Tag Archives: salon

A House Becomes a Beauty Salon

May 24, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The Grey House Salon near 87th and Center streets is called that because it’s gray in color, and it’s shaped like a house.

In fact, it was someone’s house many years ago.  The remnant layout reveals a kitchen, living quarters, and bathrooms.

The house was converted into a beauty salon more than 20 years ago, and was known as Sheer Madness for decades before being vacated a couple of years ago.

When business partners Carmen Stukenholtz and Lacey Ward started looking for a place to open their own salon last year, they remembered the large “Sheer Madness” sign they saw numerous times while driving and sought out the mid-century style house.

“Originally, we wanted to call our business ‘Trust Me Boutique,’ but our lawyer discovered that Nebraska law prohibits businesses from having ‘trust’ in their name because it is misleading,” says Stukenholtz, who worked with Ward for 13 years at another salon before the friends embarked upon becoming business owners together.

There is, indeed, a law from 1924 on the books that states there can be no use of the word “trust” in an LLC.

“We remembered the house, and once we saw it and toured the inside, we knew it was what we wanted. It had a crazy vibe that was different from everything else we saw. It wasn’t generic,” Stukenholtz says.

They bought it, and then painted it gray.

“It’s memorable and easy to find. When we tell people how to find us, we can just tell them to look for the gray house.”

Before opening last summer, Stukenholtz and Ward—along with their husbands and friends—spent two months removing outdated fixtures and décor dating back to the ’80s and ’90s to modernize the salon.

The bulk of the work was strictly cosmetic.

In addition to painting the outside of the building its distinctive gray color, they pulled up carpet and put in new flooring; replaced the work stations with new, sleek mirrors, sinks, and chairs; gave each room an individual paint color and feel; converted the reception area into a plush, gender-neutral environment (they have a large male clientele as well as serve children) with comfortable seating and surroundings; and even found new uses for bathtubs that remained from when it was someone’s house.

“In the bathrooms, my husband covered the bathtubs with plywood and created interesting planters to lighten up the rooms and make them feel more like home and provide some green space,” Ward says. “It’s been a great location for us. We really put both of our personalities in the paint colors, décor, and furnishings. It feels like home.

“We really wanted the interior to have a very comfortable, home-like feel to it, which is one of the biggest reasons we chose this house rather than renting space in a strip mall. Everything we did here, we did ourselves. We wanted this to be an extension of our homes.”

Both women say owning their own business has been simultaneously rewarding and terrifying.

Despite the uncertainty of being responsible for the livelihoods of themselves as well as three other stylists and a front desk manager, they remain committed to their dream and are excited to enjoy the continued growth of their business past this first year.

“Our first goal is to always do the right thing by and for other people, including ourselves,” says Stukenholtz, adding that they are planning some sort of celebration July 31 to commemorate their first year of operation.

“When you have people depending upon your business decisions so they have paychecks to support themselves and their families, it makes you evaluate everything very carefully,” she says. “But we are so excited to be running our own business. It’s something Lacey and I talked about for years, and now we’re living it. It’s a dream come true.”

Visit thegreysalon.house for more information.

From left: Lacey Ward and Carmen Stukenholtz

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

Editor’s note: Ms. Stukenholtz’ name was originally misspelled as Stuckenholtz.

Destinations

February 22, 2017 by

AKSARBEN VILLAGE

Horse stalls went bye-bye long ago. Now, Aksarben Village is losing car stalls, too. But that’s a good thing, as far as continued growth of the former horse-racing grounds goes. Dirt is overturned and heavy equipment sits on the plot extending north and east from 67th and Frances streets, formerly a parking lot for visitors to the bustling area. That’s because work has commenced at the corner on what will become HDR’s new global headquarters, which opens some time in 2019. The temporary loss of parking will be offset by great gain for Aksarben Village — a 10-story home for nearly 1,200 employees with a first floor including 18,000 square feet of retail space. HDR also is building an adjacent parking garage with room for ground-level shops and restaurants. But wait, car owners, there’s more. Farther up 67th Street, near Pacific, the University of Nebraska-Omaha is building a garage that should be completed this fall. Plenty of parking for plenty to do.

