Behind the Scenes: Somer Krueger
Originally appeared in the Spring 2018 OFW Magazine
As Director of the Omaha Fashion Week Beauty Alliance, owner of Trios Salon in Omaha, and full-time mother, Somer Krueger does it all! We sat down with this fun and fabulous woman to talk Fashion Week, goals, and mentorship within the industry.
How did you start Trios Salon in Omaha?
In 2005, I had a salon partnership that ended abruptly. I was eight months pregnant and needed a hair salon that I could start working at right away, so I started my own! Trios originally opened as a small location with four designers. We’ve always been an employee-based salon rather than independent stylists with their own chairs. We coach and mentor our employees and provide them with every tool they need.
Could you explain what the Omaha Fashion Week Beauty Alliance is?
The vision behind the Beauty Alliance is to get professionals working shoulder to shoulder, and to mentor the newest people in the industry. We want to provide an environment where students can be exposed to a true hands-on experience. School can be so sheltering and doesn’t always provide students with opportunities in the real world. Students are the future of everything in our industry, and it’s so important to create a sustainable forefront. The idea is that professionals will get to work together and mentor students, then those students will grow to become professionals and mentor the next students in line.
How did you get started with the OFW Beauty Alliance?
Trios had helped designers at Omaha Fashion Week in the past, prior to the formation of the Beauty Alliance, so I had built a connection with OFW. I was invited to a salon owner’s meeting at Omaha Design Center and I was the only owner who showed up. All the other owners were sick or had something else come up, and I think that was the universe working in my favor. I got to sit and brainstorm with members of the OFW team, and really think outside of the box. That’s how the idea of the Beauty Alliance was born and it’s only grown from there!
How have you seen mentorship within the OFW Beauty Alliance benefit its participants?
I’ve seen salons that truly put themselves into the ring and recruit really talented students to come work in their salons. It’s a gift to both students and salon owners. It allows stylists to work with and mentor people they may have never come into contact with otherwise. It’s cultivated really cool connections that allow the students to stay in touch with each other. It’s also allowed people from different salons to connect and create professional relationships. It’s beautiful to watch so many unique people from different places in the industry come together and become a team.
The OFW Beauty Alliance has existed through the last two seasons. Was there a moment when you felt the Alliance really start to click?
Definitely during Rack Check of this past August. I started crying at the end of it because, all of the sudden it was like, ‘Oh my god, it’s all coming together!’ Leading up to Rack Check, I was buried in phone calls and emails, trying to reach out to stylists to be a part of the Beauty Alliance. It was incredibly stressful trying to get people to call me back and to make sure I had a team put together. But at Rack Check, everything just fell into place. Everyone showed up and pulled together as a team. Friendships were being developed and I just knew that everything was as it should be.
Was there ever a moment you doubted its effectiveness?
No. Not one. The OFW Beauty Alliance is growing and will continue to transform. I think the vision for it is continually becoming clearer.
Was there one event or moment that was the high point of your career?
I don’t think I’ve hit that moment yet. I’m very futuristic, I think that moment is still a ways off. I don’t think the industry is done with me yet. I still have work to do and I still want to give back to it.
Is there anyone who has been especially influential in your career?
I would say it wasn’t anyone, but everyone! I admire my close friends, my trusted mentors, my children and my husband for their insight and support. The truth is I literally look up to EVERYONE for their unique talents and strengths. I learn something from everyone in my life and especially those that I serve on my salon team. I take inspiration from every direction and try to use it to become an influence in someone else’s life.
What obstacles have you faced in your career, and how did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacle I’ve faced came up about 6-7 years ago. I was literally thinking, ‘Oh my gosh I cannot keep this business going.’ I was working full time behind the chair while running my salon. I had six kids. I had to take out a personal loan from my parents. I had an immense amount of credit card debt. I was behind on rent for the salon. I thought I was going to quit. I realized I had two choices: I could completely give up or I could figure out how to fix it. So I studied everything I could to raise my business and turn it around. No one shows you how to run your own business; entrepreneurship is totally on your own. I sat myself down to figure it out. For a while, I stopped taking home a paycheck and I left my tips at the salon in order to make sure everyone else was getting paid. Not only were we able to get our debt paid off in 3 years, we built a new location that was double the size. We also turned the company completely profitable and tripled our employee size in the last five years.
What future goals do you have for the OFW Beauty Alliance?
I am dreaming about creating a Beauty Alliance leadership team that will help create a new level of mentoring opportunities for hair and makeup professionals. Another goal is to keep putting the students first. We have been able to connect with and mentor hundreds of students from local cosmetology schools that are motivated, passionate, and committed to the art of the industry. By giving them a hands-on experience and introducing them to professionals, we hope that salons will see the OFW Beauty Alliance as an opportunity to recruit, and the ultimate interview. We have already seen this in action with the salon companies that are committed to Omaha Fashion Week. We also have another goal to provide marketing and educational material for everyone in the Beauty Alliance to demonstrate how their runway work can attract new guests and open some incredible doors in the industry!
What advice do you have for anyone looking to pursue a career as a hair stylist or makeup artist?
The sky is the limit! In this industry, you have the potential to get as much out of your career as you put into it. There is no other industry like this one. I came from the business world before cosmetology school, and that world is relentless. It comes with a lot of posturing that isn’t true to humanity. But this industry shines a light on truth and beauty. It helps humanity shine. How can you not think that the work you do gives back? I would also encourage everyone to get a mentor. You can’t go it alone and you shouldn’t have to. Once you’ve got it, give back and mentor someone else. That makes the heart beat.