“GOOD People of Wilton” is GMW’s take on the popular profile series, “Humans of New York.” It’s a little less derivative than calling it “Humans of Wilton,” and renaming it “GOOD People of Wilton” felt just right.
Master stylist Gwen Covert has been working in the beauty industry for 37 years, at least that’s how long she thinks. “I’ve lost track of time,” she laughs.
That may be because she’s been obsessed with hair and style since childhood. “I was that girl at 16 trying to get the best haircut that I could, paying all kinds of crazy money, but not having the right connections like I do now.”
Covert spent years working in New York City salons before relocating to Fairfield County, and now works in the first chair at Salon Léa Lauren. During her career she has studied at Sebastian, Sassoon and Bumble & Bumble. She has long wanted to bring a little of that editorial edge and fashion-forward look with her and marry it with what people need here, to make sure her clients get a stylish cut that works well for them and the way they live day-to-day.
GMW: What’s the biggest difference between working in NYC and Fairfield County?
GC: They say hair is environmental. There’s Connecticut hair, there’s Westchester hair…people look at each other and they want what they see on each other and it sometimes can becomes everybody looks the same and everybody wants the same thing, and nobody wants to step outside the box a little bit. How you handle you hair is important, that’s why your hair should really be cut according to your lifestyle. A lot of people don’t have time to sit around and blow-dry their hair, so wash and wear is the answer to that.
GMW: Looking to fall and transitioning to winter, what do you want people who sit in your chair–or anyone–to know and consider?
GC: After the summer, you want to deep condition and get rid of all the chlorine and salt in the hair. The hair is very dry and a lot of times you want to put a little stronger shape into the hair for the fall. You want to get that old hair that’s been in the sun and over-processed a little bit, give it a nice shape where you have less work to do. And keep an open mind, you know, pictures are sometimes very difficult to work with in that you don’t know in that picture exactly what happened–how long the drying part of it takes, the texture that the person has to begin with and what it takes to get into that shape. Don’t be afraid to cut. I think people are very afraid to cut their hair.
GMW: What about people who are reluctant to consider making a change?
GC: Cutting the hair makes hair the healthiest. If you really keep your mind open, you’ll be surprised what can happen. And I think working with peoples’ natural texture and not going by photos, you’re able to create. You don’t want to lose your inhibitions and your creativity, and a lot of times when people bring in pictures, it’s stifling, as to your creativity. You don’t know how good you can look, and when you do cut into the hair a little bit, you shape the hair, you give a stronger shape into the hair, it ends up being a lot less maintenance for you. You know, why not be a little more ‘wash n wear’.
GMW: There are a lot of younger moms in Wilton. They may have more functional needs at their stage in life.
GC: Women who have just given birth or have, you know, smaller children, you have Mommy Hair. You’ve lost some, and you have little bits that are growing back from the root out. You want to cut internally a bit more to strengthen those hairs- around the hairline usually. There are hair treatments, Kérastase drops will help the hair grow back. If you take vitamins, and of course protein is very important for women. Women don’t get enough protein and that’s why a lot of times their hair is not as strong as it should be.
You can still have style, you can still have style in your hair and be able to put it back, you know. You really can. Especially now, dimension is very in–different variations of length that means. Texture is very in. You don’t see any hard lines in hair anymore, the hair has more movement, and it just naturally falls where it needs to fall.
GMW: What about women in their mid-30s to 50s? What do you want them to think about?
GC: You need to think about gravity. We want to lift up, we want to look modern and fresh as women, and even men. A lot of times men hold themselves, they think they have conservative jobs that they have to have conservative haircuts. It’s not the case. You can have a modern, chic haircut and still have a conservative job and still look good. You don’t have to part your hair on the side or do a comb-over or any of that, you know…you’d be surprised at what you can do.
As far as women, we want to lift up. Everyone looks good, every female, I don’t care who you are, looks good with a little bit more volume in your crown area. A little bit more fringe, a little less hair on the face, a little back off the face. I love long hair, but for me, I believe that if you don’t have the quality of hair to have it long, it doesn’t always work. If you have to work so hard at having a hairstyle look good, chances are that hairstyle needs a little updating.
GMW: It’s a good time of year to think about that.
GC: We look forward to the change of clothing and seasons, why not change your shape? Find somebody you trust, somebody you think has style, whose style you can appreciate and then go from there.
GMW: Do people come in aware of what the hair and fashion trends are, and asking for those styles?
GC: We had a lot of prom girls come in this year, and they all wanted glamour hairstyles, but they didn’t want to sit under the dryer for an hour so that you could set the hair, and they were kind of rushing everything so we modified everything, down to the business of how that hair should have been set. Most of them should have had sets for it to look a specific way. But I think people are a lot more fashionable. People really want change and it’s great. I’m trying to bring a little New York to Wilton and it’s happening. I don’t think Connecticut’s really so trendy, it’s more about having pretty, healthy shiny, well-cut, well-kept hair. But the more open you are, just like anything, the more options you have.
GMW: What do you love about what you do?
GC: I love to make people feel good and look good. I love to put my signature on things lately. Building a brand for myself is huge. Changing people up, you get that inner sense of self when you look good and you feel really good. I know that after I get a haircut for myself, I feel like a supermodel. I put it in my head that I’m a supermodel. And I don’t even care, I just feel like that.
GMW: And you like to give that to other people?
GC: It’s a huge gift. It really is. It’s all connected–you look good, you feel good.
GMW: Do you have to spend a lot of money to get a good cut? Wilton is one of those places, we like a certain thing but we also watch what we spend.
GC: I believe in quality. If I can buy a really good piece of furniture and it lasts me 5-10 years, I believe in that. I think if you spend a little more and get a better haircut, like if you put a shape in your hair, you get more time out of your haircut–it won’t be 4-6 weeks, it’ll be three months down the road. That’s when you know you have a really good haircut. That’s when you know you have a shape in your hair. And that really does make a difference. You get much more time out of everything that is quality, I really believe that.
Just keep an open mind, try something new. Stay fresh. Read some magazines. Follow the trends if you really want to do something and don’t know what to change. And leave it up to the professionals. When you sit in someone’s chair, hopefully you’re paying for their expertise.
The Salon Lea Lauren is located in Old Post Office Square at 12 Center St., next to CT Coffee. They can be reached at 203.762.6188 or online.