BENSON

A continental shift has taken place in Benson — Espana is out and Au Courant Regional Kitchen is in, offering Benson denizens another food option at 6064 Maple St. That means a move from now-closed Espana’s Spanish fare to now-open Au Courant’s “approachable European-influenced dishes with a focus on regional ingredients.” Sound tasty? Give your tastebuds an eye-tease with the menu at aucourantrestaurant.com. Also new in B-Town: Parlour 1887 (parlour1887.com) has finished an expansion first announced in 2015 that has doubled the hair salon’s original footprint. That’s a big to-do at the place of  ’dos.

BLACKSTONE DISTRICT

The newest Blackstone District restaurant, which takes its name from Nebraska’s state bird, is ready to fly. Stirnella Bar & Kitchen, located at 3814 Farnam St., was preparing to be open by Valentine’s Day. By mid-January it had debuted staff uniforms, photos of its decor, and a preview of its delectable-looking dinner menu. Stirnella (Nebraska’s meadowlark is part of the genus and species “Sturnella neglecta”) will offer a hybrid of bistro and gastro pub fare “that serves refined comfort food with global influences,” plus a seasonal menu inspired by local ingredients. Fly to stirnella.com for more.

DUNDEE

Film Streams (filmstreams.org) made a splash in January announcing details on its renovation of the  historic Dundee Theater. Work began in 2017’s first month on features including:

Repair and renovation of the original theater auditorium, which will be equipped with the latest projection and sound technology able to screen films in a variety of formats, including reel-to-reel 35mm and DCP presentations.

A throwback vertical “Dundee” sign facing Dodge Street.

An entryway that opens to a landscaped patio/pocket park.

New ticketing and concessions counters.

A store with film books, Blu-ray Discs and other cinema-related offerings.

A café run through a yet-to-be-announced partnership.

A 25-seat micro-cinema.

Oh, yeah, they’ll show movies there, too. And Dundee-ers won’t have long to wait—the project should be completed by the end of 2017.

MIDTOWN

In a surprise to many—especially those holding its apparently now-defunct gift cards—Brix shut its doors in January at both its Midtown Crossing and Village Pointe locations. It was not clear at press time what factor, if any, was played by a former Brix employee, who in late December pleaded not guilty to two counts of felony theft by deception after being accused of stealing more than $110,000 as part of a gift card scheme. Despite the closing, Midtown has celebrated two additions of late as the doors opened to the “Japanese Americana street food” spot Ugly Duck (3201 Farnam St.) and to Persian rug “pop-up shop” The Importer.

NORTH OMAHA

The restoration of North Omaha’s 24th and Lake area continues its spectacular trajectory. In January, the Union for Contemporary Art moved into the completely renovated, historic Blue Lion building located at 2423 N. 24th St. The Blue Lion building is a cornerstone in the historic district. Originally constructed in 1913, the Blue Lion is named after two of the building’s earliest tenants: McGill’s Blue Room, a nightclub that attracted many nationally known black musicians, and Lion Products, a farm machinery distributor. The entire district was listed as a federally recognized historic district in April 2016.

According to its website, “The Union for Contemporary Art is committed to strengthening the creative culture of the greater Omaha area by providing direct support to local artists and increasing the visibility of contemporary art forms in the community.” Founder and executive director Brigitte McQueen Shew says the Union strives to unite artists and the community to inspire positive social change in North Omaha. “The organization was founded on the belief that the arts can be a vehicle for social justice and greater civic engagement,” she says. “We strive to utilize the arts as a bridge to connect our diverse community in innovative and meaningful ways.”

The Union will be hosting the annual Omaha Zinefest March 11. Event organizer Andrea Kszystyniak says Zinefest is a celebration of independent publishing in Nebraska. Assorted zines—essentially DIY magazines produced by hand and/or photocopier—will be on display at the free event, and workshops will be offered to attendees.

OLD MARKET

M’s Pub fans had plenty to be thankful for in November following the announcement that the Old Market restaurant would rise from the ashes of the January 2016 fire that destroyed the iconic eatery. Various media quoted co-owner Ann Mellen saying the restaurant would reopen this summer. Construction has been steady at the restaurant’s 11th and Howard, four-story building, but customers weren’t sure M’s would be part of the rebirth until Mellen’s well-received comments. Mellen says the feel—and the food—will be the same. Even if the name may change.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Encounter.

Show Of Hands

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

If you love trips to the museum and trips to the manicurist, Imagine Uhlenbrock is your one-stop shop for a day of art, style, and self-care all rolled into one stunning experience.

