Maddie Poteat Headshot

By: Maddie Poteat

Behind the scenes of owning a salon and spa

I would wager a healthy sum that the majority of you reading this blog post know what it’s like to sit in a salon chair.  However, I predict that the majority of you can only imagine what it’s like to actually own a salon and spa.  With more than 10 years in the business of running salons and spas, Darcy Michalek, the owner of Garbo’s Salon and Spa, lets us have a peek at the ins and outs of salon ownership and management.

Take us back...

More than fifteen years ago Darcy and her family found themselves in Omaha, Nebraska after having recently moved from Longmeadow, Massachusetts.  With an impressive resume filled with C-level leadership roles and a handful of different industries, Darcy found herself contemplating an interesting offer – the opportunity to purchase a salon.  Fast forward a few years, Darcy managed to take the purchase of Garbo’s Salon and Spa at the Oak View Mall and turn it into four successful locations that employ more than 140 talented people.

Now with four salons to her name, Darcy and her team of managers are busy making sure they’re providing best-in-class services to their clients and helping their stylists, makeup artists, nail technicians and estheticians learn and grow all while balancing all the other tasks of running a business.  It is in fact those other tasks that we, as the people in the chair and not behind it, tend to overlook or forget when we think of what it takes to own a salon.

Owning a Salon and Spa - Darcy Michalek

Why did you want to own a salon?

“After having worked for a handful of large companies I started looking for great business opportunities that would allow me to own my own business.  My desire to own my own company and my love for having my hair and nails done made idea of owning a salon and spa very appealing.”

To be clear, you don't do hair?

“Correct!  Most people think it’s strange when I tell them I am not a stylists but I think having the business background that I do benefits me.  To be a business woman first allows me to be more strategic in my day to day.  I can draw upon my past experiences and find new ways to apply what I have learned from them in this market.  However, I can’t stress enough how important it is to me that all of our managers are stylists themselves.  Having that knowledge really helps bridge the gap and pick up where I leave off.”

We can imagine running four salons is a lot of work - what does your day to day look like?

“I can’t say I have a typical day-to-day schedule but I try my best to complete all my administrative tasks and paperwork in the mornings and then schedule my meetings in each of the locations in the afternoons and evenings.  I’m constantly running supplies to each of the locations as well.  Somedays I’ll need to visit all four salons in one afternoon while others days its only two or three… With that being said, I try to take advantage of the time I have in my car when traveling to one salon or the other.  I utilize that time to check in with members of my team who I haven’t heard from in a while or to make other business related phone calls (all hands-free of course!).  

Since I do travel often between the salons, my team always teases me because most days it looks like I’m living out of my car!  I have boxes piled up in the trunk and the back seat, paperwork in the front seat and, if I’ve had time to stop for lunch that day, a takeout bag somewhere near me! 

Since our salons are open seven days a week I am typically also working seven days a week.  I want to be available to my team whenever I’m needed so they know they can call or text me at anytime.

Recently we have been doing more interviewing than normal.  Our guest services team is growing and we are always on the hunt for amazing team members so interviewing has become a day-to-day agenda item as well.  I personally love interviewing and do my best to be the first person from Garbo’s a potential team member meets.  It gives me a chance to really get to know the person before welcoming them into our family.”

Do you manage the salons yourself or do you have help?

“Thankfully, I have help!  Each salon has a Salon Manager who is also a behind the chair stylist.  In addition, each salon has an assistant manager or desk coordinator that manages the front of the house.  I am truly blessed to have such an amazing team and do my best to say thank you to them as much as possible.  Our readers should definitely know who they are: 

Village Pointe: Sherri Mahoney (Manager), Susie Knezovich (Assistant Manager, Head of Guest Relations), Crystal Millerd (Assistant Manager) 

Regency: Tom Sena (Manager), Juliana Montane (Assistant Manager, Head of Guest Relations)

Midtown: Audrey Reinhardt (Manager), Adam Podraza (Head of Guest Relations)

Oak View: Amber Meir (Manager), Melissa Losole (Assistant Manager), Ricki Rockwell (Head of Guest Relations)”

What is the biggest challenge you face as the owner of Garbo's Salon and Spa?

