New salon serves North Side

BY IAN MURPHY | APRIL 23, 2014 5:00 AM

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Hair scissors now snip where soft serve used to swirl.

The HABA hair salon now occupies 212 E. Market St., where the North Side Dairy Queen was located for 30 years. HABA is an acronym for hair, art, beauty, and architecture, said co-owner Leah Ostby.

“It was certainly a whole lot of work renovating it and getting it to look like this,” she said. “It’s also just a cute little name.”

The salon held its grand opening on April 11 after being established in Iowa City earlier this year.
“We had always kind of wanted to open up back downtown,” said co-owner Nichole Schappert.

Figuring out the ownership end of hair dressing has been the biggest challenge, Ostby said.

“Over the last two years, I’ve been transitioning to the business side of it,” she said.  “It’s a lot more in-depth than I realized; it’s a lot more expensive than I realized.”

Ostby and Schappert were both employed by Buzz Salon and started their business in Tiffin because of a non-competition agreement, but they have now returned to Iowa City. 

Buzz owner Jodi Connolly said she is excited to see former employees chasing their dreams.

HABA adds to the pool of more than five other salons in Iowa City.

Ostby said she hopes HABA can bridge the gap between expensive and cheaper salons while maintaining high quality.

“We needed to add our voice to downtown,” Ostby said. “We felt like there was a hole that needed to be filled.”

Cuts range from $55 to $75 for women and $25 to $40 for men.

Ostby has been a hairstylist for 18 years, and Schappert has been styling for seven years. Both said they will emphasize having highly trained stylists at their salon.

The salon is partnered with New York stylist Nick Arrojo, who was featured on the show “What Not to Wear.” The salon has access to his line of hair-care products and educational materials. HABA will send one of its stylists to New York City to work with Arrojo.

“Our focus, 100 percent, is on well-trained, highly-educated stylists, before they ever are cutting hair behind a chair,” Ostby said.

Ostby said most of the walk-in business has been college-age men, and so far, many of them have liked the results.

“At some point, all of this hair is going to fall off my head,” said Anthony Cinquepalmi, a graduate student in creative writing and a client of the salon. “But for now, I might as well make it look good.”

Cinquepalmi said a friend referred him to the salon because he takes care of his hair.

“I had a lot of bad haircuts as a child, and it makes me sad to get a bad haircut,” he said. “You have to trust the person who’s defining your hair for months at a time. This is the only place I trust with that endeavor.”

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