DERRY — A new hair salon that celebrated its grand opening on Saturday is a business forged in friendship.
Owners DaniBeth Wheeler and Allison Trudeau started American Hair Barn at the Cowbell Corner development at 418 Island Pond Road in Derry in February. But they worked together long before that.
About six years ago, Trudeau was running a small barber shop in Atkinson and Wheeler came in for an interview.
She got the job and, for about four years, it was just the two of them in the shop.
“We became best friends,” Wheeler said.
The American Hair Barn logo, a compass rose with a pair of shears as the compass needles, was first designed to be a shared tattoo, according to Wheeler.
Both women are residents of Derry, attended Pinkerton Academy in Derry and later trained in the Continental Academie of Hair Design in Hudson, but they didn’t meet each other during that time.
Since then, when it felt like the time had come for the friends to start their own business together, they reached out to family members for personal loans, including Elizabeth Moran, Daniel Moran and James Tatlis.
Wheeler said it cost them about $65,000 to start the business, and it was a team effort getting the space ready.
“Everything that we didn’t need a contractor for, we did ourselves. Everything excluding plumbing, electrical and building walls,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau and Wheeler said they designed the space to be comfortable, and avoided the stark modern aesthetic, in order to be an inviting space for men, women and children.
“We’re very family friendly,” Trudeau said.
Haircuts are $18. They are $16 for kids and seniors, and $12 for military members, veterans and first responders.
“We have potential to expand up to six stylists, and the one aesthetician, but we don’t want to grow beyond that. We want to keep it homey and small,” Wheeler said.
The ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday showcased the business’s neighbors in Cowbell Corner. Catering was provided by On the Corner Grill, Vitality Place donated raffle prizes, and It’s a Kid’s World donated coupons for guest giveaways.
American Hair Barn also raffled off an American-flag coffee table made by Wheeler’s mother, Joyce Wheeler, who owns J&N Picnic Tables in Derry.
The salon also seeks to support Disabled and Limbless Veterans Inc. with a donation box and by selling $10 challenge coins — tokens that are often traded or passed along as a means to honor the recipients.
Trudeau and Wheeler said 100% of these proceeds will go back to veterans and families for things like food, shelter and clothing.