Beyond the Cut: Jessi Smith’s Journey with The Fringe Hair Studio

The Fringe Hair Studio, founded by Jessi Smith, is more than just a place to get a trim – it’s a testament to entrepreneurship, creativity, and inclusivity. Jessi’s journey into business ownership was a blend of opportunity and determination. Prompted by a mentor’s encouragement, she took a leap of faith and opened The Fringe, initially focusing on providing top-notch hair services such as clipper and scissors cuts, coloring, and facial waxing. However, her entrepreneurial spirit didn’t stop there. Drawing from her passion for custom vinyl creations, she integrated Smithfaced Designs into the salon’s offerings, adding a personalized touch to everything from T-shirts to etched glass.

Jessi’s path to The Fringe was paved with a lifelong love for hairstyling. From the age of seven, she found joy in curling her mother’s hair, and mastering techniques like French braiding. Her journey took an unexpected turn during the 90s Punky Colors phase, where she found her passion for vibrant, unconventional styles. In 2010, she finally obtained her license and began her career at a salon in her hometown. Under the guidance of a supportive team, she honed her skills and gained knowledge about techniques and products.

Pictured left to right: Sara Kakatsch, Jessi Smith and Christine Dennis
Salon station at The Fringe Hair Studio

What truly sets The Fringe apart from other salons is their approach to pricing. In contrast to traditional salons, there are no gendered pricing or services here. Jessi’s philosophy is simple: everyone deserves to feel valued and welcomed, regardless of their hairstyle preferences. This approach has resonated deeply with the community, fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance within the salon’s walls.

In the early stages of her business planning, Jessi sought support from local organizations like Progress Lakeshore. With their guidance, she laid the groundwork for success, tackling everything from financial projections to navigating the intricacies of entrepreneurship. Initially daunting, Jessi found that with her determination, even the most challenging tasks became manageable.

One of the most rewarding parts of Jessi’s journey has been seeing her team and community thrive. From starting out as a solo endeavor, The Fringe has grown into a thriving business in just the one year they have been open. Now, with multiple renters on board, it’s not just a place for hairstyling but a supportive space for local talent to flourish. It’s also about empowering others in Manitowoc to chase their dreams, just like Jessi did.

As The Fringe approaches its one-year anniversary, Jessi reflects on the milestones achieved thus far with pride. However, she remains focused on the future, embracing the journey of growth and evolution. Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is straightforward: take calculated risks, trust the process, and take every opportunity for growth.

Interested in learning more about The Fringe Hair Studio? Check out their website HERE


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