Tag Archives: stylist

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Before opening last summer, Stukenholtz and Ward—along with their husbands and friends—spent two months removing outdated fixtures and décor dating back to the ’80s and ’90s to modernize the salon.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

Big Names in Fashion Who Are Over 60

August 26, 2013 by
Photography by Jim Scholz

When we think of fashion, we think of designs for the young and beautiful.

However, when we hear the names of big designers, fashion editors, and stylists, we don’t think about how old they are! The reason for that is because they are, in a way, ageless. The word fashion means “of the times,” and people in fashion are of the times. Their hair may gray and their bodies might get sloppy, but fashion designers, directors, editors, stylists, and all of the creators involved tune into the times and project to the future. The older they get, the more they know, and the better they are. They work hard and very long hours. Travel for many may seem glamorous, but it’s often grueling.

Here are some of fashion’s biggest names, all still working and 60-plus years old:

  • Giorgio Armani brought his signature Italian style of menswear to America in the ’70s. Today he oversees the design of not only his menswear collections but also collections for women, the home, hotels, and more.
  • Christian Lacroix delighted fashionistas with his couture masterpieces in the ’80s and ’90s and just created a museum collection for Schiaparelli.
  • Vera Wang is busier than ever in a world of design far beyond bridal now.
  • Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, is the woman every designer wants to impress. Also at Vogue is Grace Coddington, who went from a ’60s and ’70s top model to a visionary as creative director of the magazine today.
  • Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani is almost 64.
  • Suzy Menkes, the most famous fashion reporter and journalist in the world, is almost 70.
  • Photo journalist Bill Cunningham is 84.
  • Donna Karan and Calvin Klein, both designers, are still active today and have expanded their empires beyond their dreams, I am sure.
  • Tim Gunn, the guy from Project Runway and Parson’s School of Design, is “The Word” to young designers. What he says is respected and taken as the best critique.
  • The Latin lady and gentleman of sophisticated American style, both years beyond 60, are Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta.
  • Diane von Fürstenberg, famous for the wrap dress in the ’70s, has a fashion business today bigger than ever.
  • Ralph Lauren, a man with an eye for class and timeless elegance, is still at work after brain tumor surgery.
  • Tommy Hilfiger hasn’t let age stop him. His business expands every season.
  • Karl Lagerfeld, the designer at Chanel and Fendi and for his own collections, turned 80 this year.
  • Valentino Garavani claims to have made an exit from his world of couture, but all say that, at 81, he remains involved.
  • Max Azria is the man responsible for all the fun, young, and adorable BCBG collections, and he’s 64.
  • Betsey Johnson, 71, and Vivienne Westwood, 72, are still creating edgy, fun, and rock-star-wild designs.
  • Norma Kamali, who made high fashion of sweatpants and shirts in the ’80s, is still designing fabulous swimwear and sexy, signature dresses and sportswear.
  • Those beautiful Manolo Blahnik shoes we all love are designed by a man who is 71.
  • I adore the creative genius of Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler’s understanding of structure and construction.
  • I just looked through 83-year-old Sonia Rykiel’s fall collection. It’s wonderful, ageless, timeless, and personal, with qualities that speak of a designer who understands women.

I welcome your feedback and invite you to send questions to sixtyplus@omahapublications.com.

Mary Anne Vaccaro is a designer and image consultant to businesses and individuals. She designed clothes and products in Omaha and New York and ran a fashion advertising business in five states. She writes and speaks about image, fashion, art, and style. maryannevaccaro.com, invisibleapron.com

Design is My Therapy

August 19, 2013 by
Photography by John Gawley

The past few years have collectively been similar to stepping on a land mine. It felt like I had been torn to bits. I couldn’t see through the smoke. When it started to clear, I grabbed all my pieces and rebuilt.

Slowly, memories started to hurt less and life started moving forward. The memories are still there, but they are fading. The details aren’t quite as clear. They are slowly becoming more black and white. I hand-dyed each dress to make it appear as though the color is escaping, leaving only the black and white in the dresses. They are walking memories. They are beautiful and will always be a part of me.


Making them was a challenge, but I gladly accept those challenges. I tend to take on extra projects, both for fun and work. Recently, I made a dress that pays homage to Omaha, showing the city’s skyline looking westward. I am currently creating two very different lines for 2013, as well as a wedding dress for one of my former models.


