“You look ridiculous. We can fix that.”
So said a sign last month outside The Hive Hair Studio, an upstart salon opened just last year on Whitney Avenue. An earlier iteration said, “We fix $8 haircuts.”
It’s not mean. It’s provocative and cheeky, which might be exactly what you’re looking for in a new haircut.
Anyway, it’s all in good fun. “We have a really killer sense of sarcasm,” owner/stylist Jenna Vollono says. “And we have a really good time here.”
When I arrived for a recent appointment, Vollono was giving a touch-up to one of her regulars, a Yale Business School student getting ready for a job interview. It was a gratis, between-cuts seating, covering quick clean-ups like bang trims.
Complimentary touch-ups are a nice perk of getting hair done at The Hive. Another is the French-press coffee offered upon walking inside, where a large Buddha painting and a spherical lantern laced with honeycomb-like hexagons hang among warm yellow walls. Small displays showcase locally crafted jewelry, and a vase full of lollipops pings a nostalgic part of sitting for a haircut as a kid, when you’d get to choose a flavor at the end.
She’s been hairstyling for about ten years, beginning her training early, in high school. She worked at well-regarded New Haven spots like Broadway Hair and Capture Salon before opening The Hive—where, for the record, men are quite welcome, too.
Men were even considered in the naming of the place. “The Hive” refers to the ’60s Beehive hairstyle for women, which to Vollono is really an emblem for a broader retro aesthetic that she loves. Not wanting to put off male clientele, however, she left out the “bee” part. Meanwhile, one of her latest hires, Maurizio Genovesi, does straight-razor shaves.
There are three other employees as well: receptionists Rachel Reynolds and Heather Dinneen; and color and curly hair specialist Amanda Castillo. Castillo’s presence allows The Hive to feature special curly haircuts, each ending with a “hair class,” where Castillo shows customers tricks for styling themselves away from the salon. “We are all about education,” Vollono says. “We want to make sure you can replicate it at home.”
As for her own education, Vollono spent a month at the Vidal Sassoon hairstyling school in Santa Monica when she first started out, and the rest has been on-the-job. When she was younger, she says she “had no idea” what she was going to do with her life. Giving hairstyling a go, she discovered she had a knack for it.
She’s also got a knack for chatting up customers. During my cut, which turned out exactly as I’d hoped—short, easy and fun, but not “a mom haircut”—we passed the time talking about the best food in the area, our shared interest in writing (Vollono also runs a New Haven based writer’s group) and her local roots. I also discovered that she comes from a background of business-minded women. Her mother, Carol Vollono, and sister, Brenda DePonte, own Sugar Bakery in East Haven, where she grew up.
In terms of pricing, those used to local salon prices won’t blink an eye. A women’s cut at Hive starts at $45, while a men’s begins at $25. Color appointments start at $55 and a cut and color gets you a bit of a deal at $95. Highlights usually hang around $75, depending on what the client wants.
Those curious for examples should check out The Hive’s well-updated Facebook page. A wide-ranging set of client photos—of bold turquoise streaks, sleek pixie cuts and that of-the-moment men’s style with the short sides and longer top—celebrate the work and the customer in the same breath.
Vollono’s intention is to make a place where you can breathe easy, where you can bring your baby or your dog, where you can explore daring hair decisions with confidence, then leave with still more of it.
The Hive Hair Studio
93 Whitney Ave, New Haven (map)
Sun-Mon 10am-5pm, Tues-Thurs 10am-7pm, Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 9am-4pm
Website | Facebook
Written and photographed by Cara McDonough.