Uhlenbrock is the “nail genie” and artist behind Just Imagine Nails. Keratin is her canvas and her work is constantly showing on the hands of happy clients throughout Omaha.

“I started doing my own nails when I was about 4, because I was an only child and it was something I could do for myself,” Uhlenbrock says.

Her interest in nail art grew through middle school and high school, culminating in her first steady nail job at a downtown Omaha salon. It was meant to be her college job, but Uhlenbrock loved the craft so much she launched her own business doing natural, ethical nails at age 19.

For those skeptical that a manicurist can be a “real” artist, one look at Uhlenbrock’s vibrant Instagram portfolio provides ample evidence of her artistry and talent. Intricate, hand-painted designs, patterns, and messages mingle with hand-placed bling. Colors and textures pop, and unique, creative themes inspire the urge to scroll right on down the rabbit hole because no two sets are alike and your eyeballs will want to collect them all.

 

 “It’s just like commissioning any other piece of art,” Uhlenbrock says. “I always have ideas, so I have clients who just come in and let me do whatever I want every two weeks, or sometimes they come in with a theme or idea in mind. Most of the time it’s a collaborative process and we customize it based on the vision and what they’re feeling like that week.”

This process has resulted in galaxy nails, Vegas- and beach-themed vacation nails, desert sunset nails, snowflake and Christmas nails, Fourth of July “red, white, and bling” nails, Ouija board nails, Netflix and chill nails, ice cream and French fry nails, nails that are geometric, plaid, rainbow, floral, color-blocked, gradient, holographic or chrome, and nails that mimic abstract paintings, among others.

“I take inspiration from everywhere. The print of your dress, the pattern of that chair, the texture of this pillow, someone’s artwork,” Uhlenbrock says.

Then there are the pop culture nails. She’s done sets that honor artists including Eartha Kitt, Prince, Beyoncé, and Frida Kahlo, that appreciate cultural icons ranging from Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson to Grumpy Cat, that recognize the Broadway Hamilton phenomenon, that reference literature from Harry Potter to local author Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, and that celebrate TV shows from The Golden Girls to The Powerpuff Girls. Her popular annual Halloween special has taken inspiration from The Addams Family, Stranger Things, The X-Files, and Hocus Pocus sets, as well as one of her personal all-time favorites: Michael Jackson “Thriller” nails.

“You can see from my themes that I like weird,” Uhlenbrock says. “I’ll put anything on a nail as long as it’s not problematic.”

Uhlenbrock’s political work is also incredibly compelling. She’s done anti-pipeline nails, Black Lives Matter nails, and nails that read “Go Vote,” among others.

“One of the roles of an artist is to get people to think or to spread certain messages. Nail art is no different than any other art form in that way,” Uhlenbrock says. “That’s how art and social justice can intersect by creating visuals, sounds, or whatever the medium to raise awareness, to educate, or to relieve pain and pressure for the oppressed. So, a lot of what I do is people’s regular self-care.”

In December 2016, Uhlenbrock opened her Hand of Gold Beauty Room space in the Fair Deal Village Marketplace, near 24th and Lake streets. She currently shares the space with two subcontractors, Qween Samone and Ria Gold, who help support the service menu of natural nails, makeup, and braiding. Uhlenbrock enjoys working in the thriving area among neighboring small business owners and she’s committed to using her space to support her peers.

“We support small businesses here,” Uhlenbrock says. “Economic disenfranchisement has been a huge tool of oppression against people of color. So, it’s really important to me as I grow and have my own economic development to reach out and empower others through that as well.”

Uhlenbrock stocks body care products from Lincoln-based Miss Kitty and Her Cats, pieces from Omaha’s Amaral Jewelry, and gets all of her regular polishes from Ginger + Liz, a black woman-owned, vegan-friendly, toxin-free nail lacquer company. She also sells jewelry from her other business, The Bigger the Hoops.

Besides providing an important platform for a network of artists and makers, the petite Hand of Gold Beauty Room just feels like a place you want to be. A plush, amber-colored couch beckons from the pedicure platform that Uhlenbrock and her mother hand-built. The walls are decked with striking work by Lincoln artist Brittany Burton, featuring black-and-white depictions of “thick” women with sparse flashes of green and yellow. Soul music fills the air and large windows let ample natural light stream in.