For OFW, I have designed a very wearable collection of women’s clothing and a very avant-garde collection, including metal pieces as a base for my dresses. For the avant-garde show, I have partnered with Dan Richters to present Vessel, an other-worldly fashion experience. Dan and I both create our designs because they are part of who we are.The design comes through in whatever medium we are working with. Our collections have pushed our abilities. We do it because we love it. Vessel is decidedly darker than any of the other Omaha Fashion Week shows. Dan and I are transforming the entire atmosphere from the moment you enter until the end of the show to transport and take you beyond your standard fashion show experience.

Each of these shows displays my abilities and proves my versatility as a designer, which has become increasingly important to me. Keep following…who knows what will come next!

Omaha Fashion Week takes place August 19-24. Tickets range from $30-70; Saturday Finale VIP tables (for 10) can be reserved for $1,000. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit omahafashionweek.com.

For more information about Buf Reynolds’ collections, visit vesselofw.com or bufreynolds.com.

Throwing Shade

August 16, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“Everybody reads the same magazines and watches the same shows,” says Lindsay Duer-Robertson, a stylist at Matt Wayne Salon off of 49th and Dodge streets. “That ends ups with people looking a lot alike. Someone who sees that and wants to make a statement will try something different.”

That “statement” for you could be anything from a few blonde highlights to neon pink. But it’s perfectly okay if you don’t know yet where you land on that spectrum. Rebecca Forsyth, stylist at Bungalow/8, says that’s what consultation visits are for. And make sure to bring pictures of anything that’s caught your eye.

“I think there’s this myth that hairstylists don’t like photos,” Forsyth says. “A Pinterest board on a phone is super helpful.” Both Duer-Robertson and Forsyth agree with the oft-quoted hairstylists’ phrase: “My caramel is probably different than your caramel.”

Let’s say you’ve decided to go from brunette to hot pink. “You can do it in one visit, but that visit’s going to be six to eight hours long,” Duer-Robertson says. Best to have a goal in mind and break it up over a period of time. That’ll give your hair time to recover from the processing, which is pretty intense. The bleaching process has to break the melanin molecules in the hair and expose different pigments through several stages: brunette, red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, and finally a pale yellow. Only then is your hair ready to accept an unreal shade like ocean blue or pastel purple.

“I think there’s this myth that hairstylists don’t like photos.” – Rebecca Forsyth, stylist at Bungalow/8

“Be mindful, your hair will be really dry,” Duer-Robertson warns. She recommends a protein-based conditioner. “In that first week, put in a leave-in conditioner after every wash.” She personally touts the Damage Remedy and Dry Remedy lines from Aveda, especially the Color Conserve™ Daily Color Protect conditioner. “That’ll keep your color strong up to 30 days,” she says, though pastel shades still may not keep as long as a month.

Such conditioners are valuable, Duer-Robertson says, because the product seals hair cuticles down after being a little roughed up by a cleansing shampoo. Leave a conditioner on for at least 15 minutes (unless it’s a leave-in, of course), and then rinse it out with cool water to ensure the cuticle doesn’t reopen. Consider using a wide-tooth comb to lessen stress on your hair when it’s wet; once your hair is about 80 percent dry, feel free to take a brush to it for a blowout.

Forsyth says it’s the flatiron that’s the huge culprit for further damaging processed hair. The heat is higher and touches the hair for a longer period of time than a simple blow dryer. “If you can achieve a great look with a blow dryer and a brush, you’re in a great situation as far as damage,” Forsyth points out. “I love that more people are wearing their natural styles and textures.”

If you just can’t leave the hot tools alone, remember that the general rule is the less styling, the less shampooing, the better. “Try to find ways that you don’t have to mess with your hair as much,” Forsyth says. “For example, last night I curled my hair, so today I have the base for a really cool updo.” She personally shampoos only twice a week.

For high-maintenance color like neons, pastels, or reds, Forsyth agrees with Duer-Robertson that it’s essential to invest in good product. Some of her favorite products for maintaining perfect color are in Karasoft’s color protection line. “And anything with UV protection,” Forsyth adds. “We blame the shampoo and forget that we’re in the sun all the time. Bring back hats, not just for protecting our faces but also our hair.”

