If you care about your hair, for cut, color or repair, a new gender-neutral salon has opened in the Sola Salons collective at Wilton River Park Shopping Center (5 River Rd.).
Alana Strock & Company takes pride in a philosophy aimed at educating people about products and practices to keep their hair healthy and look how they want it to.
The salon opened its doors in February, led by Strock, a master stylist with more than 20 years of professional experience, including expertise in detailed work with hair extensions.
She embarked on this venture with the help of her partner and business manager Kyle Smith.
With this new shop, Strock was thrilled to team up with a previous coworker and local Wilton resident, Izze Pantoliano.
Pantoliano has strong “roots” in the community, growing up in town and graduating from Wilton High School in 2016.
“We love being in the community,” Pantoliano said. The team has taken opportunities to participate in activities and events around Wilton to meet people and connect their work with others.
Sharing Knowledge with Customers
Strock and Pantoliano are extremely passionate about both the art and science of hair. They each wield a wide depth of knowledge on what materials — particularly products bought for home use — to be cautious about and exactly how a customer can maintain the quality of the work they’ve had done at the salon with proper care after they get home.
“We want our clients to know as much as we know because we want them to understand their hair,” Pantoliano said. “They always say, ‘It’s never gonna look like this at home …’ This is a challenge for us,” she said.
Strock agreed, and she encourages customers to phone or visit the shop anytime with follow-up questions about their own unique hair.
“We want you to be able to recreate what we’ve done here, at home,” she said.
Kim McKeever, one regular client who travels over from South Salem, NY, with her daughter, appreciates that philosophy.
“[Alana] provides great advice on upkeep and at-home care, without any sales pressure, which I totally appreciate,” she said, calling the salon a relaxing, “judgment-free zone.”
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Conditioner — Yes; Conditions — No
The team set out to make the place open and welcoming to everyone without conditions.
“We wanted to specifically be an LGBTQ+-friendly salon … We want to make sure everything is gender-neutral,” Pantoliano said.
This means that cuts, color, or pricing are not conditional based on a client’s gender and that people are invited to explore and experiment with their hair in any way they see fit.
“We may be a small salon, but our mission is to make each client feel safe and stylish in their skin,” Strock said. For example, she noted that a woman who gets a clipper cut shouldn’t have to pay more money than a man just because she’s a woman.
“It makes no sense,” she said.
Roots in Haircare
Growing up as an army brat, Strock lived in various locations around the world but found an interest in hair at an early age. Inspired by her aunt, a professional stylist in Westchester County, NY, she quickly discovered how to happily apply her own creative yearnings to working in the medium of hair.
“I’ve been cutting my mom’s hair since fourth grade,” Strock said. “She still drives over from Rhode Island to have me do it.”
Likewise, Pantoliano was drawn to the fun and creative freedom of hair as a young person, working on friends’ hair in high school. Color creativity has become her particular favorite aspect.
“I have a lot of fun doing fun colors,” she said. “I live through my clients doing their fun colors.”
Lily Carayannis, a regular customer who also travels in from South Salem, NY, applauds the welcoming atmosphere in their shop.
“Alana and Izze are not only knowledgeable about hair … they know the importance of a welcoming place … Wilton is lucky to have them,” Carayannis said.
“Having spent many hours in their chairs getting my hair dyed in fantasy colors, or even just the occasional bangs trim, it begins to feel like a second home,” they said.
While the team understands that hair is ultimately an ornamental extra to one’s person, they know that its appearance almost invariably plays some part in how one feels, or their level of confidence.
“Hair affects you … as much as we want to say it doesn’t,” Pantoliano said.
Toward that end, the team at Alana Strock & Co. wants to do their part to help generate the most positive appearance and conception of people’s hair through their art and work.
“When you feel good about it,” Pantoliano said, “we feel good about it.”
The shop is open Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information visit Alana Strock & Company online.
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