Kristin Altergott fell in love with Downtown Camas when she moved back to Washington state after living in Southern California. More specifically, she said she fell in love with the people of downtown.
The owner of the Salon Onyx, a hair salon now celebrating 10 years downtown, Kristin said it was the strength of Camas folks and her relationships that prompted her to invest and locate her business here.
“I had moved back to Washington after living in San Diego while my husband was in the military, and Camas was the place where I could practice my art while serving my community.”
As a young woman out of school, Kristin said she felt the desire to be in a profession that would capture her many passions and at the same time positively impact others. “I wanted a career that would give me many avenues to grow and the freedom to shape my professional career depending on where I was in life. Being a military wife at that time, I wanted to make sure I was able to continue my passion no matter where we moved to. The hair industry checked all those boxes and fulfilled my inner purpose to serve, while being a confidant to those who are wanting someone with them on their journey.”
There were challenges to starting her own business, to be sure. “I started Salon Onyx from scratch in 2010. I had little to no experience in business and only gave myself six weeks from signing my lease to opening our doors,” she said.
The building she chose for her space, at 416 NE Cedar Street, is historical, which brought on many “unforeseen challenges” for her, as it needed quite a bit of interior updating. It certainly wasn’t set up for a salon. Yet, Salon Onyx has embraced and incorporated that history into the business, and that includes the original vault from the historic Camas Bank as the salon’s washroom. The vault door stands intact welcoming guests to a relaxing, sensorial experience. Kristin said the vault door and many other historic attributes adds to the charm of the historic downtown Camas location.
“I met all those challenges with the spirit of an entrepreneur, incredible family and friends’ support, and my desire to learn and grow,” Kristin said. “These challenges were great practice in becoming a business owner. To me, being a business owner means having a positive attitude, being a leader in a project that impacts a community, stepping into something new without hesitation to fail time and time again. All this created a strength in me to overcome whatever came my way.”
Like the time a wayward car came her way. “Who knew that five years in, a car would drive through my business causing us to find a temporary location for six months! But I guess that’s all part of owning a business.”
Her focus has always been the customers. “The guests who come into Onyx all have incredible passion and purpose to positively impact our world on a large scale,” she said.
In her day-to-day interaction, Kristin said she finds that consistency and communication is the heart of her business. “Having your hair done is an intimate experience. The trust that is built between stylist and our guests takes time to develop. From consultation to the end result, communication is key.”
The same could be said of visitors and tourists, and their importance to her business. “Visitors and tourists create another unique way we can serve our community. Although we are mainly an appointment based salon, we welcome the opportunity to serve guests through last-minute services and have personal grooming items readily available for purchase.”
She noted that the hair and beauty industry in general has grown quickly the past two decades. As the at-home beauty care grew during the last recession, the need for technical skill, relationships, and customer service became even more important for the beauty professional.
“It has called our industry to serve our clients in person and online. We can now reach individuals all over the world now instead of within our own zip code. From how-to videos, to zoom consults, these next few years will expand the once only hands-on industry to specializing in the online touch,” Kristin said.
She stays on top of trends and services as well. “My absolute favorite service I offer to my guests is the part in between the technical aspect of doing hair and the final grand reveal. The time when someone is right in the middle of their experience. Bringing my guest into “The Vault” for their hair cleansing, that brings an individual into a relaxed state while the aroma of the shampoos and treatments fill the air. While a hair treatment is healing the ends of the hair, I proceed to wake up the hair follicles and help to release tension with a relaxing scalp treatment which includes a scalp and neck massage. The amount of energy released during this treatment and positivity replaced rejuvenates the mind and soul!”
You can find that heart and soul with Kristin at Salon Onyx at 416 NE Cedar Street in Downtown Camas or call for an appointment today, (360) 227-7900,