Style and Substance

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Nick Hudson first helped found Omaha Fashion Week (OFW) back in 2008, he says some people thought it was a bit of a joke. Six years later, no one’s laughing. During the first year, about 2,000 people attended the event to see creations by 12 designers; by the end of this year, 51 designers will have shown their work, with an estimated 8,000 people attending—and the event just keeps getting bigger and better.

Unlike fashion weeks in New York, London, and Paris, OFW isn’t just about all things sartorial. It serves as a platform for up-and-coming designers to learn about the fashion industry and introduce their creations to the public, all without having to pay a fee to participate. “A lot of designers come from wealthy backgrounds,” says Hudson. “[Making it in this industry] requires resources. The vast majority of our designers, though, come from limited means and challenging economic backgrounds. [With OFW], there’s no financial barrier.”

To this end, Hudson founded the Fashion Institute Midwest, a program that helps designers learn about all aspects of the fashion industry from developing their lines to getting them to the public. Designers apply online, specifying what they’d like to focus on and what they hope to get out of the program. Some want to enhance their opportunities for getting into top design schools; others hope to build their businesses.

Designer Joi Katskee upcycles items into new rock-n-roll pieces.

Designer Joi Katskee upcycles items into new rock-n-roll pieces.

Typically, 70-90 designers apply annually with 40-50 making the cut. The designers are all from the Midwest, coming from states like Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. Ages range from as young as 13 to those in their early 30s. A selection panel consisting of nine fashion industry experts interviews the applicants. “Mainly, people audition to be a part of the show,” Hudson explains. Brook Hudson (Nick’s wife), who manages OFW’s day-to-day operations, adds, “The cool thing about the interviews is that the panel doesn’t just decide. We give the designers feedback on how to sharpen their focus and ideas. It’s a conversation.”

From there, designers work with OFW’s team of volunteer mentors to learn about the fashion industry. They receive expert advice on subjects such as where to get fabric, how best to show off designs, and how to pitch and promote their lines. They also participate in workshops or roundtable discussions focusing on topics like doing consumer research and how to broaden their appeal for retail markets. This forms the core of the program. “What people don’t realize,” Hudson points out, “is that there is constant mentoring and support taking place throughout the year behind the scenes.”

Rick Carey and David Scott (“The Style Guys”), Omaha fashion stylists and hair and makeup legends who have worked at fashion shows in New York, Paris, and Miami and at international photo shoots, became involved as panelists and designer mentors this past February. “The mentoring program is amazing. We help the designers get their collections together so [they] look fantastic,” explains Carey. “As Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame says, our job is to help the designers ‘make it work.’”

Designer Elda Doamekpo’s Elle brand is inspired by the movement of water.

Designer Elda Doamekpo’s Elle brand is inspired by the movement of water.

Scott adds, “From those original sketches on a piece of paper, no one realizes where designers go from there. You have to find the perfect seamstress who can sew that perfect zipper or perfect hook, someone who knows how to work with a specific type of fabric. We’re very much into the total look.”

Another critical component is finding the perfect models to showcase the collections. Alyssa Dilts, director of Develop Model Management, does the casting calls for OFW and works with designers to select models. “I compile the list, and the designers have a week to select [their models],” says Dilts, who has done some professional modeling herself. “I then finagle the schedule for them to coordinate and make sure the models are available.”

Equally important are all the other volunteers who make OFW possible. “The public has no clue about what’s involved,” says Scott. “They really don’t realize how many people it takes to put it on.”

Designer Hollie Hanash designs upscale children’s clothes.

Designer Hollie Hanash designs upscale children’s clothes.

Indeed, volunteers do everything from setting up and tearing down the catwalks, marketing the event, distributing press passes and VIP bags, coordinating the action backstage, and greeting and seating guests. Makeup artists and hairstylists similarly volunteer their time and talent. “We’ve got a great community of people involved who all donate their time and expertise,” says Hudson. “It’s unheard of. It’s a huge part of why we’ve been able to grow so fast. That’s why we’re able to keep building…Because of the community.”

What’s new and exciting for OFW this August? The six-night event will take place downtown in the Capitol District (10th & Capitol streets area) in a 30,000-square-foot space composed of one tent flanked by two smaller ones and after-party courtyards featuring DJs and live bands. Designers/artists Dan Richters and Buf Reynolds are collaborating to create a large-scale art installation through which people will enter the event. “It’s the first time we’re doing it. We’re graduating to a different level,” notes Hudson.

