yet because she lives quite a distance, but after seeing the new salon, “It’s going to be worth the extra trip.”
Joanne Brunelle, who has been a client of St. Amand’s for “at least 20 years” says it has always been worth it for her.
“I love what he does,” she said. “I’m at a point where I just sit in the chair and let him do what he does. He does my color, my cut, and I get so many compliments.”
Brunelle also did the framing of the many photos, awards, and newspaper clippings around the salon.
“We’re also good friends,” she said. “You can’t help but form a personal relationship with your hairdresser.”
St. Amand judged the opening to be a success, saying he was impressed with the “nice, steady flow” of friends and visitors. Now that he is open for business, he hopes to regain his sense of focus.
“I want to be the best in the industry,” he said.