CEDAR FALLS — Forty-nine years ago, KJ & Kompany salon sharpened their shears for business in Waterloo. Now, the company continues to serve the Cedar Valley from their Cedar Falls location.
“(Customers) know they can walk in any time and get a great haircut or a great highlight,” said salon owner, Angie Lashbrook.
In 1970, Keith Blum opened the salon at Crossroads Mall in Waterloo as one of the first businesses to the mall.
Lashbrook started as a stylist for the company in 1997 and became co-owner in 2007.
Throughout those years, Lashbrook gained experience in the trade as well as management of the business.
Last June, Lashbrook became sole owner, at which point the planning for the salon’s relocation began. In March of this year, the salon picked up roots and moved to Cedar Falls.
“I thought the best thing for the company and all the employees was to have a fresh start somewhere else,” Lashbrook said.
The company celebrated its grand opening May 10 at their location on Viking Road.
Growing up, Lashbrook enjoyed styling friend’s hair as well as her own, but “never thought that would be a profession I’d be interested in.”
Today, Lashbrook employs 22 people and five independent contractors at the salon.
The contractors rent chairs in an area partitioned by glass walls. Lashbrook provides the space, but they work on their own time.
“They’re still very much a part of us,” Lashbrook said.
Housing independent contractors in a parallel work space is not typical for most salons, Lashbrook said, and the building has two entrances to accommodate clients.
“That allows us, when we close at 8 p.m. at night, we can lock our side of this glass door here, and the independent contractors can still continue to work any day or night.”
Lashbrook’s goal is to create a welcoming environment, and the salon offers a variety of beauty treatments.
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“We want to be servicing and offering what’s new out there to the beauty world,” Lashbrook said.
Several services provided are haircuts, waxing, manicures and pedicures and a recent addition of eyelash extensions.
KJ & Kompany is open seven days a week and the salon welcomes walk-in clients. Unscheduled drop-ins, however, can make it difficult when it comes to scheduling employees.
“We start our day with a certain amount of booked appointments,” Lashbrook said, “And by the end of the day, we usually double that amount of appointments from people either calling in or walking in.”
While weekdays can be busy, Lasbhrook said on certain Saturdays, anywhere from two to four wedding parties bustle around the shop. The salon provides wedding and prom packages for hair, manicures, pedicures and makeup. The parties sometimes bring breakfast and mimosas.
“It’s a really fun way to start our Saturday morning,” Lashbrook said. “It’s so positive and so much energy.”
Shopping local is essential to the success of small businesses.
“Otherwise you’re going to be outsourcing, traveling everywhere to purchase anything, and that does not make your community thrive and grow,” Lashbrook explained.
When the building was under construction, Lashbrook hired local companies from electricians to plumbers. “Everything was right here in Waterloo-Cedar Falls.”
However, the company orders hair products from Aveda in Minnesota and Bumble and bumble is shipped from New York, since those products have no local suppliers.
Offering the products for purchase allows clients to re-create the style they receive in the salon chair, something Lashbrook said is important for business.
“They are your walking advertisement and you want them to look just as good when they left the salon as when they do it themselves at home.”
In the back corner, a barber area was built along with the rest of the salon, but currently remains empty. Lashbrook hopes to hire licensed straight-razor barbers in the future.
“It’s super trendy with the younger guys.”