Sara Hinckley Paints The Town

Sara Hinckley:  “I want to make people feel good about themselves, love their hair, inspire them, and unleash the inner beauty inside my hair babes!”  Julie Francois Photos. 

Sara Hinckley: “I want to make people feel good about themselves, love their hair, inspire them, and unleash the inner beauty inside my hair babes!” Julie Francois Photos. 

When Sara Hinckley opened her hair salon on New Haven’s State Street ten months ago, she thought of it as an opportunity to rebrand herself and bring her style into New Haven. Now, she’s mapping out the next few years—and making sure that she'll leave a bright, vibrant impact. 

Hinckley is the founder and owner of Sari Paints Creative Space, a salon, hair painting space and blow dry bar  at 963 State St., in New Haven’s East Rock neighborhood. Nine months ago, she opened the space with a professional mission: to make New Haveners feel good about themselves from the inside out, and “unleash the inner beauty inside my hair babes!” 

“I love painting hair and I’ve finally gotten to a point where I can just do hair and not worry about all the other stuff with now having a team to help," she said in a recent interview at the space. "Everyday we just come in, have customers, listen to music, and have fun.” 

Inside, she works alongside a small team of three women and her beloved pekingese dog Mac the Peker, whose tail she has dyed orange, pink and yellow. There's hair stylist Jen Yaccarιno, who has worked with her for two years, foil guru Cristal Herrera, and shop manager Hannah Jayne.

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Around them, the salon is well decorated with marble walls, plants, salon chairs with big mirrors and lights, and a custom made I Got My Hair Painted In New Haven neon sign.

Hinckley is a Connecticut native, born and raised just towns away in Clinton. “I’ve always been a creative person and knew I wanted to be doing something with that, whether it was fashion or beauty,” she said. 

Her creative instinct drove her to attend classes at Paul Mitchell The School in North Haven, where she earned a degree in cosmetology. After graduating, she worked as a salon assistant for three months, then in a salon for a year in a half. Then, at 25, she opened her first very own salon called Roots in Haddam, Conn.

Roots left her feeling restless with the Haddam area, though. Two years ago, she started looking for a new space in New Haven, asking around when she heard about businesses that were moving. She was getting drinks with a friend when a bartender mentioned that a piano store on State Street was leaving.

Hinckley recalled grabbing a friend and running across the street to look inside.  A week later, she had signed a lease for the space. Ten days later, she had sold roots. And two and a half months and $75,000 later, she was opening Sari Paints. 

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“There's many salons in New Haven and many just in this area, but we all specialize in our different styles,” she said. “I wanted to bring mine to New Haven because it’s up and coming and felt it was a good place to do it.”

The salon specializes in hair painting, a new trend in the hair industry. In hair painting, the hair is painted freely by hand. Typically using a real brush and palette, it requires the stylist to have an eye for such a task. It creates more natural-looking and softer tones.

Hinckley said her "thing" is offering colors of the rainbow—bright hues that stand out when they make it onto a head of hair. They include light colors such as blonde, pastels, and lots of pink.

“I love pink and I think just about everyone can do pink,” she said. “I like being a little bit different, being fashion forward, and ahead of the trends.”

Hinckley’s salon also specializes in hair blowouts, custom blonding, and cutting. She said that her team of stylists helps her to “stay on her game and lead them.” 

In March, Hinckley adding teaching to her wheelhouse with new classes in hair dyeing. In the session, she taught attendees tips and tricks about hair painting while performing real time on a model. Coming up, she plans to teach more classes in the summer and fall. 

"I like inspiring other people," she said. "It helps with business and it’s good to teach others what your passionate about.” 

But her work extends beyond New Haven, and beyond Connecticut. When she isn’t in the studio, Hinckley is attending hair shows, taking seminars and forging new collaborations in Orlando, Los Angeles, and even Canada. In traveling, she said she’s able to meet with other creatives and brands to improve her business acumen, and expand her artistic boundaries. 

“It’s inspiring, and I get ideas from traveling," she said. "For example, I’ve wanted to live in California and I feel like I’ve brought a little piece from what I’ve taken away from there to my salon.”

She has also made the internet a destination for her work. She captures and edits everything she posts, from her traveling adventures to the hair transformations she and her team does everyday.

“[Social media] enables people to know who we are and what we represent. It’s helped me grow my business and make a lot of connections with people all over the world.”

To get even more of Sara and her team, check out their website and on social media. Instagram @saripaints / @saripaintscreativespace and on Facebook @saripaintscreativespace