“Everyone should probably go to a therapist, but not everyone does—some people get their nails done instead,” Uhlenbrock says. “They can come here, have a good conversation, and leave feeling like a million bucks with something good to look at for a couple weeks. It’s a lot easier to feel like you have your shit together when your nails are on point.”

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Encounter.

Shave and a Haircut

October 6, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Erik Anderson was new to Omaha and needed a haircut.

A good one.

The guy had a sales job and needed to look sharp. But who to trust with his precious locks—some chain?

“You never know what kind of haircut you’re going to get,” Anderson says. “You could get a great haircut or walk out of there looking like a doofus. I’m not going to go that route.

“I started going to women’s salons. I knew I could trust them.”

That was two years ago. Now, Anderson gets his ’do done at his own place—Scissors & Scotch, which opened in March at 2835 South 170th Plaza.

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As its name suggests, there’s much more to Scissors & Scotch than just a great cut. The new shop offers an upscale grooming experience featuring traditional barbering services (in plush, old-school barber chairs) and modern spa treatments: steamed towels; hot lather neck shaves; scalp, neck, shoulder, and hand massages; paraffin hand dips; facial and skin services; colorings…even nose waxings. There’s a shoe shine station on Thursdays. And full body massages are on the way.

All for dudes.

Oh, yeah, and when customers are done, one of five complimentary hand-crafted whiskey cocktails await them in a private lounge.

“There’s nothing like this right now,” Anderson says. “I would put it up against any place in the country.

“It’s not just a haircut at Scissors & Scotch, it’s an experience. We haven’t had one person come back and say, ‘That was terrible.’ Most guys are like, ‘Wow, that was awesome.’”

Anderson didn’t do it all alone. He’s equal partners with longtime friend Sean Finley, whom he grew up with in Prairie Village, Kansas, and Tanner Wiles, a friend he met at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where Anderson played baseball before earning his degree in 2011.

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Anderson later worked for Federated Insurance, which moved him from Minneapolis to Omaha in April 2013. That’s when he first went looking for a haircut. While researching his options, Anderson saw that men’s grooming had become the fastest growing part of the beauty industry.

“That really intrigued me and I got really excited about it.”

Why not open his own place? Anderson brought that idea to Finley and Wiles one night at a bar in early 2014. Not one of them had any experience in the grooming industry but the trio soon discussed the idea by group text message. Then they met regularly, working on documents and video conferencing via Google Hangouts. Wiles worked in sales at Ambulatory Care in Kansas City; Finley completed his law degree in Columbia, Missouri (he’s now a corporate attorney at Husch Blackwell in Kansas City).

They hammered out the concept of Scissors & Scotch, leveraged whatever assets they possessed at such tender ages (Finley and Wiles are 27, Anderson 26), and got an SBA loan. In August 2014 they signed a lease at Shops of Legacy. This March, they opened with nine employees, not counting themselves.

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Response exceeded expectations. Six weeks after opening, Scissors & Scotch averaged 80 new clients per week and about 30 haircuts a day. More than 60 percent of the customers opted for the $52, “15-year service” (as in the age of fine Scotch). Its membership program—the Scotch-inspired 10-, 15- and 25-year packages with escalating benefits at each level—was expected to generate 100 sales the first year. Scissors & Scotch sold 90 the first month.

“It’s really encouraging,” Anderson says. “Each week we’ve done more haircuts than the previous week since we opened.”

And all of it by word-of-mouth advertising (though Scissors & Scotch recently started advertising on AM 590).

“I’ve had a lot of guys say, ‘This is Omaha, Nebraska, right? This is something I expect to see in a Chicago or a New York or a Dallas.’”

Thanks to Anderson, Omaha it is.

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On a Lark

October 23, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Between running errands, picking up the kids from school, grocery shopping and work, it’s difficult for a woman to find some time for herself. Thankfully, if you have an hour and you happen to be near 120th and Blondo, a good spur-of-the-moment pampering just got a lot easier.

Lark Blow Dry Studio is the first of its kind in Omaha and focuses on only one thing: Blowouts. “That concept is huge on the east and west coasts,” says Sara Slimp, Lark’s founder. “By only doing blowouts, it allows us a lot of flexibility for our clients. We’re here to do one thing and to do it well.”

