There is nothing as effective as ingenuity, which is why a surefire way to success is, as the old saw goes, to build a better mousetrap. It’s the kind of thing that makes you say, “Why didn’t someone think of this before?”
This is where Fierce Hair & Make-Up Lounge comes in, operating since 2013 as a mobile beauty business that brings the salon straight to your door.
How did the idea originate? Seated in a coffee shop, nursing a cup of hot chocolate, owner-proprietor Julie Gartrell states, “It’s just a better way of providing the best customer service.”
She also recalls, “I had been working at the salon, and a lot of clients needed their hair done but for one reason or another weren’t able to come in. A lot of the salon clients wanted to come in but didn’t have babysitters.
“In actuality, I’ve been in the mobile beauty business all along,” Gartrell says. “I’ve just decided in the last few years to push it and market it. So, it was basically out of the necessity of my clientele — to bridge the gap.”
Fierce is meant to be quickly efficient to accommodate the busy professional who has but so much time during a lunch break or between appointments, yet still deliver quality service with skills honed by more than 20 years of experience. “Sometimes it may take a little longer if there are little ones. But usually I’m in and out in a half-hour. One thing I pride myself on is courteous, professional service. I like being able to service people and having it be convenient.”
Gartrell says that attitude goes a great way toward setting her business a cut above. She conducts her enterprise “with TLC. It’s not only about the dollars. It’s about that person being able to feel good.”
Recession or no recession, it’s a fact of life that Black women are going to take care of their appearance, which makes the beauty business reasonably economy-proof. “Yes,” Gartrell agrees with a hearty laugh. “I think that’s because we’re always trying to build ourselves up in a society that’s always mocked us for our hair being natural. Like I tell my clients, be happy to be nappy. It’s fun to have natural hair.”
She adds, “I work with all different hair types. There is a recession, but I think women, period, regardless of color, always want to look good.”
The Minneapolis native, proud to be a “born-and-raised Northsider,” started out very early, showing initiative to apply herself from the ground up with Creshendo Studio for Hair, which she eventually would come to own. She got in the door volunteering her time while still in high school the last two years before graduating from North High.
“I used to show up on Fridays to earn a free hair-do. Sweep the floor, serve lemonade to clients.” Later, pursuing her passion to do makeup, she went to cosmetology school at Aveda Institute. She graduated in 1993 and came on board Creshendo as the eyebrow specialist with an array of skills under her belt.
“When I was in school, I discovered that I really enjoyed and loved doing hair color. I was good at it, so far as formulating colors and so far as correcting other’s mistakes. That’s one of my specializations, too. I can do color in my sleep.”
She began by bartering with fellow Aveda students. In exchange for a bottle of soda, she’d put together a hair formula. “The teachers caught on, and at color class I would provide the key. Students would come up and ask me for what they wanted. I create the formula and give it to them. When I started working the salon, that became [a] specialty.
“I [also] specialize in healthy hair care that includes hair color, hair and eyelash extensions, and makeup and brow shaping.” She notes that she also serves seniors. And that, while her customer base is ladies of color, if you have a head of hair that needs tending, you are in good hands with Julie Gartrell.
“I also have a private salon.” For good measure, she hosts a quarterly bazaar, “Beauty on a Budget.” Not only operating under the premise “have dryer, will-travel,” it’s an operation that brings you the best for your money.
Fierce Hair & Make-Up, Gartrell emphasizes, brings full service — with a mobile team of as many as six, depending on what’s needed — provides the complete package of expert beauty you’d expect if you went to them.
Finishing off her hot chocolate, she states with a warm smile, “I’m taking appointments for the holidays, and I’ll offer 10 percent off the total service cost to those who mention this article.”
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.