Gemy opened Studio 39 on July 5th of 2001 in a loft space on 39th Street. Eight weeks later our nation experienced one of the worst tragedies in U.S. history on 9/11. Like the rest of the country, she was devastated. The future of all was suddenly uncertain. The nation quickly united in compassion and strength. This unique time of our past made her realize a single person has the power to either divide or unite,so she dedicated the salon to bringing people together. She focused on the present and the positive by drawing inspiration from the 39th Street community. In the early millennium the neighborhood was a collection of diverse shops and restaurants. It was the perfect place to establish a studio of artistic expression through style. Areas of specialty work were rare in the salon world, especially locally. Her unique way of cutting and color approach drew attention. She began working with assistants to serve her large clientele. She had a wait-list that stretched for months, but her assistants were developing into confident stylists. With the belief success can be taught and shared, the answer was logical. So the salon grew in loyal staff and client base alike, and those stylists eventually became mentors as well. Studio 39 became a Kansas City salon favorite. Soon after becoming one of top requested salons in the area. The team consists of a group of stylists chosen for personality. Studio 39 places equal importance on gracious hospitality and skill and talent. Over the years they have fund-raised for toy drives, shelters, oil spill clean up, wildlife rescue, after school programs, sponsored families in need, and volunteered at Children’s Mercy Hospital. Since September of 2001 they have offered a service discount to military, law enforcement and first responders.
Becoming a Signature Salon
With a focus on teamwork and education, the salon had a great start. In late 2008 a recession came that would impact small business. While many were downsizing or closing, Studio 39 was evolving. Leaving 39th street was not an easy choice, but future growth required a different space. She found a sleek gallery space in the emerging West Side/Crossroads area. She decided to keep the name to honor the salons beginning. After a brief maternity leave in the spring of 2010, she strapped her son in his baby sling to oversee the new construction. The time in the art gallery space would be the beginning of an era of unprecedented growth. After just two years another expansion was needed. This time she wanted a permanent salon home. The search for a space they could not outgrow began. That wasn’t easy in post recession downtown Kansas City because development had come to a halt. It took a year to find a 4,000 square foot warehouse in the historic Bottling District. When she saw the expansive sunlit space with original beam and truss architecture, it was love at first sight. Many thought she was taking a risk building a salon in a huge industrial space in a down market, but in late 2012 the largest of her salon project’s began. After three months of construction, in January 2013 the salon opened doors for a third time. The salon sits on the south edge of the Crossroads Arts District. Located at 26th and Broadway, Studio 39 is part Kansas City’s salon history. Inside you’ll see the eclectic style of 39th street with the colors of the art deco building of the gallery space. The combination of Studio 39’s past created the Zen inspired urban escape that has become the Studio 39 Brand. As growth continues beyond downtown KC, it serves as a flagship salon for future locations.The salon is opening an expansion studio in the Lakewood area in Spring 2019.
One reason the salon industry can be cyclical is because it is primarily a female work force. Even as society changes, women are often the glue to families and communities because by nature they are social multitaskers. I’ve had staff move, get married, have babies, and retire. Family is important to me and this is a business whose essence is about positive change. They are part of what made Studio 39 great.
I know what growing up a in a family business is like. Mine was in construction and real estate, so I didn’t think of the salon as a “family business”. In our staff we have sisters, cousins, and best friends, and it can be difficult for others outside of the industry to understand what salon life is like. We get each other. We spend a lot of time together in and out of the salon. We truly enjoy each other’s company! I think that’s rare in any workplace, maybe more so in a salon. The dynamics here are special because of the people who choose to work here. I don’t just look for future stylists, I look for future partners. So in a way, we are a family business.Gemy Chiarizio
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