A blowout, for those who don’t know, includes a wash, a blow-dry, and a style of your choice: anything from straight as a board to beach waves or curls. Keep in mind that blowouts aren’t just for feeling pampered. Lark caters to women who want a sleek style for dates, job interviews, business functions, and more.

Unlike many hair studio and spa owners around the Omaha metro, Slimp doesn’t have a background in cosmetology. Laughing, she confesses that she’s actually an accountant by trade. Prior to opening Lark, she had worked in corporate America. While she loved her time there, she was ready for something different.

Slimp says she has a bucket list of things she wishes to accomplish in her lifetime. After leaving her last job, the universe aligned with her decision to open a blow-dry studio. “It just kept happening,” Slimp says. “I found a location. I got a loan. All of a sudden I owned a blow dry studio.” Slimp adds that her background in accounting has been a huge asset for starting a new business.

The studio certainly is a welcoming space. The vibe lingers somewhere between funky and glamorous, yet casual. When you arrive, you’re even offered a tablet, allowing you to read magazines while you wait or as you get your hair done.

“Eventually they set it aside,” Sara mentions. “We don’t take time in our culture to just sit and be. Here, there’s not anyone pulling on you or demanding anything from you. And women need that.  The next time women come in they don’t even ask for a tablet.”

Be warned, ladies: If you’re seeking a cut and color in addition to your blow dry, you won’t find that at Lark. Blowouts, which are $40, are the salon’s only offering. Slimp says that keeping things simple gives her more flexibility when working with their clients. Appointments, even those made the day of a desired blow out, are easily bookable from your computer or phone. “When you’re a mom, self-care is so important,” Slimp says. “No matter where you’re at in life—a caregiver, a mom, a busy professional—taking an hour for yourself and getting your hair done makes you feel good.”

Tonsorial Traditions

September 1, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The best place to start an experience at 18/8, a new men’s salon in Aksarben Village, is, perhaps, with the name itself, a reference to stainless steel—steel plus 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel.

“When it was transformed, stainless steel was better—it performed better, it looked better, it worked better,” says Omaha 18/8 owner Michael Wohlgemuth.

“That’s kind of the metaphor we use for 18/8. We want to transform the male to be better—to look better, to be better performing, to get better results in how they feel about themselves.”

It’s a metaphor for 18/8 itself, too, which, since its opening in May, is striving to transform the Omaha man’s professional grooming experience.

“We try to cater to men in a semi-private atmosphere where they get the opportunity to relax and enjoy the experience,” Wohlgemuth says. “Most barber shops and salons line up chairs or cubicles. We turn ours at angles and have walls between stations. In our salon, the highest number of people getting services at one time would be three, and they would be protected—they don’t have 10 or 12 other men staring at them.”

It’s a formula that’s proved popular in other locations. More than 20 18/8 salons have opened or are slated to open in California, Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, and Texas.

Scott Griffith and Ron Love started the franchise in California. Wohlgemuth and his wife, Debbie, decided to bring 18/8 to Omaha (likely soon in more than one location beyond the existing one at 1920 S. 67th St.) because they felt the salon’s approach was a new one for the city.

Men can book services—including haircuts, hair and beard coloring, shaves, facials, manicures, scalp treatments, and waxing—online or via phone. They can walk into the salon, too, though clients with reservations receive priority. In any case, every visitor is greeted first by a DOFI—a Director of First Impressions—who confirms services to be received and leads guests to the first semi-private area of the bright, modern salon: a couple of sleek arm chairs flanked by a mini fridge and mounted flat-screen TV. The DOFI makes a note of clients’ preferred beverages for future visits, Debbie Wohlgemuth says, then escorts men to the back, where they can remove and hang their shirts and put on a robe. A stylist or barber will put on an additional cape when clients get to a chair.

“We don’t want hair anywhere on a man when he leaves,” Michael Wohlgemuth adds. “When he leaves, he can go right out on a date or to a wedding or back to work without having to worry about going home first.”

The salon’s team of stylists and barbers (barbers are able to provide a clean shave with a straight blade) are trained to tailor hairstyles to men’s individual heads, Michael Wohlgemuth says. They won’t simply snap on a guard and cut the hair around it, for example. Every client gets a hot towel upon arrival and a shampoo and conditioning before and after hair services.

“We think the experience is kind of a lost art, and we’re trying to revitalize it,” Michael Wohlgemuth says. “We think we’ve just taken the experience up a notch.”

