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Echo A Salon

Guilford, Connecticut 



Owner: Stephanie Huffman

Date of Opening: July 2013

Overall Style: upscale boutique, unique chic

Square Footage: 720

Total Design Investment: $31,800

Styling Stations: 8

Furniture: ABC Carpet & Home (NYC), Boutique’s 

Equipment Manufacturer: Formatron, Elad Beauty

Retail Lines Carried: Kerastase, Prive, American Crew

Color Lines Used: L’Oréal, Oligo-KoKo, Redken S EQ

Design Firm: Jennifer Millspaugh – Design X

Photography: Steven McGuire Photography



1. List your three favorite features of your salon/spa design and explain why.

“Our natural lighting is from our over-sized windows and specially designed LED lights by Minardi Color Perfect Lighting. This allows for accuracy of true tone-on-tone color. No longer do we need to walk outside into the elements to see how the finished color looks in natural sunlight.

Our artistic interior is truly one of a kind. Combining features like Venetian plaster and a dramatic mural of a sexy siren with glowing amber locks has resulted in a modern twist on the Old World fresco walls. LA area artist Sylvia Fuller contributed her talents in order to create this unique look. The same level of attention carrier through to other details, like our embossed silver tin ceilings and industrial open ductwork.

Our unique wall finishes and treatments also set us apart from the typical cookie-cutter sterile black and white salon environment. Clay-painted walls purify the air ad recycled stained glass walls in the restroom make you feel as though you are inside a sparkling geode. San Francisco area designer Chris Wallner at Stone Lace Eco-Wall Design was inspired to use these materials for a singularly beautiful finish.”

2. What was the biggest challenge about this salon or spa design, and how did you overcome it?

“We faced a 4-part challenge: Space, time, money and environmental concerns. We had been at our original location for 13 years and our space was just over 1,000 square feet. We now faced moving to a location of 720 square feet and needed to relocate in a timely manner so as not to risk losing business. In order to meet the spatial challenge, simplification of our inventory was a must. Time-wise, we gave ourselves 2 months to completely renovate what had been a flower shop for 30 years. This meant 2 months in which to nail down a design plan that was efficient yet spacious, then starting from scratch with all new plumbing, heating/cooling and electrical systems, ceilings, walls and floors. We also faced the challenge of a limited budget head-on, making sure to use recycled and refurbished materials wherever possible. Thankfully we were able to complete our project in just over 2 months. Salon owner Stephanie worked tirelessly to oversee the entire project while continuing to work full-time behind the chair. The challenge of creating an environmentally-friendly space meant carefully researching and investing in materials, appliances and air systems that would work to make Echo as gentle on the planet as possible.

Overall, we may have lost a couple hundred square feet, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of our artists, contractors and ourselves, we have gained a gorgeous open floor plan that feels even roomier and more comfortable than ever!”

3. Who is your target market and how did you design this salon to attract that market?

“Our principle market is the professional who desires a current cut, style and color. After a long day at work, how relaxing it is to come to our salon and de-stress with a complimentary glass of wine! We are focused on education, attending varied classes (both in-salon and away) that enhance our knowledge of current cutting and coloring techniques. In turn, our clients benefit from this education. Since we are located in historic downtown Guilford, just off the town square (or Green), this coveted spot is central to every type of business the busy commuter needs, i.e. specialty shops, restaurants, library, post office, etc. We are on a popular shopping/walking route, and just up the street from the Shore Line East Commuter Train Station, and we have many clients who commute to and from NYC, sometimes coming directly from the train into one of our chairs. Clients can expect the personalized attention of an upscale, high-end salon in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.”

4. Which specific elements of your salon design were planned to enhance productivity and profitability?

“Taking advantage of the many social networking sites available has helped us to notify clients and friends of various promotional events, exciting new products and update to our coloring systems. We also are able to communicate all the things we learn through our continuing education, thus generating excitement about what new techniques we can share. The online community has given us much more visibility and contact with a limitless potential client base. As mentioned, our beautiful new location is on a popular walking/shopping route. That has led to many people just stopping in to admire the design, and more often than not, they stay to schedule an appointment.

Thanks to the positive energy and hard work of a truly capable assistant, we as stylists can work more efficiently, which allows us time to work in extra clients, or that ‘going-out-tonight-need-to-look-FABULOUS’ emergency! Our assistant also enables us in the use of Kerastase Treatments, which address individual hair needs, like a desire for greater moisture, shine, volume or strength. These add-on services have contributed greatly to revenue.

We wanted our clients to have easy access to our retail area so that they would feel free to browse our selection and ask any questions they may have. Our retail display is strategically placed in our waiting/reception area so that our trained front desk staff can either help the clients personally, or discreetly convey questions/concerns to the stylist.”


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