“The biggest challenge I face is staying personally connected to all of our team members.  As we’ve grown and added additional locations, it has become more and more difficult to spend quality time with everyone.  I don’t have time to hang and chat about the more personal things like I used to and I really wish I did.  We are now at 140 employees!  With so many amazing, talented people working for us it makes me cherish the time I have with each new person we add during the interview process.  I enjoy getting to know them on a personal level before they ever set foot in the salon.”

What is something our readers don't know about you?

“Hmmm… Before I became the owner of my first Garbo’s location I used to work for a division of Jones Wear in the fashion jewelry industry.  I worked in Sales, Marketing and Inventory control for more than 15 years – five years in Phoenix, five years in San Antonio and five years in New York City.  Once my kids were a little older we decided to move back to Nebraska so we could be closer to family.”

What about Garbo's Salon and Spa excites you most?

“I am most excited about the growth we have seen with the company and the opportunities that lie ahead.  Because our brand has grown so large I envision us leveraging our size and starting to have more of a national reach in many areas of our business.  Did you know we currently ship our Garbo’s Professional product all over the country?

I’m also excited about the opportunity to develop new products for different markets and creating new partnerships and collaborations with other business owners.  I personally love being a small business and love working with other small businesses as well.

I also love how personal our business is and how transformational it can be.  It always excites me that we have the opportunity to transform people’s lives on a daily basis.”

We hear there are some big and exciting things coming down the line for Garbo's this year - can you give us a little sneek peak?

“We have so many new things coming your way!  Last year around this time we launched our new social media accounts and I personally love what our team has created.  Looking forward to the rest of this year we are setting our sights on developing a few new products for a market we’ve never worked with before.

We are also working to partner with another local business in Omaha to bring new services to the salons.  We should be announcing that partnership soon!

Next month we will be introducing 12 new products to our Garbo’s Professional line and we are working to re-vamp our loyalty program.  We sent out a survey last month asking our clients where we can improve and that was one of the most asked for items.

Other than that we have two BIG announcements coming in 2020 but I am going to keep my lips sealed on those for the time being :)”

Ooo!  So much good stuff coming your way!!  To make sure you stay up to date on everything happening at Garbo’s please follow us on Instagram, Facebook and sign up for our newsletter!

We always love hearing from our owner, Darcy!  I was lucky enough to snag a few minutes while she drove from one salon to the other to get her thoughts on the questions above.  If you have other questions for Darcy regarding salon ownership or being an entrepreneur please let us know in the comments.  

Thanks as always for reading!

Sending love,


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Maddie Poteat Headshot

By: Maddie Poteat

Mikaela Kellogg

This month we shine the stylist spotlight on Omaha stylist Mikaela Kellogg.  Mikaela joined the Garbo’s family back in January and has been inspiring those around her at the Midtown Crossing location ever since.  Having grown up with a passion for art she decided to channel that love for creativity into a career as a hairstylist!

At Garbo’s we love how active Mikaela is on social media – constantly sharing photos of her work and her life, she does a brilliant job of capturing what it truly means to be a stylist at Garbo’s.  While we continue to share what life is like behind the scenes of a salon and spa this month, Mikaela pulls back the curtain on her life and career for us in her great interview below!

How long have you been a stylist at Garbo’s Salon and Spa and what made you want to work here?

“My career with Garbo’s started in January of 2019. Being a hairstylist is a dream come true! In this field, I have found myself starting lots of goals and pushing myself to be the best version of myself as I possibly can! This industry is always growing & changing. One thing that tremendously caught my attention about Garbo’s was the extra education they offer to stylists. It is so important to keep yourself updated with trends/styles, and also to keep learning! There are so many paths one can take, so finding your niche and pursuing that is important. Practice makes perfect! 

Additionally, I would add the atmosphere you feel is very inviting and welcoming! Every location treats its guests the same! Our guests are first and foremost, everything else can wait. We work as a team, always willing to lend a hand when needed. It makes a huge difference in working for a salon where people support one another! 

