By Nan Price, Content Manager, MetroHartford Alliance
It’s no coincidence that Alyssa Haley named her Harford-based business Born & Bred. A Hartford native, creative entrepreneur, and licensed cosmetologist, Alyssa provides beauty services and handmade goods from her studio space in Parkville. Here, she shares about what makes Hartford hers.
ALYSSA HALEY: I was born here and my parents are from here. Hartford has always been a home base for us and it feels like home for me. It’s a good place for me to lay roots and operate. I gather inspiration from traveling to other places, but Hartford has always provided me with an underlying stability.
How have you become a part of Hartford and how has Hartford become a part of who you are?
ALYSSA: In Hartford, I’ve found and surrounded myself with people who have the same values and goals. I’ve reached out and met people in the community and started to create with others after I realized I wanted to explore more of my creativity and what I have to offer.
That’s what ties into Hartford being a part of me. I see myself in the people who I align with, which is why I collaborate with them. There’s room here in Hartford to evolve and grow alongside people here who also want to see something beautiful created and form those collaborations. In some ways, we’re intertwined with each other.
With my brand, Born & Bred, on the surface, I’m from here and I’ve been here. I want to engulf and support my city as much as possible. But the name is also about tapping into who you are as a person. Everyone’s different, but whoever we are, we were born that way and we’ve cultivated ourselves to be that way.
In the past, I worked a regular 9-to-5 desk job, which for some is the American dream. But for a lot of people, like me, it’s not. Being in Hartford has enabled me to create, to be involved in the city, and to make beauty in my world, which is fulfilling and restoring. So, Hartford has played a role in my personal growth. This city and the energy here can help you uncover yourself—figure out who you are, what you enjoy, and how you want to evolve.
What makes Hartford unique?
ALYSSA: We really know how to make something out of nothing. People in the community want to make things happen—even if it seems hopeless at times, even in this pandemic, even with all the constraints we’re under right now. People in Hartford are still trying, which I think is so beautiful. It speaks to people’s character.
How do you tell the story of Hartford?
ALYSSA: My friends from outside of Hartford used to call me “the original Hartford advocate.” They were joking, but I’ve always been proud to be a Hartford advocate! I always remind people that what you see about any city in the media isn’t everything. It’s not the complete story.
There’s real beauty here in Hartford. It can be found here if you want to look for it—and it’s existed here for such a long time. For example, my favorite Hartford landmark is the Mark Twain House & Museum. I think about how, years ago, Mark Twain sat on his little balcony overlooking Hartford and wrote these beautiful stories. The roots and the depth of that creativity and art has been here for years—I feel it and I know others do, too. But you either have to look for it or want to see it.