It seems like Shelby Hardimon was destined to own a hair salon at 213 W. Washington St. in Monticello.
After all, her mother owned Karen’s Classics at the same location for some 15 years.
"My mom actually owned a shop on this side of the building and she worked doing hair on her own for 15 years, so I got to grow up in this shop," said Hardimon, who opened the Meraki Hair Studio on Jan. 22.
"Being younger I just remember her being busy, and helping people and doing things for others all the time. Seeing how exciting the salon was as a young girl is something I’ve always looked up to," added Hardimon, who has worked in hair studios in Champaign and Florida since 2013.
But she’s been cutting hair for a lot longer, learning from her mother and styling and coloring friends’ hair while still attending Monticello High School, where she graduated in 2011.
Her family owns the downtown building, which was extensively remodeled for the previous tenant – Black Hat Barber and Shave Co. – including the removal of a wall down the middle to make it more spacious. Hardimon was working at a salon in Florida when she got the call that the spot had freed up, but she was still unsure if she wanted to run her own business at the age of 26.
"It seemed a lot to go back to my hometown and do something my mom did. But one day I started thinking about it, and realized I have the skill, and I’ve been doing it a while," she said.
So when her father called for a decision, her response was simple.
"I’m ready," said Hardimon.
Her past experience allows her to be a one-stop shop of sorts, ranging in services from simple cuts to coloring and spiral permanents. Prices range from $10 on up to $70 for perms.
Hardimon said she is also comfortable with men’s hair, noting she worked at Look After Hair Co. in Champaign, where "probably 75 percent of my clients were men."
She also enjoys the new technique of hair painting, which allows stylists to place coloring more directly on the hair. That ties in to the name of the business, which is Greek for taste, but in more general terms means putting a part of oneself into their efforts, whether that be cooking or cutting hair.
Meraki Hair Studio is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Walk-ins are allowed, but appointments can also be made by calling 217-419-1928 or online through the business’ Facebook and Instagram pages.