Given all this, it’s no wonder that in just six years, OFW has emerged as one of the top fashion weeks in the Midwest, one that attracts experts and designers from around the country. “It’s more than an event,” Brook proudly points out. “We’re on the verge of creating a new industry for Omaha.

Omaha Fashion Week takes place August 19-24. Tickets range from $30-70; Saturday Finale VIP tables (for 10) can be reserved for $1,000. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit omahafashionweek.com.

OFW SCHEDULE

Monday 8/19: Children’s Wear
Tuesday 8/20: Avant-Garde
Wednesday 8/21: Ready To Wear
Thursday 8/22: Evening Wear
Friday 8/23: Men’s & Swimwear
Saturday 8/24: Grand Finale Gala

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.”

Mattie Knihal

January 25, 2013 by

Mattie Knihal, 30, says she always loved to play with hair when she was little. “I’ve known since I was 7 years old that I would do hair,” she says. “Whenever anyone came over to our house, they would get a ‘Mattie Hair-Do.’”

Knihal, the oldest of three children, was born and raised in Omaha. She graduated from Millard North High School in 2001 and immediately went to Capitol School of Hairstyling, from which she graduated in 2002. Shortly thereafter, she started with Gloss Salon & Day Spa where she has been for ten years.

During her time as a stylist, Knihal has become a Redken Certified Colorist, which means she has been recognized for her expertise and commitment in Redken hair color and hair care products. She has also been recognized in both the 2012 and 2013 Best of Omaha™ contests in the Hair Colorist category.

“I want clients to look at me and think, ‘She cares about her appearance, and I want her to make me look good.’”

She believes her clientele—which includes KETV’s Brandi Petersen—keep her on her toes. “[They] all like to look and feel their best when they leave my chair,” she says. “Some like to change up what we do every time to keep it new and exciting. Some like to stay with what works best for them.” She adds that she prefers to be upfront with her clientele and tell them what will and won’t work for them based on their face shape, lifestyle, and time they want to spend on their hair.

Knihal, who has two daughters, Emma and Elaina, with husband Ryan, describes her own personal style as clean and professional. “I want clients to look at me and think, ‘She cares about her appearance, and I want her to make me look good’…I’m simple in the fact that I think black is the best color. It goes with anything and looks great when paired with the right accessories.”

Her favorite styling products and tools include:

  • Redken’s Color Extend Shampoo and Conditioner—“The shampoo provides color retention and anti-fade protection while maximizing color vibrancy and strength. The conditioner allows for great detangling and smooth conditioning without weighing the hair down.”
  • Redken’s Guts 10 Volume Spray—“It lifts up the roots of your hair to provide all-over volume. It allows for a lasting flexible feel and look.”
  • Redken’s Align 12 Protective Strengthening Lotion—“It has anti-frizz technology and heat protection. It allows for a naturally straight look.”

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!”

Christi Clark

August 25, 2012 by
Photography by minorwhite studios

Not only does Omaha Magazine Style Shot Christi Clark, 44, look great, but she makes a living helping others look and feel great about themselves, too.

Clark is a colorist who worked in Los Angeles, Calif., for 17 years coloring the hair of the likes of celebrities, but her Omaha roots wooed her back home. She loves getting smiles from her job and boils down how people look to a simple statement: “What feels good looks good.”

She personally describes her fashion style as Bohemian, which she plays up through handbags, shoes, and antique-style jewelry. To keep her style fresh, Clark frequently visits LA for fashion fixes. If you can’t see LA influences at first, it becomes evident by her list of favorite stores not found in Nebraska, including H&M, Zaras, and Barney’s.

Her slim and healthy figure can be attributed to exercise and a diet of whole, unprocessed food. “I find that the body naturally heals itself through diet, which is why I tend to opt for real food,” she says.

Clark stays active through a variety of fun activities. In addition to normal gym outings, Clark goes wakeboarding, snowboarding, and rollerblading to name a few. She also partakes in holistic health approaches like body detoxing, chiropractic care, and consultations with Dr. Mao, Yahoo’s #1 natural health expert who practices Chinese medicine and acupuncture.

Just by looking at her trendy style, you’d be surprised at the time it takes Clark to pull together a look. “Give me 10 minutes to get ready,” she says.