Several large canvases of brightly painted doll-like women hang in four rooms with dark furniture, dripping paint wallpaper and skull patterns, drawing the eye around the inside of Skullz Salon.
Mann opened the Kent salon in 2007 and the Akron salon in 2018. Boyd, who is also Mann’s partner, joined the team while completing her master’s degree in art education at #Kent State.
They proudly identify their business as lesbian- and woman-owned, and they aim to make it an inclusive environment. They receive a lot of referrals and clients who share their stories or want to begin their transitions in a safe space. Often, people come to Skullz Salon unsure of how to start their transition or how to express their sexual orientation to family.
“We have a reputation for trust. We are not going to judge you,” Boyd says. “You’re not going to be a weirdo when you come here. You’ll just be among a bunch of other weirdos as well.”
Cosmetology education is prioritized at Skullz Salon. Mann has her stylists complete several classes and use their knowledge to teach classes to others. They have to complete a hands-on apprenticeship after cosmetology school, and other stylists check their work to ensure clients receive the correct services.
The House of Skullz is a separate learning facility a couple doors down from the Skullz Salon. Here, Skullz stylists and other cosmetologists from the community can learn new skills and bridal parties can rent the space to get their hair done. The House of Skullz offers classes cosmetologists cannot necessarily take in school.
“Being able to express my creativity behind my chair is what I do every day,” Mann says.
Mann takes care of the stylists while Boyd runs the social media platforms for the salon. Boyd also expresses her creativity through her paintings and decor in the salon.
With 12,100 followers, its Instagram page displays before and after photos of their clients.
“Huge thank you to Savannah at Skullz Salon for making this look sick,” says Instagram user h3artskull, describing her new orange hair.
“I don’t care where you live, this place is worth the trip!” Andrya says in a Google review. “I’ve never felt better walking out of a salon.”
Mann and Boyd chose a skull to represent their business as a timeless piece that is universal for any person.
“Skulls last forever,” Boyd says, “and so will we.”