Furthermore, Garbo’s owner, Darcy Michalek, is one of the most genuine and caring people I have met! When I met her, I knew this was where I was meant to be. She is a strong leader: one who helps set realistic goals and make a concise plan on how you can meet them. Darcy always encourages us while also making us think hard about who we are, who we want to be, and how we want to get to where we want to go. 

Finally, I chose Garbo’s because it is a very social media-driven and forward-looking company! Of course, word of mouth is a great way to get your name out there; however, the time we are living in is all about social media!  Taking pictures is one of my favorite things. You get to choose that perfect angle & lighting to capture your work to share with the world! The internet is a great platform to showcase your work! We like to keep up with the trends here at Garbo’s, so we jumped on the social media bandwagon!”

Omaha Stylist Mikaela Kellogg in Arizona
Omaha Stylist Mikaela Kellogg working at Midtown Crossing

What is your favorite service to provide to your clients?

“Color & cuts – oh my!

One of my favorite things about color is YOU get to be the artist. You hold the most powerful wand! 😉 It can change an entire person’s look if you want!  From covering grey completely to blending grey with color or foils, giving someone a vibrant red, blue or even the rainbow! Guests who are lower maintenance but still want that summer glow; balayage is the perfect go-to. There are so many ways to do a balayage look, it is pretty freestyle! Full head foils are always a fun challenge to see how many foils I can get in, my running foil achievement is 114! 

Typically, when you get your hair colored or highlighted, there’s always a haircut thrown into the mix. From short hair to long – I love both Women’s and Men’s hair. My favorite is when a guest comes in and wants a drastic change; mostly because you can tell they are over what they have and want something new and different! I’m always down for a good challenge; however, I do like my girls that just want a trim! I see you!! 😉  Same with color, a good cut can change a person’s look! My end goal is to always give my guests what they want and make sure they leave happy and satisfied knowing I gave it my all! 

Who doesn’t like a good shampoo?! This is probably top of what I enjoy about pampering my guests! In the salon chair, while I am working on their hair we are either asking each other questions, getting to know one another or catching up from the last time we spoke about life, family, upcoming/past trips, etc.  So, I use this time at the shampoo bowl for my guests to relax.  At Garbo’s, we are all about pampering our clients so we use hot towels that we have spiced up with relaxing/cooling essential oils for extra neck support on your neck while at the shampoo bowl. After the shampoo, while I am letting the conditioner sit, I take this time to give a scalp & neck massage! The best response I can get is, “I’ll pay you extra for 10 more minutes of this!” or “I may take a little nap, this is great!” “

Why did you choose to be a hairstylist and why do you love it?

“Cosmetology did not cross my mind until after high school. Growing up drawing and painting, I was always using & challenging my artistic ability. Anyone will tell you, as a kid, my dream was to become an artist. Starting my art business in 2014 was the beginning of really dreaming about making art my career. Well, here I am today; using my artistic talent to create masterpieces out of hair! I don’t think there could have been a better field for myself. When it came to making the decision of art school or hair school, I knew overall that I wanted to be a positive impact on someone’s life & what better way than cosmetology?

Over the years, I have become quite the people person! My love and compassion for people are unreal! I used to get so frustrated by the fact that I would become so moved emotionally by others emotions or events in others’ lives. Now, I see it as a gift God has given me to better help love people. My goal with everyone who sits in my salon chair is to make them feel valued, seen and loved. That they feel beautiful, confident & worthy of feeling that way!! To live this life is a gift, to be able to positively impact another person’s life is a gift; a gift I am privileged to be given. 

The greatest joy is watching your client walk out of the salon happy & confident to tackle anything that comes their way!!”

Omaha Stylist Mikaela Kellogg working at Garbo's Salon and Spa, Midtown Crossing
Omaha Stylist Mikaela Kellogg

How does social media influence your business?

“Social media is a big part of what Garbo’s pursues in creating new high-quality content for our clients to be inspired by! I have grown up with a love to take photos & Instagram is my jam. It is a great platform to show your creativity, show your work and write about what you love. As much as word of mouth is wonderful, social media is growing and more and more people go to the web to search for hairstylists/salons near you. Also, when they research this, if you have an Instagram/Facebook handle with the right hashtags and your content is there, your page is more likely to be clicked on. There are so many ways to brand yourself and I am still figuring it out but this year I have decided to tackle building my very first website! 

