by Nat Frothingham
On March 1, hair stylist Danielle Susan McGrory opened “Salon Danielle” in a convenient location with good parking at 9 Northfield Street close to downtown Montpelier.
After 27 years of working as a professional hairstylist, there’s very little that McGrory can’t do with hair — whether it’s an American or European haircut, or colors, or foil, or highlights and lowlights or waxing or blow drying.
In a recent face-to-face meeting with McGrory, she described how she works with new clients.
When new clients phone for an appointment and ask for a haircut, that’s just the beginning. “When they come in, I give them a consultation,” McGrory said.
She will ask her new clients about their life, their work. She will take careful note of their facial features, their height and lifestyle choices. “I would never cut a client’s hair without giving them a free consultation,” she said.
“It’s not about quantity,” McGrory said. It’s not about how many clients come through the door. “It’s about quality”— meaning it’s about getting the results you want and pleasing your client. “I take my time when I do my work,” she said.
McGrory who hails from County Donegal in Ireland — has a richly varied history. “I was a shampoo girl at age 12,” McGrory said disarmingly. After high school she trained in Dublin in an apprenticeship that lasted four and-a-half years. “When I finished my apprenticeship,” she said, “I worked in the south of France for six months. Then I went to England.”
In England, McGrory worked under a hair stylist who had been trained by the British-born hair stylist and international trendsetter Vidal Sassoon. It was Sassoon who popularized the “Bob cut” which quickly became the desired look for a number celebrities and movie stars.
During her time in England, there was a need for someone with McGrory’s experience to fill in — in San Francisco. McGrory raised her hand and offered to go and shortly thereafter she was on her way to San Francisco where she worked for two years. McGrory described San Francisco as “extremely upscale.”
When she left San Francisco, she chose to come to Vermont, a place she was drawn to because of its scenery and four seasons. “It reminded me of home,” she said. In Vermont, her first stop was the Equinox Resort in Manchester where she opened her own small salon. “I was there for nine years,” she said.
For the past several years, McGrory has lived in Central Vermont, and likes it here. “I’m a single mom with two teenagers, a girl who is 14 and a half and a boy who is 16,” she said.
“What I like about Vermont is the seasons,” she said. She also likes Vermonters. “They’re watching out for each other. I have great neighbors,”
Just before the interview ended, McGrory talked with pleasure about her recent work as a wedding hair stylist.
“I recently did a wedding at the Highland Lodge in Greensboro. I did the grand finale for the bride.” The look she created for the bride on her wedding day was as beautiful as it was unforgettable. McGrory remembered watching the bride and the bride’s father walking out together — arm in arm — just before the ceremony began.
One of McGrory’s clients is Marcia Garlisi who has a professional career in state government. Garlisi contributed these remarks about how much it’s meant to her to have McGrory as her hairdresser.
I’ve lived in Vermont for almost 20 years but it wasn’t until I discovered Danielle that I found what I wanted in a hair stylist. Danielle takes the time to know your lifestyle. She studies the shape of your face and asks you about the style that you want. I didn’t want a movie star’s cut but when I walk out of her salon that’s the way I feel and look after she styles my hair. She knows how to layer hair. She understands the different types of hair, the way hair moves and how it behaves. She can handle a hairdryer and brush like no-one else. She’s a complete professional. When she’s finished, my hair looks like a work of art. Danielle has been styling my hair for about seven years and I’ve never left her salon without feeling entirely happy.