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Rebecca Forsyth

March 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“I think I always wanted to be a hairdresser,” says Rebecca Forsyth, 26.

With a mother as a receptionist in a hair salon, it’s no wonder that Forsyth aspired to work in a salon, as she spent a good deal of her childhood in one. As Forsyth got older, she veered from the cosmetology path and attended a traditional, four-year college. “At the end of it all, having cut all of my friends’ hair in my kitchen since high school, I realized hair was still where my heart was.”

Forsyth moved to Omaha about five years ago from Sioux Falls, S.D., to attend cosmetology school at Capitol School of Hairstyling and is currently a stylist at Bungalow/8 off 105th and Pacific Street. “It’s a fabulous and beautiful space, and I couldn’t dream of a better fit,” she says of the salon. “Everyone working there is so inspired and passionate.”

Hair color is Forsyth’s specialty. She’s an American Board Certified Haircolorist, an honor only attained by 1,700 stylists in the U.S. But she also has interests in styling. “I collaborate with a lot of photographers, fashion designers, and other creative types locally in both photo and video work, so I’m constantly working to help others realize their vision.” In addition to her hair coloring and styling credits, Forsyth has also developed a number of hairstyling tutorials with Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik, co-founder of Hello Holiday, an Omaha womens wear ecomerce site. The tutorials have been seen in magazines, reblogged, and pinned thousands of times on Tumblr and Pinterest.

“I haven’t worn pants in like seven years. I’m very into femininity but certainly a bit country and a bit rock and roll.”

From braids to blowouts to beehives, Forsyth says she loves it all. “My love of styling has really helped me to find ways to work on teaching my clients while they’re in my chair how to style their own hair at home. Before I was a hairdresser, I was always so frustrated that my hair would look great when I’d leave the salon, but I would be clueless about what to do with it when I was at home in front of the bathroom mirror. I’ve made it my mission to try to bridge that gap.”

Her clientele is very diverse, ranging from men and women, young and old. She also sees many clients with long hair and red hair. “I was a redhead myself for many years, which is likely where my eye for red comes from.”

As for her personal style, Forsyth describes her look as “a mixture of Brigitte Bardot, a Bradley doll, Dolly Parton, and a 1960s airline stewardess.” She explains that she’s very influenced by the late ‘60s big hair, lipstick, and winged eyeliner. “I haven’t worn pants in like seven years. I’m very into femininity but certainly a bit country and a bit rock and roll. You are as likely to find me in cowboy boots or a square dancing dress as you are to find me in a fabulous jumper and pair of heeled Mary Janes.”

Her favorite styling products and tools include:

  • Mason Pearson Popular Mixture hairbrushes—“It’s the Rolls Royce of brushes and has helped me produce amazing styling results.”
  • Kerastase’s Ciment Thermique—“Many of my blonde clients will tell you I’m also a huge fan. [It’s] a product that protects from heat and helps to rebuild broken and damaged hair. I’ve seen incredible results with it.”
  • Bumble and bumble Spray de Mode—“It holds fabulously and provides great texture and body but is still dry and brushable, which is great for re-styling and avoiding that 1980s shellac-ed look.”

Fringes

Shortly after starting cosmetology school in Omaha, Troy Davis knew that he wanted to own his own business. He wanted to share knowledge and techniques with other hair stylists and provide a place for designers to go to work and creatively express themselves—whatever that expression may be.

Davis went to work for Carol Cole, owner and founder of Fringes Salon, after graduating. “I fell in love with Carol, quickly becoming good friends with her,” he says. “She has always been a great role model and mentor, both in business and in life.”

At the time that Davis began his employment with Fringes, Cole was managing two locations. Within a couple of months, she chose to close the location where Davis worked, asking him if he would move to the West Omaha location. He did, but he wasn’t sure how long he would stay, as he loved the environment in Downtown and Midtown Omaha more. But after four years, Davis and Cole partnered and opened Fringes in the Old Market, now EDGEWORTHY a Fringes Salon and Spa. “I was 24 [with] nothing else to my name besides my car…I went in with very little, starting the business from ‘nothing’ to build it to what we have become today. I remember going that first year with no income, and it [was] one of the most creative and happiest years of my life.”04 August 2012- Trish and John Gawley's wedding.

