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Meet Molly Romano of Public Salon and Shoppe in Arlington Heights

Today we’d like to introduce you to Molly Romano.

Molly, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I would say it all started when my mom gifted me a Kevin Aucoin makeup book. I instantly loved the way he could completely transform someone with a few products, brushes, and of course, his amazing talent! I got to work right away recreating the looks from his book. My passion for makeup is what made me enroll in cosmetology school. My high school offered vocational school at our nearby community college, so I did my cosmetology schooling during my junior and senior year of high school. It was not easy! I basically gave up any hopes of a social life those 2 years. I would drive over to the college halfway through the day, then immediately after cosmetology I would drive another 45 minutes to intern at a salon. This was 6 days a week, nonstop my brain only thought about cosmetology…. and I loved every second of it!

After graduating high school I had my Cosmetology degree and was terrified… I didn’t know where I wanted to work, or if I was even ready to be able to work on a client’s hair AND hold a conversation at the same time. Most of the high end salons in my area were departmentalized, meaning you had to choose…cut or color, not both. I loved doing both, so there was another dilemma. I had trained in cutting while I was interning during school and I had still yearned to do color. So, I went and started a color internship at another salon. It was wonderful, but I found myself wanted to cut my models hair, too. I knew this wouldn’t work for me. I loved creating the look from start to finish, so I couldn’t let go of either cutting or coloring. I found a salon that I agreed with their philosophy and loved that they were so into continued education, and best part… I could work on my client’s look from start to finish. I built up my clientele here very quickly, I’d say within a year and half I was fully booked. I had won a trip to the Schwarzkopf academy in New York and absolutely fell in love with Schwarzkopf professional. I immediately wanted to start a relationship with this company, they are always focused on innovation and education and I wanted in! Unfortunately, the corporate salon I was working in was not looking to change color lines, so I took the very scary leap of starting my own business in a studio. I will say I ended up loving the freedom, especially after coming from a corporate salon and having to work open to close on Saturdays and Sundays for an entire year, I got to make my own schedule and had time for friends and family. I had my daughter Allison that year! She has been my number one inspiration in my life!

As a single mom, I wanted to show her that she can have whatever she wants in life and that she doesn’t need a man to do it for her. Everything I’ve accomplished in my life is for her! I started getting into social media and realized I didn’t have to spend a fortune on marketing anymore! Yay! Instagram and Pinterest were the best things that happened to my career! How easy is it to take a quick picture of the beautiful hair you just created and then upload it for the world to see?! I immediately started getting calls, emails, and texts inquiring about booking with me.

Around this time I had started my own makeup line, Bella Donna by Molly Romano, custom cosmetics blended to match each individual… which was so helpful when creating the perfect look for my brides. I knew it was time to hire an assistant, and heard about Alexandria. Alex had just finished school at the art institute and was enrolled in cosmetology school. I met with her and knew right away she was a perfect fit! She worked as my assistant for 2 years and I saw her grow into an amazing stylist!! I knew I couldn’t offer her employment as a stylist, since I was just renting a chair at the time, so I tried to get her to work downtown. She did, and enjoyed it, but ultimately wanted to come back to work with me. So, I had her using my station on the hours or days I was not there. Meanwhile, my other assistant was getting ready to work as a stylist on the floor, so I had to start thinking if I could really grow my business while just renting a chair. I decided to start looking around just to see how much a space would be to open my own salon and expand my business. I was absolutely terrified, I really enjoyed working where I was, and it was easy. I was scared of the unknown, but also completely intrigued and curious of what I could accomplish with taking this big step.

I made the decision to take the big step forward in May of 2015… I found a space in a PERFECT location! The heart of downtown Arlington Heights!! It was a salon previously that was there for 27 years and needed a lot of remodeling, but I saw great potential! This was the most trying time of my life, by far!! Trying to deal with building permits, figuring out how to make my own architectural drawings, contractors trying to take advantage of the fact that I’m a woman and had never dealt with construction before… insert eye roll…. ultimately, firing and hiring a new contractor, who was amazing… phew! Construction took about 3-4 months, which felt like 10 years. Everything was down to the wire to open before Halloween. Of course, that same week my fiancé and I were moving into our new home. Stressed to the max! It was all worth it in the end!! The Public Salon and Shoppe was open for business and the excitement was tremendous!! We had a very busy first week!! Our grand opening party had an insane turn out,
Life after opening the salon has been anything but boring; from moving into our home, getting married to the man of my dreams, and adding our beautiful son, Owen to our family. All of which happened in the span of a year!
The salon is thriving, and all thanks to my amazing team!! They all mean the world to me! The salon is my home away from home, these stylists are my second family, and I couldn’t be more proud of each of them!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Of course it has not always been a smooth road, but how would you know to appreciate the good times without the bumps in the road along the way?

I’ve come to realize that things happen, sometimes horrible things, but you cannot control everything in life. You have to learn to move forward and let things go. Focus on the good.

Public Salon and Shoppe – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Public Salon and Shoppe is a hair haven for those hip, trendy suburbanites that want that city feel. We specialize in balayage or hand painted highlights, vivid, fun colors, precision hair cutting, and event styling and makeup. I am most proud of the amazingly talented team that I have, they are hardworking, extremely passionate and dedicated to continuing to grow with this ever changing industry.

I think that our portfolios speak for the level of artistry you get at The Public, which we are updating daily on our Instagram and Facebook pages. Our happy and loyal clients that send all of their family, friends, or sometimes strangers that stop them and ask them where they got their hair done. We also have a boutique up front filled with apparel, jewelry, vegan candles and bath products. Most of our items are from other small businesses, which we love to support!

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Definitely the proudest moment of my career was having all our families, friends, and clients come and see the salon at the grand opening party. It was a surreal moment for me to see all those people there to celebrate. I needed that moment to stop for a second and look around at all that I had accomplished.


  • Hair cut $45+
  • Balayage/ Hair Painting $150+
  • Blow out $30+
  • Upstyle $75+
  • Makeup $65+

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