ST. ALBANS CITY — “If I’m not going to do it now, then when?”
That’s what Kaylee O’Brien thought to herself last month when she was presented with the opportunity to purchase a well-established Main Street business and turn what was a long-term goal of hers into a more-immediate endeavor.
After owning Elite Body Boutique for the last 10 years, Bonnie Rainville and Donna Deuso decided it was time to step back and solely focus on styling. O’Brien became aware of the situation in late December, and it wasn’t long before she had finalized the purchase. Minor interior renovations were performed, and she has reopened the business under the name Blissful Beauty Salon.
“I decided that it was time to do it now instead of waiting and possibly regretting not taking this opportunity,” said O’Brien. “It was a little bit nerve wracking to say I was going to open in a pandemic. But, not knowing how long this pandemic was going to last, I really didn't think that that was the one thing that should stop me from chasing my dreams and accomplishing this. So I just thought, ‘Well, I'm going to take the chance, and hopefully it all works out for me.’”
O’Brien, who now lives in Georgia, was well aware of Elite’s run of being open for 28 years, as she grew up in St. Albans. After attending Bellows Free Academy, she enrolled at O’Briens Aveda Institute, a school in Williston that specializes in teaching cosmetology, barbering, and aesthetics, and graduated two years ago. Since then, she’s been working on her craft at Salon Elizabeth in St. Albans.
But then, O’Brien heard Elite was for sale. Her boyfriend, Brody Pigeon, had been doing some minor construction work for Tom Hungerford, who owns the building at 270 North Main St. and had been leasing it out to Rainville and Deuso. After hearing from Hungerford that Rainville and Deuso were looking to sell the business, O’Brien and Pigeon took the chance and set out to become co-owners.
Shortly after closing on all of the assets inside the salon, O’Brien and Pigeon got to work renovating it. They repainted and spruced up the flooring in addition to rearranging the setup to try and modernize it. The salon previously had 11 chairs for clients, but the new owners took a few out to create more space. There are now eight hair stations and two manicure stations that will continue to be rented out to the same stylists who Elite customers have gotten to know so well over the years, including Rainville and Deuso.
“We would like to thank all the Elite clients for supporting us for the last 10 years and look forward to seeing everyone in the New Year at Blissful Beauty,” the pair said in a joint statement.
While working on the interior, O’Brien also set out to work on the salon’s branding.
“Being a new business owner, I wanted to bring the most attention to this salon as possible,” she said. “So I thought by changing the name and revamping the place a little bit, it would bring some talk to the town about what's going on in this area and possibly bring in some more business.”
The new name was a matter of searching for synonyms to describe how O’Brien felt about owning her own salon: happy. She came across "blissful," and the alliteration with "beauty" sounded perfect for the young entrepreneur.
O’Brien expects that Elite’s stylists will maintain their current clientele while she brings in some of her regulars from Salon Elizabeth, but she’s also excited about the expanded potential Blissful Beauty has to offer the community.
“We've got a couple of young stylists in here that are bringing some nice hair into this county,” she said. “I think we're definitely trying to be an up-and-coming salon — one that people want to come to. If you're wondering what's in here, go ahead and stop on in. We'd be happy to help you with any service, and hopefully we'll see you in here.”
Previously-purchased Elite gift certificates will be honored at Blissful Beauty through the end of 2021.