Our salon is like an art studio, and the people who work there are artists, in Davis’ opinion. “We’re all very creative individuals working together for the good of the team.”

He also believes that the salon and spa is unique because of the educated atmosphere. “We are the only salon that has ongoing, weekly classes for our designers,” he says. “Clients like knowing that we are up-to-date on the newest styles, techniques, and products available to us.” As for the design team, Davis says they’re very diverse. “We have stylists who speak different languages and come from different cultures of all ages and genders, which means that our guests are just as diverse. We hear people tell us a lot how comfortable they are in our salon [because] it’s not a stuffy or pretentious environment—its an EDGEWORTHY experience.”

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One of the most interesting lessons Davis has learned being in business is the distinction of ownership. “An owner is generative, not reactive. They are creative, always looking for ways to improve their business for both customers and employees. They are ultimately responsible for everything.”

Davis says that his goal with Fringes is just to make a difference in the days, lives, and careers of the people that he touches. “[It’s] what shoots me out of bed in the morning. It’s what has me work long hours day after day. It’s what gives me my energy and the edge to keep going.”

Edgeworthy – A Fringes Salon
Old Market
518 S. 10th St.
402-345-0404
fringessalon.com

The Troy Davis Story

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Leading Omaha hairdresser Troy Davis long ago showed an educational and entrepreneurial knack for his craft and for building the Edgeworthy brand at Fringes Salon & Spa in the Old Market. Now that his mentor and longtime business partner, Fringes founder Carol Cole, has sold her interest in the location, he has a new partner and a new focus on managing costs. The result is record profitability.

“Fringes of the Old Market is the busiest and healthiest it’s ever been,” says Davis, who’s made Fringes an Omaha Fashion Week fixture.

“Troy and Fringes have been a very important part of Omaha Fashion Week, as they style many of our veteran designers and constantly impress with their ability to interpret the latest hair and makeup trends on our runway,” says OFW producer Brook Hudson.

Davis is glad to share in the success. He’s lately seen members of the Fringes team represent well in a recent competition and awards show. Never content to stay put, his Clear Salon Services business is a new generation, grassroots distributorship for independent hair-care brands.20121130_bs_6230 copy

These professional triumphs have been happening as Davis addresses personal problems that “came to a head” last August but that have their roots in the past. Growing up in Blair, Neb., he began drinking and using drugs to mask the sexual identity issues he confronted as a gay teen in an environment devoid of alternative lifestyles.

“I felt so completely isolated. I lived in fear so badly that I hid it with drinking and weed,” he says.

A healthier form of self-expression he excelled in, speech and drama, seemed a likely direction to pursue out of high school. But first he moved to Omaha to experience the diversity he craved back home. He briefly attended Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, even landing the lead in the school’s fall production, before dropping out to attend beauty school in Omaha.

From their first meeting, Davis and Cole knew they’d found a new best friend they could grow in their chosen field alongside. She says she immediately responded to his “passion and energy and drive,” adding, “Troy Davis has definitely made me a better person and stylist and leader.”

Within four years, he’d proven to be such a trusted asset that Cole partnered with him in opening the Old Market shop.

“I’ve always been a very honest and open person. I’ve actually shared publicly via Facebook some of my bottoms and what I’ve learned.”

“He earned that,” she says. “He just really wanted to be downtown. His heart was there. I finally said, ‘Look, if you want to be a partner, I’ll do it, but you’re going to have to step it up and find a location.’ And he did. I have to give him a lot of credit because he put a lot of grunt work into it to get it started.”

The rest is history, as Fringes became a presence in the Old Market for its ultra-contemporary, urban styles and high-end hair care and beauty services. Cole let him run things there so she could concentrate on Fringes’ West Dodge site.

For Davis, Cole’s been more than just a business partner.

“Carol and I are so close. We just absolutely click,” he says. “She’s a very intelligent, very professional business woman. There’s not a lot of partnerships that make it. In a lot of ways, our relationship is like a marriage, only platonic. I think it’s healthier or better than most marriages I know of. We are able to communicate in a way that most people are not. We can say anything to each other, and even if it’s something that ends up hurting each other, we know that’s not our intention. Usually, it’s one of us misunderstanding something, and we’re always able to go back and clean it up.”20121130_bs_6095 copy

Davis has moved fast within the industry. While still in his 20s, he became one of 10 international creative team members for Rusk, a role that saw him flown all over the world to teach other hairdressers the use of the international distributor’s haircare products. He worked in the Omaha salon during the week and jetted around on weekends. It gave him the stage, the lights, the theatrics he felt called to. It also meant lots of money and partying.

