By Rod Lee
Wall art—scenes from London, Paris and Italy—are the first clue that Lisa Jane’s is not a typical hair salon. The framed pictures are a reflection of Owner Lisa Desjarlais Amaral’s love of travel; as a flute or piccolo in her hands would be evidence of her longtime involvement in the Blackstone Valley Community Band—if those instruments were also on display.
Nestled on Providence Road in a pocket of Linwood that is home to such neighboring enterprises as Foxy Travel, Menard’s (auto service), Pirate’s Cove (fast food), the Linwood Laundromat and the Salvation Army, Lisa Jane’s is by every measure a mirroring of its proprietor’s diverse interests as much as it is a salon known for “color and cutting” as Ms. Desjarlais Amaral puts it. “People say I’m magic at cutting, I don’t know why,” she adds, laughing.
Effusive and outgoing, Ms. Desjarlais Amaral claims “thirty-five years in the business…isn’t that crazy?” Ten of those have been spent as owner of the former Compliments, which she purchased from Pauline Malinowski and Kathy Gonyer when they announced that “we’re no longer going to be owners of this salon.” Ms. Desjarlais Amaral had no intention of owning a hair salon, she admitted. But, in considering her options, staying put made the most sense even though “I held onto no one’s clients except my own.”
The idea of relocating, even possibly acquiring another salon, was not enticing. “I looked at other salons,” she said. “I live in Warwick, Rhode Island, I grew up in Blackstone, I can’t stand the city people.” So the small-town girl remained where she was most comfortable, renting the spot from the Menard family of Foxy Travel (the late Chrissy Menard was a hairdresser and became Ms. Desjarlais Amaral’s landlord), putting her name on the building, setting hours that may seem unusual (Lisa Jane’s is closed Saturdays, for instance, and sometimes on Fridays) and putting everything she had learned about hairdressing from the time she went to work for Pauline Malinowski at Rob Roy in Uxbridge at the age of eighteen to good use.
Her personality permeates the shop. “It’s real homey,” Jillian Ingham, stylist at Lisa Jane’s, whose own career is just starting to take off, said. Part of the reason for this is the welcoming atmosphere that Ms. Desjarlais Amaral has created. “I’ve had people selling pocketbooks, jewelry, whatever they want, here,” she said. “Kathy (Gonyer) has rented a booth here.”
Being more than a hairdresser helps too, in servicing a clientele that consists primarily of women forty to eighty with several “cute ladies” in their nineties thrown into the mix (men are welcome too). “I’m a financial advisor, I’m helping someone with dementia,” Ms. Desjarlais Amaral said.
Allowing time in her schedule for travel is an essential ingredient, and Ms. Ingham is adopting the same approach. “Lisa Jane is going to Canada next week, I’m going to Mexico!” Ms. Ingham said. A client of her boss (since she was four) before becoming an employee, Ms. Ingham said working for Ms. Desjarlais Amaral “has been an amazing experience. A lot of girls I went to school with don’t have jobs.”
Having worked in such different locales as the UK (she lived in England for a while) and Sacramento has only whetted Ms. Desjarlais Amaral’s appetite for further exploration. She will go to Hawaii in October. “I love the outdoors, hiking and camping, and my husband likes to ski, so when he said ʽlet’s go to Jasper (Wyoming),’ I was all in.”
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.