by Nan Royce
LESTER PRAIRIE Peg Rathkamp recently opened a new salon Rock It With Color in the former depot building at 282 Babcock Ave. in Lester Prairie.
Rathkamp has been a hair stylist for 26 years, some of which were worked in Lester Prairie.
She has also worked out of town in a variety of styling capacities, including teaching cosmetology at an alternative high school, and earning certification in L’Anza healing hair coloring products.
Awhile ago, Rathkamp discovered she missed her time in a salon. “I felt drawn to work behind the chair again,” she said.
The road to Rock It
Rathkamp, who grew up in Winsted, recalls being interested in the fashion and beauty industries from young girlhood.
At the age of 23, as a wife and mom of two young children, Rathkamp enrolled at St. Cloud Beauty College. She earned her degree, and began her styling career.
She always felt driven to be her personal best. “You can take yourself so much farther if you challenge and push yourself,” she said. “Why be better when you can be great?”
Rathkamp said she owes a lot of her success to stylists who showed her the ropes during her first years in the beauty business.
“I’ve had some amazing mentors,” she said, listing Sharon Hecksel, Charlotte Ehrke, Donna Munson, and Peggy Lachermeier as a few of her early career coaches. “I now realize how much they inspired me.”
After nearly three decades in the business, she hopes to similarly inspire young stylists.
With the opening of her own salon, which she named Rock It With Color, she has ample space to do so.
Rathkamp said her salon, started as a vision that has now become reality.
The building’s owners began transforming the salon space for Rathkamp in June, and she spent the summer buying and collecting various bits and pieces of decor. Rathkamp said her husband Jeff put in many hours crafting coordinating frames and shelving.
Rathkamp’s personal touches are abundant. The salon walls are painted in soothing colors. Her old cutting shears are framed and on the wall by the entry to the “relaxation room.”
An ornate frame displays an antique picture of Rathkamp’s, grandfather, who was a barber.
Plush seating areas and portraits of painter Frida Kahlo and iconic actress Audrey Hepburn add to the ambiance.
Sharp shears back in action
Rathkamp said she’s starting off slowly. She is operating the salon solo at the moment, but Winsted native Angie Allen will join her Wednesday, Nov. 1.
Rock It With Color has room for growth, and Rathkamp anticipates being able to add several part-time stylists to the staff in the future.
Rathkamp is pleased that the majority of her clientele has stuck with her during her change in location.
She appreciates her many local clients, and remains pleasantly surprised by clients who travel to Rock It With Color from the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, and even from out of state. “I feel very honored by that,” she said.
She was delighted when she recently had the opportunity to perform her first fourth-generation haircut.
Rathkamp said the common belief that people have a tendency to tell everything to their stylist is typically true. “I embrace that,” she said. “You become a part of them.”
Rathkamp believes her purpose now is to make her clients feel like the very best versions of themselves.
Or, as she laughingly puts it, “We need to make us old bags feel good about ourselves.”
Rathkamp off-handedly mentioned that she donates the tips she receives. She has a long-standing habit of giving her tips to causes she believes in. At the moment, those tips go to Dress for Success in Minneapolis.
Dress for Success helps women in crisis situations find suitable clothing for employment. “It keeps you humble,” Rathkamp said.
Rathkamp knows the importance of staying on top of the trends within her industry.
At the moment, she says edgy colors such as purple, pink, and smoke are all the rage. She also sees longer, wavier, and softer styles coming in fashion for women.
“Styles are less choppy,” she said. “It takes fine, blended color placement. It’s a lot of fun.”
As a lifelong stylist, Rathkamp realizes all old styles become new again.
“Everything re-invents itself every 20 years in some form,” she said. “We might see perms and mullets coming back, but they’ll call it something different.”
At the end of the day, Rathkamp really just wants her clients to be happy in their own skin and fresh hair.
“You can be as crazy or as serious as you want,” she declared about picking a cut or color. “You can be who you are.”
Rathkamp has earned certified status with L’Anza, a California-based hair product line, and intends to become board certified, as well.
That designation takes even more training, a written test, and hands-on styling using L’Anza products.
She likes the L’Anza color line because she says it heals, seals, and protects hair, and that L’Anza color lasts longer than other brands.
Happily at home
Rathkamp is truly delighted to be back at work in her own space, and in her own town.
“I’m really blessed to be able to come back and work in this area,” she said.
And she does still enjoy her time behind the chair. “It’s a great way to release my creative energy,” she said. “I love to share that with people.”
Rathkamp said that right now, Rock It With Color’s hours are “morning to evening.” She schedules appointments at the convenience of her clients.
Clients can reach her by calling (320) 395-2350.