By Matthew Hacke | Photographs from Helanny Photography/Natalya Moya, Leeann Marie Photography

Located in a small, white house off of I-79 in Bridgeville, Luxe Hair Salon has been a staple in the community of roughly 5,000 residents for the last three years. Opened in June 2014, Luxe Hair Salon’s motto is simple, yet powerful: “Bringing out your inner beauty.” Luxe Hair Salon founder and advanced master stylist Tamara Artnak has strived to live up to this motto for her 20-plus-year career in the hairstyling industry. For this South Hills native and mother of five, owning her business and making sure her clientele enjoy the haircare experience have always been top priorities. “I’ve been in the industry since I was 16,” says Artnak, who studied at Steel Center for CTE. “So, making people feel great about their style and the way they look has always been a passion of mine.” We recently spoke with Artnak about her experiences in the business and her future plans for Luxe.

How did you get into this industry?

Since I was a very young girl, I’ve always loved the beauty industry. I loved doing hair and nails. I am a cosmetologist as well, so I’m licensed to do everything. My main specialty is hair though. That’s my main love. By the age of 18, I started working in a salon in McMurray, and I worked there for 24 years before I opened Luxe.

When did the idea for opening Luxe come about?

In 2009, I became a Sabika Jewelry consultant, which really got me interested in starting my own business. It’s where I honed in on a lot of skills that would help me later on when I decided to open Luxe. I always had a strong desire to open my own salon. I’m a Christian and a firm believer that God has a plan for us all. The Lord put it on my heart to open up Luxe.

I began to formulate a better plan and idea of the salon once I enrolled in classes down at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Duquesne University. They gave me a great consultant to work on the business plan with. It was brutal writing that business plan [laughs]. I met with this guy every week and was always re-writing it until it was perfect. The process of planning the business really shaped everything I knew I had to do to get the salon started. That program was one of the best things I have ever done because it’s filled with Pittsburgh entrepreneurs. So, by November 2013, I got the entity approved for Luxe Hair Salon.

What are some of the services you offer?

Right now at Luxe, we have four master stylists, an esthetician, and a makeup and lash extension artist. We’re a boutique-style salon that caters not only to women, but men and children! It’s interesting because we have a ton of male clients. We have a ‘man club’ here at Luxe [laughs]! We’re trained in all of the latest barber techniques with the famed TIGI Advanced Hairdressing Academy based
in New York City.

Having trained under the top artists, such as Fabrice Gili for Jacques Dessange in New York, I learned French hairstyling and balayage. Balayage has just started to take off in our area, and luckily, I’m ahead of the trend, having trained 16 years ago. Balayage is a French highlighting technique and it means ‘to sweep the hair.’ This also sets us apart as a salon in the Pittsburgh area because very few, if any, provide this service. In addition to lash extensions and airbrush makeup, we also specialize in thickening and lengthening of hair. A lot of people think hair extensions are just for length, but we have a lot of clients who, once they’re over the age of 40, begin to lose their hair. Lastly, we use DMK skincare products for our spa where we do facials and quick peels. We’re very advanced in skincare. Not too many places are using the DMK skincare products in Pittsburgh yet.

How is the Luxe Hair Salon experience different from other salon experiences?

For our customers, we go above and beyond to make them feel good and have an enjoyable Luxe experience. So, what sets us apart on that side are the events we host, the travel that we do, and the local and destination bridal ceremonies we work on. We travel to you with whatever your special event is or your needs entail. We bring everything to you, which is extremely popular right now. For example, just this past April I traveled to Charleston, S.C., with Luxe makeup artist [Bette Cunningham] to assist a bride on her special day.

I love the fact that you also make it a priority to give back to women-owned local businesses. What drives that motivation?

I’m all about bringing the women of Pittsburgh together, especially women who own small businesses. From day one of opening the doors to Luxe, we’ve had events and I bring in vendors, small businesses, style trucks, makeup representatives, and jewelry representatives from all over the region. I’m all about helping women and working with other people in our community in order to network and help each other’s businesses grow.

In fact, this past September, I planned and organized a promotional bridal shoot, along with Carolyn Klasnick-Brooks of Post Script Productions, that used all local women business owners and vendors. The goal was to promote and help all of these other women businesses. So, instead of us handing bridal clients ideas that we find from Pinterest, we can show them this and say, ’Oh, here’s some of our work and here’s the work of other vendors you might be interested in.’

What’s in store for Luxe going forward?

What started as a little dream in my heart has really grown to be so much more than I ever expected. I’m very passionate about our industry and helping young hairdressers coming out of school, so I will continue to be instrumental on that end. Ultimately, though, I’m set on focusing on the overall salon experience because it’s not just about the quality of work clients are getting, it’s about the experience they have. From the moment they walk through that door, until the time they leave, I just want them to enjoy the experience and leave feeling great.

Luxe Hair Salon, 1365 Washington Pike, Bridgeville. 412.220.6080.

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