Located in the historic Eastport section of Annapolis, the House of Ebbitt is much more than a conventional beauty shop. As the name implies, the salon resembles a stylish, upscale home and owners Thom and Isabel Ebbitt strive to make customers feel like family.
The Ebbitts approach to working with clients is as unique as its location. In determining the best style to recommend for clients, the Ebbitts consider the whole person, not just their hair.
Over soft jazz and surrounded by décor that’s a mixture of antique and modern, clients are provided with a whole range of services – from hair and skin care to makeup application.
Isabel said they take an interest in their clients’ " You’ve got to put trust in your hairdresser," she said. "You wouldn’t want to go to someone who didn’t have an interest in you.
The Ebbitts have been in Eastport six years. Before that, they were in downtown Annapolis for 18 years and in Georgetown— Washington, D.C.—for 12 years. Both native to Great Britain, Thom and Isabel came to the United States from Scotland in 1970, where Thom was the one-time Scottish National Hairdressing Champion.
From the moment you set foot inside the House of Ebbitt, you know it's not going to be like other salon. Thom Ebbitt coined the term "hairist" to describe what he does. The term is a combination of the words "hair" and "artist," and his artistic flair is seen all over the salon. Clients bask in 19th century French barbershop chairs—the same chair featured in a famous Norman Rockwell print—and other richly-appointed antique furniture nicely accommodates hair and skincare supplies.
The walls are filled with artwork and the Ebbitts maintain a special section of the salon for private consultations. One of the first things that greet visitors at the main entrance is a Marine uniform filled with medals, on loan from longtime client and Maryland state Senator John Astle. The uniform harkens back to Mr. Ebbitt’s past. After art school, Thom joined the RAF at age 19. He was serving in the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force (RAF) when he noticed a buddy was clipping hair on the side. Thom always had a good sense of style, so decided to see if he could clip hair, as well. His work quickly earned him praise and, before long, he decided to make it a career.
Thom studied in a men’s barbershop first, learning different techniques from award-winning stylists and then branched out into shaving and women’s hair. He studied with European star Stan Grey and studied the methods of legendary stylist Vidal Sassoon. - Paul Mitchell - Redken - L'Oreal -
His artistic flair extends beyond hair into his hobbies: photography and jazz. "We have a relaxed, happy atmosphere (at the salon)," he said. "We offer superior work at a good price. We want you to come back." Thom said he has considered a bigger shop with more stylists, but he nixed the idea because he didn't want to lose the personal touch he and Isabel have with devoted clients. Thom enjoys overseeing all the work at the salon and ensures that everyone leaves satisfied.
Thom and Isabel were married in 1967, and have one son, Tieren and moved to Annapolis to raise him. Now grown, he recently completed a tour of duty in the Marines.
Isabel got her start in the business after marrying her husband, and specializes in skin care and makeup, although she’s also an accomplished hair stylist in her own right. A cosmetologist and aesthetician, she studied with Vin Kehoe, the makeup artist for film pioneer Lon Chaney and "The Wizard of Oz." Often, they work together, with Thom handling the hair cut and color and Isabel then working on makeup. "It gives you a great deal of satisfaction to make people look and feel good," Isabel said. "It’s not like a job. It's like having a good time every day. It’s a calling."