By MeLinda Schnyder - Photography by Aaron Patton
It might sound contradictory that a woman who owns Wichita’s first blow dry only salon wants women to feel so beautiful on the inside that it radiates to the outside world, whether their hair is perfectly coiffed or not.
“I feel like my mission right now is to empower women to have self love,” said Kalene Smith, the 33-year-old owner and creator of Tousled at the Waterfront in east Wichita. “I want to help women love themselves more every day and connect with their purpose.”
Smith has the makings of a serial entrepreneur, and so far she has combined passion and unmet market needs to drive her start-ups.
Inspired by her own weight loss journey, she left a corporate job to create Go Time Training in 2010 in east Wichita. The Haysville native had earned a degree in mathematics from Wichita State University and was working on her MBA at Newman University when she joined the YMCA to lose weight. She shared tidbits of her journey on social media and loved the engagement with readers.
“Every time I got a question and could respond, it lit me up inside. I was so excited to help someone else,” she said.
For seven years, she helped clients get healthier through exercise and nutrition as a personal trainer but she noticed that many still had the same struggle she had: “I’ve lost this weight but I still don’t feel good in who I am.”
So many women, she said, let limiting beliefs or fear keep them from pursuing a goal, whether it’s a healthy lifestyle, starting a business or chasing a passion. She overcame her self-imposed obstacles to hold the first Gorgeous Strength Summit in 2017. She’ll hold the second summit this August, bringing together 50 to 100 women to spend one day letting go of the daily to-do list in order to focus on what they can do to propel themselves forward toward their life purpose goals.
She also tackled another project last year: starting a blow dry bar in Wichita. She’d heard a podcast by entrepreneur and life coach Tony Robbins about blow dry bars creating a new market category, and she felt Wichita needed a salon devoted to washing and styling hair for special events.
A national franchise told her Wichita didn’t have the market for it.
“Having created something from ground zero on my own with Go Time Training, I thought I don’t need a franchise, I can do this on my own,” said Smith, who sold her 50 percent share of the training business in 2017, having grown it from being the lone personal trainer to having a staff of 16.
A pivotal moment for Smith was when a friend connected her with Danielle Fisher, who had recently moved back to Wichita and brought experience from working at a blow dry bar in Arizona.
Tousled opened in November with Fisher as the shop leader. An additional 15 employees welcome women and girls in for a little pampering or to prepare for any type of special event, from family photos to parties to a girls day out. Blow outs are $40 for adults, $30 for kids and the results can last three to five days even if you work out, Smith said.
The shop is clean and bright, and chick flicks play on a TV. Clients can add scalp massages to add to their relaxation.
“We want this to be home away from home without all of the chaos,” Smith said. “This is a calming and soothing place for women to escape and to detach from their to-do list.”