Words, photos and video by Olivia Bauso
Empowering women through style is not always the easiest task, but Andrea Bonawitz is up for the challenge.
As owner of and stylist at Andrea Bonawitz Image Consulting and Parlour Hair Salon, Andrea’s ultimate goal is to help women navigate personal style and identity through image from head to toe. She explains, “Women go through so many physical changes in their lives. I want to empower them so that whether they’re in the beginning, middle or end of their life journey, they go through that change with a really strong sense of identity.”
Andrea, a Rochester native, attended cosmetology school before eventually earning her degree in fashion. As a theatre arts kid, she’s always loved dressing up, costumes, makeup and performance. Following some time working in fashion in Buffalo, New York City and Italy, Andrea found herself back in Rochester. She says, “I just realized how awesome Rochester was after being away. It’s a great place to come back to if you’re regrouping or if you want to put some roots down.”
While working as a renting stylist in Rochester for about four years, Andrea recognized that hair led to conversations about image that were more holistic. She explains, “Hair leads to conversation about makeup, wardrobe and other things. I felt like I had this knowledge base-- in fashion-- that I was sitting on, but I wasn’t able to give it back to clients like I was with hair information.” Andrea began taking small shopping trips with her clients, taking their image discussion beyond hair, and eventually decided to put these services on a menu. Thus, Andrea Bonawitz Image Consulting was born, along with Parlour Hair Salon.
Parlour is now three years old, and has grown quickly since its inception. Andrea says, “Parlour was really the result of my vision coming together. I didn’t want to be a hair stylist that only did hair, I wanted to consult with clients from a head to toe aspect, even if what I’m delivering that day is one service.”
In addition to offering a unique set of services, Parlour’s mission holds a strong educational component. Andrea explains, “I see myself as a stylist at the core, but I’m a stylist who loves to educate others. So I don’t just offer services, I offer service and coach each client.” Andrea’s love for one-on-one coaching has now grown into teaching larger groups. This way, she is able to have more open-ended discussions with women about problems they face with wardrobe, hair or other image-related topics. She says, “I want to help clients develop connections and community where they don’t feel alone or isolated.”
In the end, Andrea just wants to take topics relating to image that can be intimidating-- particularly to women, and break them down in a way that’s simple, understandable and fun. Image is important, not because of what the media or society says, but because it is an extension of yourself. Andrea explains, “If you have a really strong sense of your self, that will spill into your sense of style. I’m helping you figure out your style identity for yourself as you figure out who you are.”
Moving forward, Andrea hopes to continue growing her salon and consulting business, but is ready for whatever the universe presents to her. She says, “I thought when I started out it was going to be one way, and it turned out the other way.”
Learn from Andrea at one of her upcoming classes this June! Tickets are available for her 6/18 How to Build A Capsule Wardrobe and 6/10 How to Dress For Your Body Shape classes. A portion of each ticket sold will be donated to Dress For Success. We also ask students to please bring any gently used jewelry and accessories to class to be donated directly to Dress For Success.