All the while, his addictions progressed.

He was prepping for the always-stressful Omaha Fashion Week last summer when he and his life partner split for good. Amidst the breakup, the all-nighters, running his businesses, and leading an online advocacy campaign for a Fringes team that showed well in the national Battle of the Strands competition, Davis crashed.

“By the time I hit bottom, I was drinking every day and drinking to black out three days a week and, you know, it just had to end. I finally realized I am an alcoholic. It was a real wake-up call.”

He’s now actively working a 12-step program. “It’s definitely helped me get sober. I definitely thank my Higher Power for the strength I’ve had to get where I am today.”

He’s not shy sharing his ups and downs. “I’ve always been a very honest and open person. I’ve actually shared publicly via Facebook some of my bottoms and what I’ve learned in my treatment. In order to achieve something you need support in your life, and there is a connection through Facebook with family and friends that I think is very useful. I see it as an opportunity to share with them what I’m going through and the choices I’m making for myself.”20121130_bs_6028 copy

He calls his 12-step group “a new addition to my family,” adding, “They’re great people.” Like many addicts, he’s replaced his former addictions for a couple new, blessedly benign ones—Twitter and tattoos.

As his recovery’s progressed, he’s grown in other ways, too, including taking charge of his Fringes store’s finances. “It’s absolutely the best thing that could have happened for this business. It’s given me a whole new level of accountability. I see things more clearly and because of that, we’ve broken through a plateau we were never able to get past.”

He credits new business partner Sarah Pithan, a former assistant, for helping increase business by more than $4,000 a week. He also credits the “amazing team” he and Pithan have cultivated, including Omar Rodriguez, Kristina Lee, and Teresa Chaffin, for taking Fringes and Clear Salon Services to new levels.

For more information about Fringes Salon & Spa, visit www.fringessalon.com.

Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at leoadambiga.wordpress.com.

Mikala Vandenbroucke

November 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Mikala Vandenbroucke, 28, grew up the oldest of three children in Gretna, Neb. Although she originally attended Northwest Missouri State for three years with a desire to become a nurse, she transferred to Cosmetology at Xenon International Academy in Omaha after being encouraged to make the switch by her parents and a friend who was a hairdresser.

“My parents knew since I was a child that [being a stylist] was what I was going to do,” she says. “I used to cut and color all of my Barbie dolls’ hair and was constantly playing dress-up in all kinds of outfits and playing with makeup.”

Vandenbroucke has been a licensed stylist for a little over five years and with Mod Studio Salon for about a year and a half. Her specialties are cuts, colors, and makeup, and she has a very diverse clientele ranging from women wanting short pixie cuts to long, layering shapes. “The majority of my clients are women, whom I find to be dynamic and independent, so I find inspiration from them and really enjoy our time spent together in the salon.”

 “Standing out in a group is not a bad thing for me!”

Through the course of her styling journey, Vandenbroucke has taught classes and worked trade shows for Rusk (whose products she currently represents), worked New York Fashion Week for the Nolcha group with Rusk, and worked with local clothing designer Eliana Smith for Omaha Fashion Week. “Lately, I’ve been shifting focus toward editorial styling…[In November] I had a four-page spread of work that I’d done with local talents in a salon industry publication that reaches over 100 countries,” she adds.

Vandenbroucke describes her own personal style as unique, colorful, edgy, and sexy. “I enjoy looking and dressing differently than my peers. Standing out in a group is not a bad thing for me!” She likes to wear her hair short and dark at the moment, but it often changes. Her makeup, however, stays very clean and fresh—but Vandenbroucke has been known to rock blue and green eyeshadow from time to time.

Her favorite styling products and tools include:

  • Naked 2 palette and Primer Potion from Urban Decay—“I take these two items with me everywhere, to every shoot and for every makeup application. The primer keeps your eyeshadow in place all day long with no creases, and the colors in that palette are versatile and also very beautiful.”
  • Volare V1 Blow Dryer from BaByliss Pro—“This thing is incredible! It’s an amazing blow dryer that I use on a daily basis in the salon and dries hair with an airflow of about 78mph…It’s like having a hurricane in your hand!”