The Block Island Times

New biz: Clayhead Salon + Shoppe

By Judy Tierney | May 04, 2013
Photo by: K. Curtis Clayhead Salon and Shoppe is located just above the Post Office, offering a variety of services, along with the view.

There will be plenty of opportunity to shape up your appearance on Block Island this summer. Perhaps the island will be known as the place to go for nails, massages and hair styles. With one salon and one spa on the island already, another, Clayhead Salon and Shoppe, plans to open by Memorial Day.

Renovations are underway above the post office in the salon space where stylist and colorist Michael-Aaron Capps’ shop will occupy the round room with a view that has been vacant for several years.

Capps tells a personal story about what it means to feel good about yourself and how you look. A recent segment that he made for a news program in his native Charlotte, N.C., was based on his mother’s experience. During the recent job slump, his mother lost her job as an engineer 12 months shy of her retirement. “It was so painful,” Capps said. “A lot of Americans identify themselves through their careers. Their identification is wrapped up in it. I’ve been on a crusade since then to give people a renewed outlook.” The news segment focused on things people can do to get back into the work force.

New Yorker Capps worked out of the Koru Spa on Block Island for several summers. “I developed a lot of relationships here,” Capps said. He wants the shop to reflect how he feels about the island. “I’ve grown passionate about the community. I’ve developed deep relationships with the people here and I developed Clayhead to show my gratitude and my love for the island. I’m bringing my aesthetic to my Block Island shop from top to bottom,” Capps said. “I’m building this place myself. I’m sawing every piece of wood, creating the shampoo room, the display walls, with reclaimed wood and glass.”

Before Capps became a hair stylist, he worked as a correspondent on Fox News in his original hometown, Charlotte, N.C. He had studied vocal performance as a youth, and eventually moved on to New York to perform, where he worked in television. While in New York, he got the bug to work in the salon business. “I realized it was something I wanted to do,” said Capps. “There is a transformational quality. Someone comes in and you can transform their expectations into a reality. You can change someone’s life.”

To learn his skills, he began training at the Carsten Institute about 10 years ago, then trained in both the Vidal Sassoon and Redken Experience, as well as L’Oreal Soho.  
Clayhead Salon + Shoppe will offer more than just haircuts and styling. Two chairs face the windows with a wide ocean view. Capps calls them his “personal sofa thrones” for pedicures, and he notes that the two copper basins for foot baths are hand made. Then he adds that he has been doing the carpentry for the renovations himself, including the recycled cedar shingles on the sides of the chairs.

Two rooms have been partitioned off for massages. All creams and oils for the massages will be naturally derived, as will the chemicals and polishes for nails. “They are low in the spectrum of chemical content. We use results-based lacquer that has no harmful chemical compounds yet dries efficiently and wears longer than most.”
There will also be natural products for sale. Capps will be carrying Aveda hair products, which he said are “ecologically sound.”

A display with home decor products for sale is already filling up with large wooden coffee and sugar scoops and colored glass vases made from recycled bottles. Capps says his merchandise line is being developed with the help of summer islander Melissa Hempstead, who owns a shop in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. “Melissa and I are working in tandem to create home decor retail consisting of natural materials. She is helping me to select all of my inventory. I love her cottagey, coastal decor,” Capps said. Indeed, the blue, white and silver colors in his shop reflect that look. There was one last thing Capps wanted to show The Block Island Times. In front of the display case with retail items, he has installed a movie screen. “I can have fundraisers or wine and cheese catered events. I have lots of seating for small parties,” he said.
Capps said he is looking forward to working with familiar as well as new clients on the island. “It is rewarding when you are able to help somebody attain a positive attitude about themselves through their appearance,” he said. “That made me love this industry.”

The telephone for Clayhead Salon + Shoppe is already installed. Capps can be reached there at 401-466-2440, or at his email address, For more information, visit

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