As most artists know, it’s really hard to find venues to show their work, especially if they don’t have much exhibition experience. So when I meet business owners who are not only willing, but enthusiastic about artists showing in their space, I think it’s worthy of mention. I first met Stephanie Stomp back in March of 2017 when she allowed me and some other artists to set up tables in front of her salon, Envy Beauty Studio, for an outdoor art event. She was so welcoming and gracious that night, treating us to drinks and snacks and some awesome Aveda samples! That was a really great first meeting, and since then I’ve come to know her as someone who goes above and beyond for her community. And she’s a great hair stylist, too.
How long have you been living in Long Beach?
I moved to Long Beach in ‘98. I used to live in the Belmont Heights area, and then I moved to downtown in 2006, and in 2013 I opened up the salon.
Have you always had artists come and hang work here from the beginning?
That was the reason why I moved to this neighborhood, because I was living here, and I loved the art walk, and the eclectic atmosphere, so when I moved here I knew that I wanted to have a space where I could have art—that was a really big priority to me.
How did you start finding artists to hang work?
My very first artist who hung in the salon was Robin Feely, and I met her at an art show when they used to do the Rumble on Pine. She was my very first artist in 2013. When I first moved in, my cousin designed the bars to hang, because that was the intention, to have people hang their art on the walls.
I remember when we first met, you were very encouraging and enthusiastic about wanting me to have a show at your salon, and that was really nice. I could tell you were genuinely interested in helping artists have a space to show.
Most of the artists who’ve hung their work in the salon, they’ve never hung their art anywhere else before.
So you provide a space for [mostly] beginning artists to have a place to hang their work, and give them confidence. Have you ever turned down an artist, based on quality or subject matter or anything like that?
No, but with that being said, we’ve had people in here who weren’t the best fit, and we’ve had some client feedback on them, but that’s just what art is. It’s subjective and it appeals to different people so I’ve decided that my space is for anybody.
Do you now have a backlog of artists wanting to show?
December/January we do not do art walk, just because it’s a really busy time of year for us. But starting in March I have artists going well into the summer. It’s kind of funny because they’re now approaching me.
And how do they say they found out about your space?
Normally it’s my clients. [If my clients are artists] I persuade them to come and hang their art. And a lot of times it’s referrals from clients about people they know.
Do you ever get people who just come in and do like a cold call kind of thing?
I have. I have people now who bring a resume. I don’t even know how they heard about me, sometimes they’ll walk in, and I’m with a client so I don’t really have time to chat with them but they’ll leave behind their information.
And you’ve never taken any kind of commission or charge the artist?
You know, I always say that I’ll take 10%, but I never have [laughs]. A lot of times I’ve been gifted with a piece of art, which I really love. I just don’t have it in me. I feel so fortunate that I get to have beautiful art in my salon, so I figure that’s my payment.
Now I know you have said that it’s been kind of difficult with the art walk here because your particular stretch of street doesn’t get as much foot traffic.
The Arts Council has a new thing going on where they put vendors out in front of the businesses on our street, which has been really nice. I feel bad because I wasn’t open last art walk because I was out of town so I did talk to the Arts Council again this month and reiterate to them that we would be open for art walk and it would be great if they could put some vendors down here too.
Aside from offering up your space for art, what other art events around town do you go to or participate in?
I feel like I’m out and about all the time, sometimes it’s hard when I get off of work on Saturdays and I just want to go home and hibernate in my apartment. During art walk I try get out of the salon for a minute and go around and see what else is going on on the streets. That’s one thing about Long Beach, there’s always something going on.
So if any interested artists wanted to put their work in front of you, what would be the best way for them to reach you?
Email me at email@example.com. I always encourage artists to come in and look at the space, so that they can get a vibe of what pieces would work in here. You had yours all mapped out digitally where you were going to hang your art. Most artists, they just come in and we pick one place where they want to start and then we go from there.
I’ve been doing this for a while, so I have my system, but like you said, there are a lot of artists just starting out or have never really exhibited, where this could be a really valuable experience, so I definitely want to encourage people to try to get their work in here.
Now I want to talk a little bit about your business, because recently you went to renting out chairs in your salon. Before that you used to have employees. How has that been going? Do you have enough people to rent?
OK, so you need more people.
Absolutely. My dream for this space was to be able to have it be open from 8 in the morning til 10 at night, where it could work around other people’s schedules too. Everybody has another life outside of work, and I’m trying to find that balance also. I would like to be able to step away from my chair and enjoy things that are going on in the neighborhood and be able to have people in here that feel safe, and people who just want to do some hair and have fun.
Where do you usually advertise for stylists like that?
I’m part of an Aveda network, so I’ve put out the word there. I’ve done some Facebook stuff, I’m trying to do word-of-mouth, I’ve gone around to other salons here in the neighborhood and have asked to send me any of their overflow.
If any stylists are interested in renting a chair from you, they can contact you at the same email?
Yup, or pop in. Again, it’s all about a vibe, so if they feel the vibe here I’m all about inviting them to come in and at least give it a try.