Stylists, franchise team up for new businesses in Milford

MILFORD >> Hairstylist and barber Phil Hovey is four months into owning his own salon business — and all he had to do to get it was make a deposit and turn a key.

Hovey is among those renting a suite in salons by jc, a unique business for this area that allows beauty and wellness professionals to own a business without the red tape, overhead, maintenance and other complications of owning an entire shop.

“We run the space, but they run the business,” said Jim McGuiness, a former chief financial officer at American Express, who along with his two brothers in the corporate world recently opened the business.

Hovey said he brought 100 percent of his clientele with him and in four months has doubled his customer base.

“The main thing that was a huge sell was that I could make my own hours and carry my own products,” Hovey said. “There are no worries about noise levels or people bumping into me.”

McGuiness said he and his brothers wanted to leverage their years of expertise to go into a business, and after crunching numbers and looking at demographics, decided to go with salons by jc because it is one of the most successful growing franchises in the nation and there were none in Greater New Haven. There are Connecticut locations in Danbury, Norwalk and West Hartford.

The local franchise is in a newly built plaza at 1603 Boston Post Road, between Panera and a soon-to-be-completed major camping/outdoor store.

McGuiness, who lives in New Jersey, as do his brothers, said they chose Milford and the location in part because of the two good anchor businesses and Whole Foods across the street.

There are 42 suites of varying sizes and a variety of businesses such as those for hair, skin, massage, manicures and pedicures. There is a break room, restrooms and washers and dryers for all to use.

The basic equipment is provided in the suites — salon chair, sink, hair dryer, massage table, manicure stand — but the business owners can add their own flair by decorating as they wish.

Hairstylist Jeanine Taft of Hamden said the idea of having her own private salon in such a building, rather than working in someone else’s salon, has made her feel more “creative and daring.”

“My clients like the atmosphere. They say it’s almost like a spa,” said Taft, of Hamden. “It’s not a new concept, but I was excited when it came here. I think this is the future of hair salons.”

Ledy Madero of Milford, runs her business, Skin Rejuvenation Clinic, out of one of the suites. She said the best part about sharing a building is that customers can come for “a day of beauty,” and get several services in the same setting.

“People love this place, and the best thing is we can help each other,” said Madera, who had a shop in Greenwich but the commute was too far from her Milford home.

Although each suite reflects the personal style of the business owner — some are Zen, others edgy, others sparkly — the colors in the common areas and hallways, as well as the decorations, are soft. The air is filled with the aroma of squeaky clean.

In the Beauty by Charlene suite, stylist and owner Charlene Lewis said she loves the building, being her own boss, having her own business and the privacy with customers that a single suite brings.

“This is more cost-efficient,” she said of the suite-renting model. “It’s cozy, intimate, private. I’ve had customers tell me they like this better (than a salon) because no one hears their conversation.”

She said it’s also a better arrangement for customers who want to bring kids because they can just set them up with an activity.

Lewis’ customer, Lara Dacosta, who owns Lara’s Floral Design in Bridgeport, said, “it’s calmer, it’s peaceful” getting her hair done in the private suite.

“The setting is pretty nice — it’s fancy in a way that’s not intimidating,” Dacosta said. “There’s more flexibility with time, too.”

The average suite is 108 square feet and costs $330 to $350 per week, although there are start-up incentive specials, including six weeks free rent. Open since May, they are 20 percent filled.

The business owners, who can come and go anytime using a passcode, also have access to the salons by jc social media accounts to promote their business and any specials.

The franchise employs a front-desk concierge with stylist experience who can field walk-ins and act as a receptionist.

“At the end of the day, we’re in partnership,” McGuiness said.

Hovey, who is also a headshot and beauty photographer — also practicing that business out of his one suite — was working for another salon when he decided to go into business for himself through salons by jc.

A third-generation barber, Hovey said he likes the comfort of his own suite and the flexible hours because some fashion color projects can take eight hours.

McGuiness said he’s enjoying the new venture, especially watching the success of the businesses.

For more information, call 732-908-0906 or email