MONROE, CT — Nancy Aponte uses her passion for creativity and nature to offer organic hair and skin care at her salon, and that combination factored into Salon Aponte reaching its 30th anniversary this year.
“My mother was a nurse,” she said. “I considered going into nursing, but decided to try hairdressing first — and that’s where I stuck. Health is a big interest of mine as well.”
Aponte styled and colored hair in Tollgate Plaza, at 838 Main Street, for a total of 40 years. During the first decade the salon was Hair Farm, then MK Hair Design. She took over the business in 1990, renaming it Salon Aponte.
Aponte calls the salon her “home away from home.”
“It’s really been such a blessing to be here on Route 25 with my fellow business owners,” Aponte said. “It’s such a nice complex. I’m blessed to be able to make a living doing something I love, while socializing with good people.”
One of the first things Aponte did was search for eco-minded carriers for her salon’s products, before partnering with BeautyCounter, a skin care company based in Santa Monica, Calif.
According to its website, BeautyCounter’s “mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone,” because “beauty should be good for you.”
Aponte also works to avoid harmful chemicals in her hair coloring products.
“We love personalizing formulas for our clients with over 70 different colors within our lines to choose from,” she said. “These are safer alternatives, organic based with no ammonia. The toxicity of color pigments in permanent coloring is in question and our color line has little or none of these pigments. It really shows in the health and shine.”
Aponte said avoiding products with harmful chemicals is also important for the health of her salon’s stylists who use the products every day.
She said there are five hairstylists at Salon Aponte.
“Our stylists are updated in the latest highlighting techniques and their work is highlighted on our Facebook and Instagram pages, so people can see for themselves,” Aponte said. “We have a lot of laughs, but professionalism and satisfying our clients is our main mission.”
Over the course of her career, Aponte was recognized as Conservationist of the Month by The Monroe Courier and her business was named Best Eco-Friendly Salon by the Fairfield County Advocate.
Her salon has also given back to the community, hosting cut-a-thons for Save the Sound and Emerge, an organization against domestic violence.
Becoming a stylist
Aponte enjoyed playing with her cousin’s and her friends’ hair, while growing up in Stratford. “I always had an artsy side to me,” she said. “I appreciated color and the outdoors.”
After graduating from Bunnell High School, Aponte enrolled in the National Academy of Hairdressing in Bridgeport in 1976.
Then Aponte said she had to work as an operator for one year, performing all of the tasks of a hairdresser. Then she worked another year as an assistant hairstylist, working under a registered hairstylist, before taking a test to become registered herself.
She now lives in Shelton and has one son, who is in college.
Back to her roots
When all of Connecticut’s salons were forced to close because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Aponte, whose grandmother came from a farming family, went back to her roots.
Aponte spent more time with her home garden, growing flowers, herbs and produce like tomatoes and kale. She also took walks, enjoying the outdoors, while clearing her head.
“It was a gift to see the spring unfold,” she said. “I would never have this time.”
Aponte also took online business courses, brushing up on her knowledge and seeking guidance through the pandemic. She kept in touch with her team on apps like Zoom, Skype and FaceTime.
Though salons were allowed to open again on June 14, Aponte said Salon Aponte reopened on the week of the 21st.
“We felt things were new and unknown with Covid, so we decided to wait a couple more weeks,” she said, adding, “it’s such a pleasure to be back with people we care about.”
Mimosas and cake
Aponte has served generations of loyal clients and their children, making them look their best for proms, weddings and other major life events. Her salon turned 30 on Feb. 13 and the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and Monroe Economic Development Commission held an event to celebrate the occasion.
“We had mimosas and cake and I made a big billboard with a lot of my old ads and articles,” Aponte recalled.
She said it does not feel like 30 years have passed.
“I’m grateful to have the energy, the drive and the talent, and that people enjoy spending time with me and appreciate the work that I do,” she said with a smile.
Salon Aponte’s hours are: 2 to 6 p.m. on Monday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.