Straight away, ION Studio feels a bit like a secret society to which one must come wielding a password at the front door. As I make my way down the cobbled SoHo street in search of the elusive, hidden-away eco-friendly space, I take pause at what first appears to be an abandoned storefront. Cautiously climbing the front stoop, I peer in warily before buzzing my way in. After gaining entry, one must walk down a dimly lit, cave-like hallway to reach the actual front door, which is tucked all the way in the back of the building.
However, when I fling open the door, eager to relieve my curiosity, I am immediately enveloped in bright, streaming white light flooding into the clean, wide space from the skylights covering the soaring ceilings. A trio of smiling receptionists (all with fantastic hair) greet me with offers of coffee or water and whisk me into a comfortable chair to await the arrival of Pasquale Ferrante, one of the three Italian owners, along with Leonardo Manetti and Marco Santini, of ION.
Pasquale turns out to be charming, dapper, and extremely well-versed and passionate, not only about hair, but about all things “green.” Sporting a skinny cardigan and a fedora, he looks more like he belongs in a dark, smoky Lower East Side speakeasy than an ecologically sound hair salon. But two hours later, I find that he’s filled my head with terms like plywood and reclaimed tree bark (which is what the salon itself is built from), wind power (an initiative they’re working on), and recyclable packaging (Davines, the luxe brand of hair products ION carries, uses only recyclable bottles). As if this weren’t enough, they also ship out all cut hair clippings in boxes (at their own cost) to a company called Excess Access, which gives it to Matters of Trust to use to aid in soaking up oil spills. Now that’s true awareness.
After our informative talk, and a little side trip to a shampoo station wherein I get a long, utterly relaxing scalp massage, Pascuale wields his scissors and studies my reflection in the mirror for a moment before going to work. He snips away with confident breeziness while regaling me with tales of the bicycle he rides around the city or of shopping at the green markets in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Before I know it, I am standing up, brushing myself off, and walking away with the single most flawless bang trim and hair cut I have ever received. I am notoriously picky about my bangs, as they are almost always cut too short or just a bit crookedly. In other words, Pasquale, along with ION Studio, has just earned a believer for life.
I launch myself out of the building into the cold sunlight a few minutes later, dog in tow (yes, they are dog friendly in the salon), happily secure in the knowledge that, at least for the moment, I have perfect hair and I’ve done something good for the environment. Quite a feat for an early Saturday morning.
Leonardo Manetti, Pasquale Ferrante, and Marco Santini