Marc & Kelly Rockquemore have owned the New Identities Hair Studio in Tampa Palms for nearly 20 years. Their New Tampa location on BBD Blvd. is still adding new clients and stylists.

While its original location in Tampa Palms has been open for nearly 20 years, New Identities’ newest location in New Tampa is both building its clientele and its roster of professional stylists.

Owners Marc and Kelly Rockquemore now have three locations, including Tampa Palms, in the Shoppes at Amberly; a South Shore location in the Riverview/Apollo Beach area; and the newest location, which opened in the Publix-anchored New Tampa Center plaza on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. about 18 months ago.

New Identities specializes in hair styling for men and women, including color and cuts, plus perms, relaxers, conditioning treatments and even extensions, and also offers facial waxing.

“At the end of the day, we want people to love their hair and feel like they got good value, too,” says Marc. “They look at their beautiful hair in the mirror and feel really good about the experience they had at our studio.”

While the name “New Identities” implies dramatic makeovers — and they certainly do quite a few of those — Marc says that many of the studios’ clients come in on a regular basis for color touch-ups and trims every few weeks, too.

“Our name makes you think we’re doing transformations on people, and we do a lot of projects and advanced color techniques,” says Marc. “But, we’re not just doing purple and blue, though.”

He explains that his stylists often do color correction and hair repair, especially fixing hair that’s been damaged. They also are experts at specialty colors and balayage, a technique of free-hand painting highlights onto the hair, creating a softer and more natural look.

“We have more than 12,000 followers on Instagram,” Marc says. “We post hundreds of photos on Instagram so people can see our work.”

Women make up the majority of the clients at New Identities, but Marc estimates that men are now about 25 percent of those who come in for services. He wants men to know they are more than welcome at any of the studios.

“We encourage guys to come in,” Marc says. “They get a complimentary scalp massage, a consultation, haircut, even a glass of wine if they want one. It’s a very different guest experience than what you would experience at a barbershop or discount hair cutter.”

Expertly Trained Stylists

Marc and Kelly believe in ongoing training for all of the stylists at their salon and make it a point to bring in trainers to ensure that all New Identities stylists are trained in the latest techniques.

“We put our money where our mouths are when it comes to continuing education,” says Marc. “We fly in educators from New York or Los Angeles or wherever to do classes for just our staff.” 

He calls the on-site training “a huge benefit to our stylists,” who otherwise might only see these types of techniques at an annual hair show with thousands of people in the room or by watching videos on YouTube. 

“That’s a completely different experience than having a trainer standing over you while you work on a mannequin,” Marc says. “The training benefits our guests, too, because it allows us to bring the latest trends and techniques to them.”

He says he often hires stylists right out of hair school. Then, they go through an extensive training program to be sure they’re ready to style and color up to New Identities’ standards.

“We have a six-month associate training program, which is one-on-one job shadowing with one of our top stylists, where they learn every aspect of what that stylist does,” explains Marc. “It’s a very hands-on, intense training program that takes their skill level up to the next level. We have full confidence in every stylist who comes out of the program.” 

Of course, he adds, not every stylist who is hired has to go  through the associate program. Depending upon their skill and experience when they are hired, they may only go through the program for a short time.”

Marc says New Identities is always interviewing for new talent.

“We put a different kind of spin on hiring,” says Marc. “A lot of businesses wait until they need to hire someone to do interviews, but we are always looking for the best people to fit our culture. When we meet them, we make room for them.”

He says New Identities is more stringent than most salons about who they allow into the business, looking for stylists who also have great character and personality, and are happy to be at work.

“We know it when we see it,” Marc says. “I get compliments all the time about how nice our staff is. That’s really important to us.”

Tampa Palms resident Lisa O’Neil is someone who appreciates the salon’s commitment to both customer service and excellent training.

Lisa has been a client at New Identities for more than 12 years. She started at the Tampa Palms location, but followed her stylist to the New Tampa location. Over the years, Lisa says she has seen three different stylists, and she watches how all of the stylists interact with each other — and with the customers. “They know what they’re doing,” Lisa says. “They keep up on training and all the new products.”

Lisa says she also loves the way she’s treated at New Identities, and appreciates the special touches, such as always being offered a drink and being referred to as a “guest,” instead of a customer. Lisa says she often gets unsolicited compliments about her hair from strangers, whether she’s traveling or just in the grocery store.

“I’m pretty picky,” she says. “There are so many salons in the area, but I’ve never considered going anywhere else.”

A Budget For Everyone

New Identities now employs more than 40 stylists between its three locations. The cost for services varies depending upon the “level” of the stylist.

Marc is always quick to clear up a misconception that a stylist at a lower level may be less competent than a stylist at a higher level.

“We have six levels of stylists, based on the (customer) demand for their time,” says Marc. “The misconception is that a lower level stylist is a less experienced or less talented stylist, but that’s not the case. For example, we have three stylists who just started in Tampa Palms who are veterans — they each have been doing hair for anywhere from eight to 15 years — but they are at a lower level because they just moved to the area and are building their clientele. Essentially, their services are ‘on sale.’”

Marc adds that all New Identities stylists are competitively priced for the area, but the stylists who are at the lower levels have more availabilities.

“We can accommodate people looking for beauty on a budget,” Marc says.

It’s also important to Marc and Kelly to be active in the community, so they participate in events that support worthy causes. On May 17, they participated in the annual “Fashion Funds The Cure” at Raymond James Stadium, where pediatric cancer patients are featured in a fashion show each year to raise money for the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

In years past, New Identities also has been the official salon of both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleaders and the Tampa Bay Lightning girls. The studio has been seen on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” Fox’s “Ambush Makeover,” TLC’s “A Wedding Story,” the NFL Network’s “Making The Squad,” and MTV’s “True Life!”

All three New Identities Hair Studio locations are open Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.–9 p.m.; 9 a.m.–8 p.m. on Friday; and 9 a.m.–6 p.m. on Saturday.  They’re closed on Sunday.

For appointments at the New Tampa New Identities Hair Studio (19038 BBD Blvd.), call (813) 579-1575. For Tampa Palms (15307 Amberly Dr.), call (813) 979-0760. For the South Shore studio (10639 Big Bend Rd. in Riverview), call (813) 741-1177.  

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