With airy new salon in Groton, two sisters-in-law want you to treat yourself

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Groton — As cars drive passed on busy Fort Hill Road, sunlight streams through the floor-to-ceiling windows and into a sitting area with four chairs, a rug and plants.

It's one of three sitting areas in Wildflower Salon, a setup meant to emphasize that the owners want you to stay and relax for a little while. Shannon Cloutier doesn't want customers to be thinking about what they must do next, whether it's cooking or putting laundry away or going to the gym.

"People are so afraid to treat themselves," she said. "They think it's selfish, and we want to spoil them rotten. They deserve it." She thinks the current trend of emphasizing self-care has "1,000 percent" helped the industry.

Shannon and Melissa Cloutier — sisters-in-law married to brothers — opened the hair salon at 21 Fort Hill Road in December. Despite having been open for only a few months, they landed in the top five for both hair salon and nail salon in The Day's Best of Readers' Choice Awards.

They've been hearing from a lot of people that it's not every day a new business opens in the Poquonnock Bridge section of Groton. Deb Jones, assistant planning director for the town, said she's not sure what the impediments are to new businesses opening there, but that it may just be a less well-traveled part of town, or one people consider a pass-through.

The town is looking to open up historic buildings in Poquonnock Bridge to more uses as part of its zoning rewrite, Jones said. And for the Poquonnock Bridge Village Design Guideline Project, a consultant will present ideas next month.

Jones said of Wildflower's opening, "We are so excited. I mean, it's just perfect." The space previously belonged to Pequot Appliances, which downsized and now occupies only the space behind the salon.

The name Wildflower came from a poem Melissa showed Shannon, which Shannon said made her tear up. The theme is reflected in the flowers throughout the shop and in the floral upholstery on chairs.

Along with cuts, hair services include extensions, highlights and balayage, a hand-painted hair-dying technique. Prices are $55 for a women's cut and blow dry, $30 for a men's cut and $25 for a child's cut, while a manicure is $27 and waxing ranges from $15 for lip and brow to $60 for full legs.

But Shannon and Melissa cautioned it can be hard to put a blanket price on some services, and so they set up consultations to talk pricing and how many appointments it will take to achieve a certain look.

Shannon said they have somebody who started aesthetics school in May, and she will eventually offer eyebrow waxing and tinting at the salon.

"People are obsessed with having their eyebrows done, because eyebrows have basically been defined now as a picture frame" for your face, she said.

The owners graduated from New London High School — Shannon in 1998 and Melissa in 2005. While they didn't know each other back then, they've been friends for awhile, and it was Melissa who convinced Shannon to go to hairdressing school 11 years ago.

Shannon had been doing nails for eight years at that point, but she found she took a hit when the economy was down, as people tried to save money by painting their own nails. She joined Melissa at the now-defunct Brio Academy of Cosmetology in Niantic, and their professional paths crossed again when they worked at the same hair salon in Groton.

With years of experience under their belts, they decided to take the plunge and open their own place.

"I think we both feel that it just makes people feel so happy when they look good," Melissa said.

e.moser@theday.com

Sisters-in-law Melissa, left, and Shannon Cloutier, co-owners of Wildflower Salon on Fort Hill Road in Groton. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Sisters-in-law Melissa, left, and Shannon Cloutier, co-owners of Wildflower Salon on Fort Hill Road in Groton. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Business Snapshot

Business: Wildflower Salon

Where: 21 Fort Hill Road, Groton

Owners: Shannon and Melissa Cloutier

Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

Appointments: wildflowersalonct.com

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