By Stephanie Choate
Painters have their brushes, musicians their instruments. Sonia Martin and Alicia Norton have their scissors.
“I just love the art aspect,” Martin said. “I’m an artist.”
Martin and Alicia Norton, who have been working in the hair industry for more than two decades combined, opened the doors of their own business, Salon Ink, in October.
The two-chair salon, with rows of multicolored dye bottles and Paul Mitchell products lining the bright teal walls, sees approximately 20 to 30 clients a week.
“We’re trying to grow it as we grow,” Martin said. “We both have young families, we’re both from Vermont and we’re finding ways to express ourselves and do our own thing.”
“It gives us the freedom to be ourselves,” Norton said of the new salon.
“To be a little bit more artistic,” Martin added.
Martin and Norton said they focus on fashion-forward hair, scouring the runways, fashion magazines, TV and the Internet for the latest trends.
“It’s an extension of the fashion industry,” Norton said. “What you see on the red carpet, we try to recreate.”
“We’re on the cutting edge of hair,” Martin said. “There’s a lot of hip people in Vermont, believe it or not.”
The pair said that lustrous red hair, along with loose waves, is becoming trendy as spring approaches. Ombre coloring—hair that gradually becomes lighter at the tips—is still popular as well.
“The best hairstyles come when I can just play,” Norton said. “Our clients, after years of coming to us, trust us enough to give a little bit of direction and let us go from there. Most of them say, ‘Do whatever you want, we trust you.’”
Burlington resident Mandy Russin—who hasn’t let anyone but Norton cut her hair for the past seven or eight years—said Norton’s and Martin’s creativity and on-trend styling sets them apart.
“They’re not worried to try something different, they’re not scared of anything,” Russin said. “They always have really great ideas. I think clients come to them with ideas rather than specifics.”
Lisa Imobersteg of South Burlington has left her hair to Martin for the past eight years.
“I don’t have any qualms about saying, ‘I don’t know what I want, do what you want to do,’ and it never has come out wrong,” she said.
Imobersteg said she loves the new salon.
“I just love the little personal atmosphere,” she said. “It’s a fun place to go. It’s nice and private and intimate.”
Although Salon Ink is new, Norton and Martin are no strangers to the business.
Norton started working in local salons in 2003, right after graduating high school.
“I have been playing with hair my whole life,” Norton said.
Martin went to O’Briens Institute, after considering a career in fashion design.
“I graduated at the top of my class and I’ve really not stopped trying to become a better hair dresser in my 12 years in the business,” she said.
Salon Ink is affiliated with Paul Mitchell—a professional hair care product manufacturer and salon educator—giving Martin and Norton constant access to training and seminars.
Aside from cuts and styling, the salon specializes in keratin treatment—a protein-based relaxing treatment for curly hair—and coloring.
Norton said people are excited to get their hair done, giving Salon Ink a “happy environment.”
“It’s not just about looking good, it makes people feel good, too,” she said.
Salon Ink is located in studio 13 of the Sola Salons building at 2141 Essex Road in Williston. Women’s cuts are $50, color begins at $50. Men’s cuts are $30 and children’s are $20.