Running with scissors

Photographs courtesy of Christopher Noland Salon and Molinoff Photography L.L.C.

HAIR STYLIST CHRISTOPHER NOLAND doesn’t just want to make people look good. He wants them to feel good as well.

Two years ago, he realized his dream when he opened his own hair salon with John Castagnetti, his business and life partner of nearly seven years, on Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich. Despite tight competition from the area’s many salons, Christopher’s business is thriving, longtime clients are still with him and bringing friends and his philosophy remains the same: “I only want to give (clients) the best.

“Our salon is kind of like a stew. All the flavors complement each other and there isn’t one flavor that’s stronger than the rest, because if there is, that kind of ruins the stew.

“I hear from clients daily, ‘I love it here because everyone is so nice. The people around you are so good,’ and I have to be honest, that is the best compliment I could ever get.”

To maintain that atmosphere, Christopher relies on biz-savvy John, a former director of eyewear for a major brand who became co-owner, manager and head of public relations at the salon two years ago. The two share a Colonial with a modern interior in North Stamford with their three dogs – Napoleon, Carmela and Teddy Kennedy – and two cats, Oscar and Sophia.

When Christopher and John are not working, they love to catch a bite at local restaurants like China White in Greenwich, Arrosto in Port Chester and Le Pain Quotidien in Stamford, where they’re sure to bump into familiar faces. Home is “close enough to New York” and yet they “enjoy the environment of Connecticut.”

Of their relationship, Christopher says, “Oh, I’m totally the artist. Jonathan will talk to me about business and I know certain things by instinct but not by experience. He has more experience there and I speak to what I have experience in.”

Yielding to each other’s expertise also played into the salon’s name.

“I didn’t want the salon to be my name. John, from a marketing standpoint, thought that it would be better for it to be someone’s name. He was adamant and kept telling me, ‘It needs to be your name. It does.’”

Plus, Christopher’s proud mother, Linda, still gets a kick out of calling for her son and hearing receptionists greet her with “Christopher Noland Salon.”

“When I first saw the awning, I cried,” Christopher says. “I was just so excited, you know? Now I see it and it’s funny because people make remarks to me, ‘Oh my God, you’re like famous’ and I’m just like, ‘OK, I do hair.’ You know what I mean? I like to make people happy and I do hair,” he says with a smile.

Christopher first picked up a pair of scissors at 13 – sewing scissors. He and his family moved around a lot. He learned to sew from his mom who wanted to make a pair of curtains for their new home in Newport, Fla. From curtains, he graduated to hair, his own.

“It was like a skater haircut, a tri-level shaved out underneath and really long on top, probably similar to Miley Cyrus’ hair right now.”

Soon after, Christopher’s look caught on and he was doing his friends’, their mothers’ and his own mother’s ‘dos.

A foray into fashion merchandising only proved his future was in hair. He immediately started landing positions at salons in Manhattan, Queens and Fairfield county until he finally was pushed by John to be his own boss and work “seven days a week.”

Much of his growth stems from Christopher’s uncanny ability to balance today’s trends with personal style and of course, functionality.

“It’s really just having an instinct and a conversation. If I recommend bangs to someone and you want to give them a little of that downtown flavor and they’re kind of hesitant, I actually have bangs that I can clip on…. And if they’re like, ‘No, I hate hair on my face,’ trust me, I’m not going to do that,” he says.

And if by chance he does do something clients don’t like, he’s ready to fix it: “We’re always giving them that return policy.”

Looking forward, Christopher is anticipating winterizing dry, damaged hair with a popular protective keratin treatment ($300) and is also foreseeing “a lot more short hair,” thanks to fashionably sheared actresses like Selma Blair, Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway.

Sensitive by nature, Christopher takes his conversational cues from his clients. But adds, not surprisingly, “The thing that’s really strong in our salon is conversation: ‘Where are you going?’ ‘What are you looking for?’ And then of course, remembering that, because if you have an in-depth conversation….Chances are, you’re going to remember it….

“And if someone really doesn’t want to talk to me, you know what? I get it. This is really their time….It’s about the client and how the client feels and sometimes things get a little fun and a little loud, and sometimes they don’t,” Christopher acknowledges. “But it’s good to appreciate it when it does.”

For appointments at Christopher Noland Salon, 124 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, call (203) 622-4247 or visit christophernoland.com.

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