In 2005, Kacy Bott had no formal hair style training.
She’d been cutting friends’ hair out of a garage for years. One day, while getting her hair done for a wedding, Bott remembers the stylist asking, “You’ve been cutting your hair by yourself?”
“And I was like, ‘I know, I’m embarrassed,’” Bott said. “She goes, ‘No, you should be a hairdresser.’”
Before the appointment was over, Bott interviewed and accepted a position as a style apprentice.
In July of this year, her salon in Fitchburg, Salon KB, celebrated 10 years in business. With the help of family and friends, Bott opened her salon in just two short weeks, after the salon she was working at abruptly closed. Today, she’s still in that same location.
“(At that time) none of us knew that we would’ve made it 10 years,” Bott said.
Her clients are booked out months in advance and her business model adapted to a changing salon climate. She has a core staff along with a rotation of style apprentice to teach a new generation of beauticians.
What she loves most about being a stylist is coloring. She said cutting hair is like geometry, but coloring is like chemistry. She is seeing more clients get bright and bold colors like hot pinks and blues, which require stylists to find a way to break down the hair molecules without damage.
Her love for styling and her experience are reflected in her clientele. Bott has many long-running clients, some from when she was still an apprentice. She had one client who moved to Rhinelander and would make the three hour drive to Fitchburg every six weeks just to sit in her styling chair.
“I think we have the best clientele possible here,” Bott said.
To support her community and her clients, Bott annually holds fundraising drives. The salon donates a percentage of the retail sale to such as area organizations like the Dane County Humane Society, Susan G. Komen Foundation and Arbor Day Foundation.
“Pretty much everybody that works here loves animals and the environment and knows somebody that’s had some form of cancer,” Bott said.
The shop regularly donates gift cards to Leopold Elementary School and Shop with a Cop and initiates bi-annual drive for things like coats, food or school supplies.
This year, Bott is planning a camping gear drive for people who are homeless. She said she knew someone who was homeless, so she liked the idea of collecting tents, small stoves and sleeping bags for people who are forced to live outside.
“Until you get on your feet and until you find somewhere to go, at least you’re not freezing to death,” Bott said.
Along with community service initiatives starting Sept. 1, Salon KB became a blended salon. A new trend, Bott said, has stylists rent chairs in an established space. The renters have their own product and their own clientele, create their own schedules and pay Salon KB rent every month.
Salon KB still has apprentices, but once they’ve graduated, their employee contract turns into a rental contract. The blended salon reduces an industry trend where stylist and employers become territorial over clientele.
“When someone leaves a salon, it is usually not on good terms,” Bott said.
Bott still loves a team and learning environment. She offers renters and apprentice opportunities for further training at fashion shows in New York City or right at the salon. When she can, Bott enjoys showing renters and apprentices appropriate finger positions and body angles.
“I always focus on education because everybody needs it,” Bott said. “Hair is always changing. Trends are always changing.”
As the sole business owner, she doesn’t have much time away from the salon. However, when she does, she travels to remote camping destinations with little cell reception and few people. This summer, she went to Rock Island off the Door County coast.
“I’d tell everybody, ‘OK guys, I’m going camping this weekend,’ and I’d send like a mass text and like, ‘You have one hour before I’m out of service. If there’s anything at all, let me know now,’” Bott said.
She also had a woodworking shop where she builds most of the furniture for the salon, including the artwork on the walls and the display cases.
As a business owner and hairstylist, she has found her niche and doesn’t picture herself going anywhere anytime soon, she said.
“I say that everything in my life, all the good things that have happened to me, have been accidents,” Bott said.