- November 13, 2021
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RED BANK – For Nicole Rubino, owner of Head Space Salon in Red Bank, hair styling is in her roots.
She was originally into ice cream and worked in multiple ice cream stands and franchises such as Dairy Queen. She also had a hand in banking, but it was just not fulfilling enough in the long run.
“Most of my family does hair,” Rubino said. “They worked at different places around the country and did hair from high-profile clients down to little old nun ladies in Catholic school. I thought it looked fun to see them do different styles with hair and manipulate it in distinct ways. It was cool to see the education and travel and all the things that came with it. I loved the creativity. You can do almost anything and you can really make people feel good about themselves. It’s a great feeling.”
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Most people would have a hard time connecting the dots when comparing ice cream or education to hair styling, but that is not the case for Rubino.
“It all goes back to being creative with your hands and mind,” Rubino said. “The manipulation part of it is what really keeps me coming back. All of those other jobs I had up until this point are related in some way and really inspired my current career path. I saw a lot of creativity in all of my jobs and they are linked through that commonality. My past is a big inspiration to my present.”
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After realizing that those other fields were not for her, Rubino started taking classes at Brookdale Community College. After graduating from Brookdale, she attended the Monmouth County Vocational School for Hair in Freehold, which offered a one-year adult program with 1,200 hours of schooling to get licensed.
“I did well in school, although most of the people in my class were younger than me and right out of high school,” Rubino said. “I was in my early 20s, so there was a little bit of a disconnect there. I felt like I was serious about it and the other girls were there because they didn’t go to college and needed something to fill their time.”
While in school, Rubino was lucky to have a great teacher, but her schooling did not fully prepare her for her career; it just gave her the tools to pass the exams and get her license. Rubino got most of her on-the-job training through an assist program she took right out of hair styling school.
“The assistant programs are what made me what I am today,” Rubino said. “Once you get your license and you pass the state board, you typically go to a salon and just assist other hair stylists. That training teaches you how to formulate color, do haircuts, take consultations and just learn the overall flow of the salon atmosphere.”
Rubino did that for two years, but then met and married her now-ex-husband and they moved to California to start a life together. Rubino started her own salon there called Bleach, she ran for two years.
“The salon culture is different out there, so it is mostly booth rental, which means you rent your station out and pay a weekly flat fee and supply your own color and other products,” Rubino said. “I decided I would like to just have my own space altogether, so I did just that and I ran it for a little over two years.”
Rubino and her husband split and Rubino moved back to New Jersey in 2019. She took a job doing fulltime hair-styling education.
“I was traveling all over the world doing hair shows and advanced education classes,” Rubino said. “I taught licensed stylists advanced education techniques that were always evolving within the industry. That was really rewarding for me because I believe that the act of sharing information among hair stylists is very important, because we can help each other learn better that way. Some stylists are against sharing their secrets because they are afraid they might lose business. I think that is necessary to share information in this day and age, so we can all prosper.”
But the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 a hold on Rubino’s education career. She was out of work for a full year.
“There were no hair shows for me to go to because everything was shut down,” Rubino said. “As far as what I was doing as an educator, traveling and interacting with people, everything was very restricted and limited. That really put a damper on my work life.”
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After being out of work, Rubino knew she wanted to do something different with her time. She decided to start her own studio, but this time, she wanted to do something nearby. One day, she was walking around Red Bank and saw an empty space on Monmouth Street. She spoke to the landlord and made a deal that started Head Space Hair Salon.
“After starting up in February of this year, we offer many different services, including hair-styling, psychic readings and other things,” Rubino said. “When I lived in California, I really developed my intuitive side. I went through the training be able to do psychic readings for people. After opening Head Space, I decided that I would offer both hair styling and psychic readings for my customers. I did not want to give up either one, so I decided to offer both in one facility. It fulfills a lot of things for me and I think my customers love it too.”
Rubino wants to offer more metaphysical events and services to her customers. “We want to bring forth group meditations, sound baths, breath work classes,” Rubino said. “I would also like to expand this space and have a wellness center. I can feel that is where we are headed.”
Location: 76 Monmouth St., Red Bank
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays