When industry veteran Elizabeth Miskell, who trained with Vidal Sassoon, decided to open her own salon and spa in Cambridge, MD, she gained inspiration from a vacation to Africa. Miskell adorned the walls of Avé Salonspa with her own portraits from the trip, along with authentic African masks and exotic-looking mirrors. The separate spa area, connected to the salon by a soundproof door, features a soothing rainforest environment. "I was very specific about how I wanted the space to look and feel," Miskell says.
Miskell opened her original salon two years ago, but quickly outgrew the space and debuted the current location this summer. Since then, business has tripled. Miskell partnered with Aveda for haircare services because of the company's devotion to green initiatives (Avé Salonspa practices recycling and gives a discount to customers who bring in empty bottles for refills). Skincare services at the spa feature Academie Scientifique products. Avé also offers massage, manicures and pedicures, along with being the only spa in the area to have Zero Balancing, an energy-focusing treatment. "We're trying to offer services that aren't usually found in small towns like this," Miskell says. —L.M.