North Tahoe hairstylist ‘transforms’ clients from the inside, out
Special to the Sun
Who: Kimberly Smith
What: Transformations Salon
Address: 8160 North Lake Blvd., Tahoe Vista
TAHOE VISTA, Calif. — When it comes to transforming one’s image with a new hairdo, Kimberly Smith considers more than trimmed and tamed tresses in achieving her client’s desired style.
As hairstylist and owner of Tahoe Vista’s Transformations Salon, her approach to beauty cuts far deeper than split ends by infusing the healing philosophies of Reiki, meditation and positive energy to unveil one’s inner confidence.
“I’m inspired by the organic beauty that lies within each of us,” Smith said. “Hair is definitely a piece of that — it’s an expression of who that person is or what they’re feeling on the inside, and I want to help that person shine in the best light possible.”
TURNING TO TAHOE
As someone accustomed to change, Smith sampled a handful of careers in her quest to forge a path of fulfillment, starting with becoming a licensed hairstylist at age 18.
“By the time I turned 22, I was doing hair full-time, but I started to think it was superficial, and I was becoming more interested in other ways to help people through nutrition, herbalism and healing arts,” Smith said candidly on a quiet Sunday afternoon at Transformations Salon.
By that time, Smith had long-since said goodbye to her Southern California roots, establishing her artistry skills with hair at North Lake Tahoe, and after a few years armed with shears, she decided to cut ties with hair care and focus on other remedial pursuits, like clinical nutrition.
“I started studying herbs because I thought that could have a great effect on the world,” Smith said. “But I found it was a little too structured for me, and that’s when I stumbled on the field of energy medicine, Reiki, and working with essential oils.”
After a friend suggested Smith look into Reiki, she went directly to a bookstore and located a guidebook about the holistic healing practice.
“As I held the book in my hands, it immediately felt hot,” Smith said. “In the very first chapter, it talked about how body heat is part of the flow of Reiki.”
Smith paused with reflection, then added, “It blew me away.”
Around the time she began studying the Japanese-based energy work, she also found herself looking back into a familiar mirror as a hairdresser at Le Petit Salon in Kings Beach, but it wasn’t long before she would try her hand in another passionate pursuit.
THE CUTTING EDGE OF POLITICS
After living and working at North Tahoe for several years, Smith had developed a strong fondness for the climate, the landscape, and the people here, but there was a stronger love she shared with her partner, who eventually pulled her in a different direction —New Jersey.
“I left Tahoe for love, and then found myself working in politics,” she said. “I had always wanted to make the world around me a better place whether through people or the environment, and I thought that would be an effective way to accomplish both those things.”
For two and a half years, Smith developed her political voice, training activists on pressing environmental and social justice issues, namely access to clean water.
“I believe that environmental issues and social justice issues go hand in hand, but I realized that people in politics are more motivated by anger than love,” said the natural-born healer. “I didn’t want to compromise what I believed in, and politics is all about compromise in that you usually get half of what you’re asking for in any given bill — that is, if you’re lucky.”
Just when the push and pull of the political system started to wear on Smith, she received the only news that would bring her and her partner back to Tahoe – the arrival of her newborn son.
“I ended up getting pregnant, but I knew I didn’t want to raise a child back east, so my partner and I decided to come back to Tahoe,” Smith said. “Lake Tahoe is, after all, my first love.”
SHAPING SELF-ESTEEM WITH STYLE
Upon returning to Tahoe, Smith embraced life as a stay-at-home mom while satisfying her workaholic self by doing hair on the side until an opportunity to purchase Le Petit Salon presented itself.
With the newfound ownership, Smith set out on a mission to combine her past experience in hair design with her ongoing passion for alternative healing therapies.
“This whole time, I thought I had to separate the two practices in my mind, where in fact, they’re really similar,” Smith said. “I don’t necessarily practice Reiki on my clients, but it’s something that happens all the time from the moment people walk in the door, throughout their time in the chair, and hopefully, carries with them when they leave.”
In 2013, Smith relocated to a new space in Tahoe Vista, where she was able to see her vision come to life through the custom-designed mirrors to the soothing colors of paint to the artistry in the twisted iron blow-dryer caddies.
Under the new moniker – Transformations Salon – and in the new space that reflected Smith’s mission, she was finally able to achieve the style she had been harnessing all those years.
“It definitely felt like I was taking a risk by putting out hair design as a healing philosophy,” Smith said. “It’s about looking at what’s happening on the inside first, and if you’re not shining from the inside, that’s where the healing comes in to help with the overall transformation.”
Jenny Goldsmith is a North Tahoe-based freelance writer and a former reporter for the Sierra Sun newspaper. Have an idea for a merchant to feature? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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