Cutting loose: Niles native excited to unleash her creativity

Published 11:05 pm Friday, December 5, 2003

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- "Home for Christmas" is what it feels like to Christine Edmonds.
She's "standing inside my dream," Styles Plus Hair and Nails Studio, opening Dec. 10 at 103 Commercial St.
The Niles native intended to convert her garage on M-152 into a salon, but couldn't obtain commercial zoning she needed from Silver Creek Township.
Since her conceptual sketch seems an identical match to the former Short Stop and Flour Shop bakery location, right down to the black-and-white checkerboard floor, the karma seems to signal this is what was meant to be all along.
Of course, previous tenants of Alan Fricke's building, which through the 1980s housed I. Oppenheim men's clothing, won't recognize the pink pizzazz the Sister Lakes woman has imparted.
Three coats of pink paint, muted by a black pattern created with a feather duster, comfy hot pink '74 chairs and a bubble lamp churning away brightly in a dark corner give the place visual impact.
Edmonds is an artist whose normal canvas is fingernails on which she can paint an entire Santa Claus.
Her bottled-up creativity is ready to -- pardon the pun in a hair salon -- cut loose.
The checkerboard floor foreshadows something else Edmonds has in mind -- finding an African American stylist.
Edmonds is determined to remedy that shortcoming because "to have to turn people away because of their skin is just wrong. People travel other places, like Benton Harbor, and it's just not right. I'm definitely going to take some classes so I never have to face that dilemma again."
Edmonds has been a stylist and nail technician since 1991. The mother of three has lived in the Dowagiac area since 1988.
To entice back previous customers -- "they know who they are" -- she's offering discount pricing for a year.
She is also running a special of $25 for a complete set of nails.
In 1999 she helped Angie Andersen redecorate the former Dollar Maze and Lena's candy store at 228 S. Front St. with a green-and-white motif for Headlines Hair Salon.
The women became friends during four years they worked together at The Hairitage. Edmonds also worked for Designs Unlimited on W. Railroad Street and for The Mane Attraction.
She left Headlines after a year, then worked at Ultratech Windows, Siding and Roofing in South Bend, Ind., for a year.
Product lines Styles Plus will carry include Head Games -- for a trendy short cut styling aid, try "Gelous Rage" -- and Bain de Terre.
Styles Plus will be open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesdays through Friday, and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
She's like a coiled spring, so excited for Wednesday to arrive.
Away from the salon she sings in a quartet at Michiana Church of Christ with her fiance, Mike, and the Diazes. Paul operates Tachos, the Mexican restaurant on M-51 North, Dowagiac.