By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Mar 25, 2009 at 11:29 AM

Andrea Maleu and Joy Guzikowski say they didn't realize the name they chose for their new salon would become a literal interpretation of the dreams of branching out on their own.

The pair worked together just four doors down the street at the Bay View Hair Studio when the owner retired last year. So when they opened the Phoenix Hair Studio this spring, naming the new shop after the mythical creature that rose from the ashes seemed appropriate enough.

Both Maleu and Guzikowski are third-generation hair stylists, so when the home of Maleu's mother burned to the ground -- which was also her grandfather's home -- Maleu realized that "Phoenix" meant something even more real to her.

"My grandfather built my mother's salon on Howell, and he told me to go to hair school, but it took me a good eight years," says Maleu, co-owner of the salon, 3044 S. Delaware Ave. "The fire was devastating. It was a miracle that my mother survived. 'Phoenix' means death and rebirth, and the day that they signed off on our occupancy, I realized that it was the day of my grandfather's birthday."

The Phoenix Hair Studio is tastefully decorated, but not over-the-top. Maleu and Guzikowski started working on the building last December, and put it together in just over a month. The pair's modesty is reflected in the salon's prices, too: $25 for a haircut for women, $20 for men and $12 for kids under 10.

"We want to keep our prices fair, reasonable and honest," says Maleu. "Sometimes prices can go overboard, especially in this economy.

"We accommodate the client. There are a lot of stylists who say, 'This is what you should have.' We like to hit a common ground, a happy medium. The clients still feel like they're in control, but we can put our artistic spin on it."

For now, the studio employes just three people: business partners Maleu and Guzikowski, and Paula Wenthur, who does nails and manicures. Eventually, the salon might add massage or aesthetics services to the list of options it provides.

Most of the pair's clients have made the short journey up the street, too. It's split between men and women, says Maleu.

The salon's business neighbors, including its landlord, Hector's restaurant, have been very supportive of the new shop, says Maleu. "Everyone has been super cool," she says.

"It was collective chaos in the beginning," says Guzikowski. "But now we're settling in and making this our own."

The Phoenix Hair Studio is open Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.