116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
LISBON — Chatter punctuated by frequent laughter among customers and staff fills the Styling Station on a recent afternoon that was strongly hinting of fall. Hair has been cut for decades in the brick storefront on Lisbon’s Main Street, although the clientele and owners have changed.
“My mom used to own the salon across the street, and I grew up watching her when she was working,” Kalisa Brokel recalled. “She’s been in the business 30-plus years now.”
After graduating from Salon Professional Academy in Iowa City, Broke returned to work with her mother, Leighann Baxa.
“I worked with her across the street when I started out, and I decided I wanted to own my own space,” she said. “So I bought this from John Goodwin.”
Goodwin operated Barber John’s for nearly 40 years, in an 1890 storefront that originally was a butcher shop, Brokel said. It took some doing to transform the space.
“He operated out of the front, and he had a couple of storage rooms,” said Brokel, sitting in the back half of the building.
“This was actually a garage. He was a big fisherman, and he used to store his boat back here.”
The abundant natural light, exposed brick walls and repurposed vintage cabinets complimenting the stylists’ chairs and appliances? That’s all Brokel’s doing.
“I did it all myself,” she said. “I do help out with some spec homes and designing homes on the side, just something fun. I like interior design — anything that’s kind of artsy.”
The Styling Station opened Oct. 1, 2018.
“Running a business, that’s been a learning experience for me because I’d never done that before,” Brokel said.
“I just take it day by day, and I’m glad I have my mom who had her business for many, many years. I’ve had her to lean on and look to for advice.”
Coming just 18 months after she launched the business, the COVID-19 pandemic was its own learning experience.
“That was hard,” Brokel said. “We were shut down for about three months. That was tricky, but all our clients were super supportive during that time. They supported us in any way they could, even just words of encouragement that were so nice.
“When we reopened, we were bombarded. It was crazy, and I had a baby. I’d be open for one week, and I had a baby and I came back to work because everyone wanted their hair done because they hadn’t had their hair cut in three months. So I came back to work. We worked seven days a week, and 12-plus-hour days.”
Things have settled into what Brokel considers normal — but a new normal.
“Because people are working from home now, we have seen a lot of new people,” she said. “People aren’t traveling into Cedar Rapids or Iowa City or wherever they were working to get their hair done. They’re coming here, so that’s really fun. I’ve met a lot of new local people, and my clientele has grown that way. I think that’s had a lot to do with COVID.”
The pandemic altered some clients’ preferences, too.
“People changed their styles,” Brokel said. “Clients that would come in and get color every four weeks and (those) who were gray, they just transitioned to gray. That was a big thing, too, for my day-to-day, because I was counting on seeing them every four weeks and you kind of lose connections with them.”
What hasn’t changed?
“The trends are always changing, so you have to keep up,” Brokel said. “There’s a lot of trade shows that we go to. We’re constantly furthering our education that way.
“Social media’s a crazy thing now, too, in the hair world. I’ve had clients that will come in, and they will have tried something on their own and I’m like, ‘Oh gosh.’”
But Brokel believes she can find something that works for any client.
“I don’t feel there’s any specific trend right now,” she said. “Anything goes.”
Owner: Kalisa Brokel
Address: 116 E. Main St., Lisbon
Phone: (319) 455-0089
Hair coloring is the favorite part of Brokel’s work.
“I love doing blonds, that’s my favorite,” she said. “Coloring in general, just because you can be really creative. Each day’s different, so you never know what you’re going to be doing.”
Brokel has added a line of clothing, “just as something fun for my clients. I don’t know that I see that going any further. I always have dreams of different businesses, but I love what I do.”
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