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Shear fun: Women open salon in St. Paul Park

The new Hairitage Beauty Salon in St. Paul Park is run by (from left) Ashley Grzeskowiak, Karyn Wincentsen and Kerri Koch. They are pictured in the mirror at one of their stylist stations. Bulletin photo by Scott Wente

Challenging life experiences prompted a new professional challenge for Karyn Wincentsen and Kerri Koch.

The two one-time coworkers became friends and later business partners, recently opening their own full-service salon in St. Paul Park. They started taking clients at their Hairitage Beauty Salon last month.

"We wanted to make our own money," Wincentsen said of the decision to start a business.

Neither woman thought seriously about running a salon before the fall of 2009. Wincentsen had been a stylist for a few years. She met Koch while working at B & G Hair Co. in Cottage Grove, where Koch had spent roughly 17 years. In October 2009, Wincentsen checked herself into treatment for alcoholism, with Koch's urging and support, marking a turning point in Wincentsen's life.

A month later, Koch faced her own personal challenges with the loss of her mother.

The women said those experiences - battling alcoholism and losing a loved one - left them wanting to make a professional change. They talked for months and eventually decided to open their own salon.

"There were just all these signs that we should do it," Wincentsen said.

"It was the impetus to do something different," Koch added of the life changes.

Addressing her alcoholism was a vital step in making a successful career transition, Wincentsen said. She said she is now 18 months sober and "putting all of my energy into positive things."

"I would not have this if I didn't have my sobriety," Wincentsen said. "I wouldn't have been reliable if I wasn't sober."

While Wincentsen and Koch are business partners, they consider Koch's niece, Ashley Grzeskowiak, the salon's third partner. Each woman brought something different to the business venture. Wincentsen is adventurous and gregarious. Koch is more adverse to risk but brought organizational skills that are important when running a business. Grzeskowiak is responsible for much of the "behind the scenes" work, Wincentsen said, including planning the salon's interior design and designing its menu of services and the sign in the window at 465 Broadway Ave., Suite 100.

The women said they spent long hours preparing the salon earlier this year while working full time. In the process they turned a ho-hum office suite into a chic salon that Grzeskowiak described as "clean, sleek and modern." They saved money by purchasing furniture and accessories from Ikea, and did some of the work themselves.

All of the hard work paid off, they said.

"It's fun again," Koch said of being a stylist.

"Our creativity has come out," Wincentsen said.

All three women are Park High School graduates. Koch said many of their clients want to help out a locally owned business.

"We've been finding that a lot," she said of small-town support.

The women offer a variety of salon services, from hair cuts to styling and permanents. They also offer waxing, hair treatments, permanent make-up and hair extensions.

They plan to celebrate their new business with a grand opening event Saturday, April 30. The event will run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will feature food, drinks, samples and discounted services.

For details, call (651) 756-8143.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

(651) 459-7600