An array of dusty browns, subtle greens and a soft earthy scent fills the air in Roots Hair Salon.
It is like going back to nature, back to the beginning of the Earth before modernization – before the tampering of any natural terrain.
Roots is a one-of-a-kind salon that opened in January right in the heart of Old Town La Verne. The intimate salon caters to men, women and children who seek to be beautified, while the business stays true to its environmental responsibilities.
“We hand make a lot of these things,” stylist and owner Amanda Clarke said. “I tried to take recycled items and turn them into things I can use rather than buy brand new items. We’re more environmentally friendly.”
Roots is the perfect name for Clarke’s intentions to keep the business away from products and services that could be harmful to the environment.
The shop is accented with refurbished pieces of wood and other materials that form the cabinets they use.
These crafty pieces not only add to the earthy theme of the shop, they contribute to the unique setting of downtown La Verne.
“The name Roots is an earthy name,” Clarke said. “I didn’t want anything modern. I wanted to keep it in sync with the age of the surrounding historical buildings.”
Aside from being environmentally friendly, the salon is intimate. It’s size allows it to have a close-knit atmosphere.
“It’s natural,” John Gilmori, who has been a Roots customer since January, said. “It’s very relaxing and stress free. You’re able to talk about whatever.”
Clarke started her education at Citrus College where she participated in the cosmetology program, but that was not her final stop. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in teaching at Azusa Pacific University as well as a master’s degree in special education.
Every part of Clarke’s education gave her the opportunity to do what she had a passion for and that was to open her very own hair salon.
During the four month planning process for Roots, Clarke worked two jobs to support her business venture.
“I have very high expectations for myself,” Clarke said. “I wanted to continue my education and do hair. When you do something you love you do a better job at it.”
There are only five stylists, including Clarke, at Roots. Each stylist brings in her own clientele and comes up with the certain pricing for her customers.
“Jen and I have worked together for years,” model Lisa Dixon said. “I come all the way from Valencia—it obviously is a place well-worth it.”
Dixon gets both her hair and makeup done by her stylist, Jennifer Boogren, who she has been going to for three years. Boogren is the one person she looks to in order to get the perfect look as well as get ready for photo shoots.
Clarke made sure to employ the best stylists she could find.
“I was looking for people who were good with others and compassionate about the environment,” Clarke said. “I don’t want any animosity or competition with each other. Everyone could receive constructive criticism and work together as a group.”
Stylist Aggie Paronelli has known Clarke for 18 years.
Paronelli is partly the backbone of the salon. She helped Clarke construct some of the recycled pieces in the shop and also helped contribute to other crafty ideas.
This year Roots has a “braid bar” every Thursday during Old Town La Verne’s farmer’s market. The salon serves lemonade and braids girls’ hair for five dollars. Customers can choose to have their braids accented with the flowers Paronelli makes.
“Last year we did feathers,” Paronelli said. “Now we make flowers to put in the braids. We also have feather headbands. As hair stylists we always think about the final touches.”
Floral accents, recycled items and using products with lower ammonia are all contributions to support Roots’ mission. If certain items cannot be restored, Clarke tries buying from Craigslist rather than buying something completely new. It is a responsibility Clarke has for herself and business in order to sustain the environment.
“I want to get stricter,” Clarke said. “I want us to start recycling cans and bottles too but I am still working on establishing a relationship with the girls.”
The one-of-a-kind salon is growing within the community as well as with clientele and its goals.
“I always give student and children discounts,” Clarke said. “I want to keep it up with the La Verne theme and eventually do a lot more with the community.”
Shelby Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.