April 17, 2019

Longtime Chelsea Crimpers Hair Salon Closes, As Owner Bob Lovuolo Opens a New Chapter

MOVING ON: “I’ve had many wonderful and loyal clients over the years. It has been a great experience, and although Chelsea Crimpers is closed, I still plan to work at what I enjoy doing.” Bob Lovuolo, longtime owner of Chelsea Crimpers hair salon, is proud of his years at the salon, and looks forward to some time off while still being involved in the hair industry.

By Jean Stratton

For more than 45 years, Chelsea Crimpers on Spring Street helped scores of customers look their best. Whether a special style, cut, or color change was needed, owner Bob Lovuolo and his staff could be counted on to provide expert service.

After so many years, Lovuolo decided to close Chelsea Crimpers and take a semi-retirement. “I had an opportunity to sell the building,” he says, “and after all these years, it seemed like a good time to make a change. I still plan to keep my hand in however, and I will be affiliated with the EYStaats & Company Haircutters at 10 Moore Street. I’ll be available for my clients at least two days a week, on Tuesday and Thursday.”

His longtime associate and stylist Armida Bella will also join him at EYStaats.

Interesting Turns

Lovuolo’s path to owning his own hair salon took some interesting turns. A New Jersey native, having grown up in Highland Park, he eventually went into the real estate business in New Brunswick. Then, after serving in the Army, he returned to real estate, but eventually wanted to try something else.

“I had never really thought about hair styling, but my fiancée worked for a friend in the hair salon business. I’d go up to see her there, and I got interested. I was fascinated by hair cutting. I also thought it would be a great opportunity to have my own business. That was always my intention. And, I like people and enjoy interacting with them. This would certainly be an opportunity to do that.”

He attended cosmetology school in New Brunswick, including a year of training to earn his license from the state. Initially, his focus was hair styling and cutting.

He also attended the L’Oreal Academy in New York to further his interest in becoming a color specialist. “I was also always focused on the science and treatment of hair. This was very interesting to me.”

Perfect Spot

Lovuolo worked at a number of salons in the area before opening Chelsea Crimpers in Princeton. As he says, “The space became available, and I thought it would be a perfect spot. I knew and liked Princeton. I had come to University games here and to McCarter many times.”

Spending time with his clients to determine the best style or color was — and is — important to him. Now he is very happy to join EYStaats and Company and continue to share his cutting and color expertise with clients.

EYStaats & Company has a long history of its own, and is surely unique in its own right. To begin, the salon is located in a house dating to 1776. As owner Elaine Staats says of the building, “Just imagine the conversations that took place here back then. If only these walls could talk! The Historical Society has information on this house.

“The Battle of Princeton took place right after the house was built, but today we only have the parking meters to be concerned about!”

The house was built by Captain John Moore, she explains, and the handsome wrought iron front door was once part of a ship, as were the wide plank floorboards. The building was originally located on Nassau Street, and moved in 1921.

The salon features a setting filled with antiques, carefully collected by Elaine Staats. A working fireplace offers a cozy glow on chilly winter days, and, as she points out, “The fireplace is in our cutting and styling area. I also use it to host fresh flowers and my Santa collection in December.”

Interesting Lives

History is certainly on display at this salon, and its stories surely set it apart.

“Another thing that sets us apart,” observes Staats, “is that when people come here, they usually stay. Both clients and employees. People in Princeton are interesting. They have interesting lives. They travel, and we hear their stories, and I think they are interested in the story of our building.”

That history appeals to Bob Lovuolo, as he finds himself in this new setting, and he continues to help his clients look their best.

Certainly, one of the major changes Lovuolo has seen in his years in the hair business is the increasing demand for color. No longer just to cover gray, it has become a fashion statement, with some people changing their color seasonally. And also, at younger and younger ages.

“This has been huge,” he reports. “Today, about 75 percent of clients want color. Also, the safety of the color products has improved dramatically. The non-ammonia products are much safer. Of course, the goal is always to create the most natural look for the hair.”

He points out that older clients should be careful not to have their hair too dark. As one matures, skin tone can change, as well as hair color. “With color for older clients, the advice is: ‘Get older, go lighter!’”

“Repair Work”

From time to time, he has been called upon to do some “repair work,” particularly for do-it-yourselfers who had experienced color glitches, or for people who had mistakes in perms. “Color correction can help repair the problems,” he notes.

Thinning hair is another condition he has treated. “This can be a problem for various reasons, including medical, congenital, also self-induced from improper use of blow dryers or too-hot curling irons.”

It was always important to him to stay up-to-date with all the latest developments, he adds. This was a definite priority. “I always kept up my education in the field, going to seminars, and also attending various learning academies, such as Vidal Sassoon, Paul Mitchell, Redken, and others. It was also an opportunity to travel, as they were located in London, Los Angeles, and Spain, among other places.”

Lovuolo has always been considerate regarding clients who were no longer able to come to the salon. It was not unusual for him to make house calls for a shampoo and set for longtime clients, as so many had become friends.

“Bob was so willing to come to my mother’s house when she developed Parkinson’s, and wasn’t able to get to the salon,” remembers the son of a former client. “We’ll never forget his kindness.”

“I’ve had wonderful clients over the years,” says Lovuolo. “Many loyal customers, people from all backgrounds — from actors at McCarter Theater to people from the University to those in politics and folks in the neighborhood. It’s been a real mix.

“The creativity of the work and the cutting, styling, and color, along with the interaction with the people have been my great enjoyment and pleasure.”

Now, as he opens a new chapter in his career and life, Bob Lovuolo is enthusiastic and optimistic. “I look forward to this. I’ll still work at what I like to do, and I enjoy having the opportunity to do it.”

EYStaats & Company Haircutters can be reached at (609) 924-6696.