Stylists regroup when salon closes

By LISA CAPOBIANCO

STAFF WRITER

When Family Haircut Store suddenly closed earlier this month, nine of its hair stylists were heartbroken to lose their jobs.

Owned by The Image Company, Family Haircut was nestled at 123 Farmington Ave.—where many of those nine stylists worked for at least a decade or two. This May would have marked 29 years for hair stylist Darlene Wilson—until she received a text message on Feb. 7 from one of The Image Company’s owners, Matt Gibbins.

Wilson, who was Family Haircut’s manager, said the text message read: “It is with deep sorrow our business will be closing, effectively immediately. You have every right to seek unemployment benefits. Please respect our privacy.”

Wilson, along with the rest of Family Haircut employees, never received closure from the owners, who have not returned her phone calls.

“I didn’t know what to think. I started texting both owners,” said Wilson, adding how Family Haircut clients became like family for her. “No call, no text. It’s not like them to just not respond to me. We’ve known each other forever.”

The next morning, Darlene broke the news to Family Haircut employees—none of whom received their last paycheck.

Hair stylist Melanie Lydem, who worked at Family Haircut for several months, was shocked by the news.

“It was very shocking and heartbreaking because we put a lot of sweat into what we do. We loved working for that company,” said Lydem, adding that clients also were upset by the hair studio’s sudden closing. “We were one big family.”

But the salon family never separated. As of last Friday, Wilson was in the process of opening a new salon called “Family Hair” at 895 Farmington Avenue, the former location of Trendz Hair Design.

Lydem, along with seven other hair stylists, will rent a chair from Wilson. All of Wilson’s stylists were thrilled when they found out about the available property.

“I’m just happy we’re all coming together and trying our best to open up this salon,” said Lydem. “We hope all our clients realize that…we’re all one big happy family, and they can still come to us.”

“It was horrible what happened. We wanted to stay together,” said hair stylist Lynda Belanger, adding how they received an outpour of support from other community salons. “It would have been hard enough to lose our jobs, but even harder to lose each other.”

The plan is to officially open Family Hair once the new salon receives approval from the health inspector. From waxing to perms and updos to hair coloring and keratine smoothing, Family Hair will offer a variety of services.

Wilson said Family Hair has received many calls from clients, who are all excited to come down to the new salon. She encouraged all Family Haircut customers to come to the new Family Hair salon.

Salon hours will remain the same, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Besides the hair salon in Bristol, The Image Company also closed its other locations, including two in Glastonbury and one in Cheshire.

“Some of them are going elsewhere and renting a booth. They’re all separating, which is sad,” said Wilson.

Comments? Email lcapobianco@BristolObserver.com.

Front row, left, Amber Paradise, Tricia Colon, Darlene Wilson, Lynn Ouellette, Stephanie Mulcahy, and Chris Couture; back row, left, Melanie Lydem, Lynda Belanger, and Tania Desjardins—have banded together for the newly established hair salon, Family Hair, on Farmington Avenue. All nine hair stylists worked together at Family Haircut Store, which unexpectedly closed earlier this month.