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From the time she was a little girl, Karisa Hemling has always enjoyed the beauty and art of styling hair. She spent hours doting over friends’ hair as they prepared for special occasions.

Hemling realized her dream a couple months ago when she started TEASE, a new hair salon, in downtown Columbus. TEASE opened May 30 at 136 E. James St. Hemling was joined by stylist and long-time co-worker and friend Victoria Bettilyon in her new business endeavor.

Hemling, a 2012 Columbus High School graduate, enjoys being downtown, helping to revitalize Columbus’ James Street corridor. Amerprise Financial opened near the salon in May and James Street Pizza Company plans to open later this summer.

“I thought the building was cute,” Hemling said.

The salon is open Mondays from 12-8 p.m. (closed Tuesdays), Wednesdays from 12-8, Thursdays from 9-6, Fridays from 9-2 and Saturdays by appointment. It’s also closed on Sundays.

“We can be here more or less, depending on the day,” Hemling said.

TEASE offers haircuts starting at $22 and children’s haircuts (12 and younger) are $15. In addition, the salon offers colorings and perms starting at $50 and $55, up-dos for $55 and a variety of facial waxing treatments starting at $10. The salon does not do nail work.

According to Hemling, Columbus has eight hair salons. It’s a crowded field in a small community. Competition to rise above the pack can be challenging.

“Everyone likes different things, but I feel like we stay up-to-date on the different trends and techniques as far as hair cutting and coloring goes,” Hemling said. “The atmosphere is very welcoming and at home. We also have all ages that come in, instead of having a specific age group that we target.”

Hemling wants to bring the old-time beauty parlor atmosphere back to Columbus. After working at the Color X salon in Columbus for five years, Hemling built a strong clientele. She has connected with many of her clients on a personal level.

“You’re kind of like their therapist,” Hemling said. “You’re here to listen, but we also want to make them feel beautiful, that’s the biggest goal.”

Hemling began looking for a space to start a salon just a few months ago. The building on James Street was available and she jumped at the opportunity. Hemling and Bettilyon have almost 15 years of combined hair-styling experience. They felt they were ready to branch out and start a new business venture.

“We were thankful that our clientele spoke up enough that we could do it,” Hemling said. “That was the hardest part, knowing if you’re ready to open. You’re taking a gamble either way. It can be scary.”

While Hemling is the new kid on the block, businesses owners in downtown Columbus have been very welcoming. She enjoys being in the center of town and believes the heart of Columbus is starting to show signs of growth.

“Everyone has sent flowers or brought us coffee,” Hemling said. “It’s just nice. Especially with other competition, you wonder if they’re going to be mad if you’re here, but everyone has been very welcoming. It’s just awesome.”

While it’s only been a couple months, TEASE appears to be doing well. Heming and Bettilyon have added several new clients to their already strong clientele.

Hemling is quite content with TEASE for now, but she wouldn’t mind adding another stylist in the coming years.

“I wouldn’t mind building up my clientele a little more and maybe keep the place updated,” Hemling said. “Other than that, I’m pretty happy with where we’re at.”

For more information on TEASE, send email to teasesalon03@gmail.com or call 920-626-5009.

Follow Kevin Damask on Twitter @kdamask or contact him at 608-963-7323.