Photo by Kayla Michaud | CIGAR | Brenda Celona, doing what she’s done best, cutting hair in her salon in the Memorial Union.
University of Rhode Island students and faculty are fortunate enough to have a hair salon right on campus located on the bottom floor of the Memorial Union. This past January Total Image Hair Salon celebrated its 30th anniversary. The owner, Brenda Celona, has been there from just about the very beginning.
“I’ve been here behind that chair for 30 years,” said Celona. “[Since] Jan. 18, 1988. I was 21.”
Celona graduated from hairdressing school in 1986 and first started out at a Great Cuts and then also worked at RTS Hair Studio before working at Total Image Hair Salon. She has now owned the business for 10 years, before that she worked as the manager. Celona has always enjoyed working at a business on a college campus
“I love being on a college campus,” Celona said. “I wouldn’t change that for the world.” She enjoys what she does, but it’s where she is that seals the deal.
In the 80s and 90s, the salon was a bit busier because back then there were not as many hair salons on every corner. However, the business continues to thrive as Celona has lots of regular customers, many of whom have been coming to her for years.
“I have alumni who still come back, some who come from Connecticut,” said Celona. “I have students who have kids who are now coming here. I’m lucky I still have people who come back to me after years and years.”
Celona also mentioned that many faculty members, such as President David Dooley, come to her for haircuts as well.
Over the past 30 years, Celona has witnessed a lot of changes on campus from working at Total Image Hair Salon. Things such as parking have changed, as Hillside Hall used to be a parking lot and the Memorial Union now has a 45-minute parking lot for those members of the community who come to the businesses there. Total Image Hair Salon has benefitted from the 45-minute parking as it created a greater attraction from customers off campus.
The Memorial Union has changed quite a bit as well, as Celona explained that there used to be a bowling alley and a bar located inside of it. Celona believes that even though it’s getting to the point where the Memorial Union should go through renovations, it is still “the heart of the campus” and always has been since she has been at URI.
For the salon itself, a lot of cosmetic changes have been made rather than changes to the businesses’ services. Just this past summer, Celona redesigned part of the interior of the salon.
She got a new retail desk and a recent URI graduate redid the couch cushions in her waiting area for her over the summer. Even though changes have been incorporated on campus in the salon, Celona’s love for her job only continues to prosper.
“I mean I’ve been here 30 years for a reason…working with students, the staff, the community, even the local people in the area, everyone is close-knit, it’s just like a little family unit,” said Celona. “Just working with students they keep you young. It’s never a dull moment when the students are here.”
On Wednesday, Feb. 14, there will be pizza and cake available in the Total Image Hair Salon to celebrate Celona’s 10 years of owning the salon, as well as the 30 years the salon has been open.
The salon’s business hours are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Make sure to follow them on Instagram @totalimageuri.