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On the Flip side

North Liberty salon has new owner, new look, and some new stylists
Aubrey Holsinger became the new owner of Flip Salon and Spa in North Liberty, at 350 Beaver Kreek Centre, on May 1, 2015. (photo by Lori Lindner)

NORTH LIBERTY– Aubrey Holsinger has a vision of beauty.
She also has short-term and long-term goals, an optimistic attitude and a lot of energy– all traits she has put to use in re-imagining Flip Salon and Spa in North Liberty.
Located in Beaver Kreek since 2002, Flip Salon has been treating customers to hair makeovers, massages and manicures for quite some time. Holsinger bought the business almost one year ago, just seven weeks before she was due to give birth to her first child.
Since then, she has been reinventing the well-established salon and spa under her own aspirations for what she wants Flip to be.
Holsinger’s interest in making people feel good about themselves goes all the way back to her grade school days, when she would style her mom’s hair for fun. Her education and training comes from a number of post-secondary school settings, including University of Northern Iowa, the Aveda Institute in Minnesota, barber school in Waterloo and esthetician school at LaJames Cosmetology. Her accolades include working on set for CNN, doing hair and airbrush makeup for commercials and special events, with her work published in People, First for Women, Woman’s Day and Redbook magazines. She learned early in her career that she had an entrepreneurial spirit, branching out to own her own business even before she built a client base in someone else’s salon, the more typical career path for cosmetologists.
“I put flyers on cars, I wore T-shirts that said ‘I fix $5 haircuts,’ I gave away free shoulder rubs and sample packs of products just to get clients,” said Holsinger. “But the most important thing was I built a lot of great relationships and gained a lot of mentors I still work with.”
Holsinger also gradually built a client base and has been self-employed for more than 10 years now. While she really loved her former location, she also dreamed of expanding her business and challenging herself.
“I am super competitive, and I love to be on the edge of knowledge, love the science behind it,” she said. “And I love making people feel good; that’s the best part of our jobs. Whether it’s weddings or other special occasions, being part of peoples’ lives makes it all worth it.”
But working in any career is “not always roses,” she said, so her top priority was to make sure Flip Salon was a place that exudes positivity, inclusivity and good energy.
Cosmetic changes to the salon’s interior were first on her list, so the walls were repainted in cool shades of blues and grays. Wall décor focuses on hairstyles instead of hominess and a new set of illuminated shelves highlights just one of the eight different product lines available– everything from Arbonne to Pureology, Davines to Oribe.
“I also do barbering, so I wanted men to come in and feel comfortable when they are here. It’s more unisex, not as feminine,” she said. “I wanted to simplify the atmosphere and make it more about the girls and the products, and having a certain vibe.”
The tone she sought wasn’t just to uplift clients or customers who walk in the door, but also for the seven other stylists who spend so much of their time there. It was important, therefore, to create an ambiance both visually pleasing and supportive in nature.
“My goals for the girls were to have a little more unity in the way we look,” said Holsinger– all of her current stylists are females–“expanding our skills, accepting people for where they are and finding solutions to problems instead of confrontation.”
Those who work in her salon are actually independent stylists, which she feels adds to the breadth of services Flip has to offer.
“Since they are independent stylists, we offer independent services, a variety of product lines and we all are individuals. We work really well as a team, so I’m not the boss lady who says when they have to be here,” Holsinger said.
Stylist Shannon Tobin, who came to Flip last fall, agreed that bringing together a collection of professionals with different experiences enhances the salon’s ability to serve a wide range of clients.
“The best part is everyone are individual stylists and business owners, so we all have creative ideas and different ways to accomplish them,” said Tobin. “We’ve had different training and that helps to learn from one another, whereas as if you work at a salon where you have all the same training, you don’t always gain other points of view.”
Gaining perspective is important to Holsinger, as well. Inspired by a long-time steady client who passed away from breast cancer, she created a “vision board” in the salon’s break room to share positive messages and celebrate each other’s accomplishments and inspirations.
“My longest client was a woman I saw every four weeks for 10 years,” said Holsginer, “and she said, ‘be unnecessarily kind to everyone, no matter what.’ It sparked a change in me and I want my girls to remember that; to greet each person with extreme kindness.”
In addition to warm greetings and sincere concern for their clients, Flip’s stylists and beauty experts offer a full range of salon services– everything from haircuts, up-do’s and coloring to waxing and keratin treatments, manicures and pedicures, perming and relaxing. Manual spray tans and hair extensions are also part of the milieu.
“We have tons of people who do vibrant, trendy colors or edgy shaves all the way to …well, everything. You name it.,” said Holsinger. “You can’t really put us in a category; we have clients with tattoos and beards and motorcycles and we have moms who drive minivans, young people getting married, high school girls going to prom– everybody can find someone here to help them.”
And Tobin said Flip clients are accommodated in ways that make them feel not just attractive, but also comfortable.
“It’s an upbeat atmosphere with a kind of spa-type feel that you wouldn’t necessarily get in an in-and-out salon,” said Tobin. “You can come in and get a quick cut, or sit with your stylist for a couple hours and get a complete change. It’s kind of a contemporary atmosphere, mixed with that spa feel.”
That’s just the right mix for the growing community, Holsinger said. She has been working on ways to partner with other businesses, particularly in Beaver Kreek Plaza, to attract more people to North Liberty’s east-side commercial area.
“I’m so excited about the high school coming in, because the area will have more potential for traffic. We have the coolest neighborhoods here, and new people coming to the area all the time,” said Holsinger, sporting her perennial optimism and a bright smile. “I think our opportunities are limitless, really.”