As I have said, social media is quite popular these days, and the more outlets you have the better! My website is a place where people can go to see more of my work, watch how-to videos, see behind the scenes of a hairstylist’s life through personal encouraging blogs. There I can also share my favorite products I use in the salon.  If you are interested, you can find my website here:

Do you have any tips/tricks that you would like to share with other stylists who are just starting to build out their profiles?

“First, CONGRATS! You are in one of the best industries! You are also about to make a very great decision, building your brand!  No, I do not have it all together or figured out; but here is what I have learned.  You are you – share that with the world!  Share your work, your uniqueness and build your brand in a way that you choose & feel is right.  However, the algorithm game is harsh but you can override it. 😉 Instagram or Facebook (I would create a business account for both), these posts should be the highest quality you can get within your means. Quality over quantity.  In the IG world, they say to post once a day, which is not realistic, especially if you are busy in the salon! 

Cohesiveness on your page will make such a difference in what your page looks like.  If you use a little filter, always keep the same tone, warmer or cooler. The way photos flow on your page makes a huge difference. I have seen pages where they just post whatever whenever – that is not bad, but it looks more pleasing to the eye if you have some sort of organization.  For example, I will post 2 hair photos to 1 photo of me (where I’ll talk a little more one on one, a storyline) or 1 hair photo, 1 makeup photo to 1 photo of me; this way it is cohesive and flows! 

Your bio is very important! You have about 3 seconds to catch someone’s attention enough for them to hit that follow button!  This means, having an eye-catching trendy profile photo! If we want to attract someone in 3 seconds, it should say what you do, for example:

“Hairstylist in Omaha, NE. 

Expert colorist & balayage artist.

Spreading good vibes” 

Listed in a way that they can see where you live and what kind of hair you like to do! If you have a website or an online booking tool, add this to your profile as well! You can make it as interesting and unique as you want; just be yourself with it! 

Lastly, HASHTAGS! Woooooooo! These are my favorite, hashtags are how someone can very simply search “omahahairstylist” & find your page.  The trick is to do more local hashtags than broad ones like “hairstylist”, (which hairstylist might be good if you are going for more of an educator view rather than getting people into your salon chair).  Yes, it is great to have people find you from California or North Carolina, but if your goal with social media is to get people IN your chair than local tags are the way to go! 

I see a lot of hairstylists putting hashtags in the post. Remember when I was talking about making your page simple & cohesive? If you are scrolling through a business page and all you see is hashtags, it looks messy and tacky. So, still add the tags, just add them in the comments;  Ahhh, so much cleaner when the eye scrolls by! 

These are a lot of “you have to’s” but just a few simple things I have learned so far. Please remember to be yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you who you should be, you alone are enough. Have fun & be creative! 

What type of posts have you found work the best for finding and booking new clients on social media?

“I have found that taking good quality photos of our clients (before or after), then sending those photos over to our clients and asking them when they post to tag you & Garbo’s in the post works great! This is one of the best forms of advertisement on social media – straight from your guest’s page!  It gives you a chance to gain followers & eventually get them & their friends into your salon chair!”

We are taking our clients and readers behind the scenes this month - is there anything you would like the readers to know about you and your work that they may not?

“I was born in California but raised in Northeast Iowa and still not used to the cold winters! ;).  I traveled to Kigali, Rwanda & there is where I met the love of my life!  I fell in love with the country & one of their very own, very handsome men.”

Omaha Stylist Mikaela Kellogg with Boyfriend

Mikaela’s passion for her career is abundantly clear from the fantastic photos she shared with us.  It was a treat being able to interview someone who truly loves her job and loves sharing it with the world!

I highly recommend following Mikaela on Instagram – her page is full of inspiration!  If you would like to schedule an appointment with Mikaela you can find her at the Midtown Crossing location.  Click here to book online or book by calling the salon (402.933.9737).

Thank you so much to Mikaela for taking the time to share more about herself with us!  We enjoyed every minute!

Thanks as always for reading!

Sending love,