WATERLOO — When a client of hers told cosmetologist Kara Kressley she should check out a vacant downtown Waterloo location for a hair salon of her own, Kressley was dubious.
“I said no, no, no, I wasn’t ready,” Kressley said.
Kressley, who worked for nine years at KJ & Kompany, followed by stints at Kate’s on Main and Sharper Image, spent the last six years at her mother-in-law’s shop, Harriet’s Beauty Salon in downtown Waterloo, and loved it.
“I thought that was going to be my forever,” she said.
On a whim, she decided to check out 521 Lafayette St., and found a finished building complete with shampoo bowls. Plus, she had a second stylist lined up: her daughter, Wittney Mast, who graduated in September and was trying to find the right salon fit herself.
“We were like, ‘Let’s do this,’” Kressley said.
In January, the mother-daughter pair painted, furnished, decorated and opened K & W Salon, adding a third part-time stylist.
“(Mast) and I get along better at work than we ever did at home,” Kressley said.
The shop is near bustling East Fourth Street restaurants, downtown apartments and basically around the corner from Harriet’s.
“There’s just something about downtown and the people — you know the meter guy, the people next door, the people upstairs,” Kressley said. “I like that quaint feel, that closeness.”
“I grew up downtown,” Mast said, noting she went to dance classes on East Fourth Street years ago. “It’s comfortable for me.”
In June, the unused loft above K & W Salon became Ink Attic Tattoo, where Mast’s fiance, Jacob Charriez, and another artist work Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m.
“There’s not a lot of salon-tattoo shops,” Kressley said.
And some appreciate the convenience of both.
“I have a good five or 10 clients that say, ‘Oh, I should go do that today,’ and after their hair appointment they get a tattoo,” Kressley said.
Family working side by side — and above and below — seems to work great for the trio.
“It works,” Charriez said. “We all just poke fun at each other and have a good time.”
“I’d do anything for these guys,” Kressley said. “I’m just here to take care of them, make sure they have everything they need.”