By Matt Wiley

It’s easy to do a double take when walking into the New Identities Hair Studio in the Shoppes of Amberly plaza in Tampa Palms. It may even require a quick look out the storefront window to make sure that you are still in Florida, as the Tampa Palms location has taken on the appearance of a premier New York City salon following a recent facelift. However, the services that New Identities provides will continue to keep New Tampa residents feeling like runway models.

The hair studio, a Redken Elite salon (meaning it carries Redken hair products, exclusively), which normally has been on the other end of makeovers for the past 13 years, was in need of a makeover, itself, so Tampa Palms residents and New Identities co-owners Mark and Kelly Rockquemore traveled to the Big Apple to see how the big studios decorate.

“We modeled it after the salons we visited in New York and other places,” explains Marc. “We didn’t just put together a décor that appealed to us. We wanted to bring a full, well-rounded experience to our guests, many of whom have been with us since we first opened.”

With two locations, including one in Tampa’s South Shore district, a wide range of hair services, perms, relaxers, world-class hair color, hair design and creative color techniques, New Identities works to enhance every guest’s overall image. Although the salons have a strong industry reputation with top stylists, Marc says that New Identities has seven different price points that can fit any budget and that the price for different stylists is based on the demand for their time.

In addition to a new look for New Identities, the hair studio also was the recipient of the Salon Today magazine 200 Award for both “Recruitment and Training” and “Philanthropy” for the third consecutive year.

“Salon Today magazine is the top beauty industry publication,” says Marc. “Each year, they put together a list of the top 200 salons in the U.S., based on growth, business practices, recruiting and pretty much everything that has to do with how the business works. And, this is our third straight year on the list. It’s pretty cool.”

The award for philanthropy came in part thanks to New Identities’ participation in the 2013 Tampa Bay “Cut For A Cure,” a charity event held on April 3, in which local celebrities, including Tampa Bay Lightning players and prominent business owners from around the Tampa Bay area, shaved their heads to raise money to benefit the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. So far, this year’s event has raised nearly $340,000. Several New Identities stylists helped with the shaving.


Only The Best Hair Stylists

New Identities also earned the Salon Today award for its recruitment and training, which, according to Marc, has produced some of the top stylists in the Tampa Bay area. The New Tampa location currently has 21 stylists, three of whom are in training.

“We look for people who are just coming out of hair school (such as the nearby Paul Mitchell school on N. Nebraska Ave.),” Marc explains. Stylists must go through a six-month “Associate Training Program,” which educates them on everything from front desk procedures to cutting techniques and tools.

Marc says that becoming a New Identities stylist is no easy feat, as some days, he receives more than 300 resumes from hopeful future employees.

“When it comes to stylists, we generally grow our own,” he says. “The people that we bring in are the top ten percent of the top ten percent coming out of hair school. It’s based on their character and technical ability. Character is the most important factor in our hiring decision. It’s not just personality. I also look at honesty, integrity, communication skills and professionalism. Our guests deserve the absolute best.”

Many of New Identities stylists go on to become national “platform artists,” who have achieved enough success and education that they go on to educate other stylists across the country. In many cases, platform artists are on stage in front of thousands of people, giving styling classes.

Several of the New Identities stylists, such as Hannah Nichols, are salon educators. Nichols has been with New Identities for about six years and attended cosmetology school while she was still in high school.

“I already had my (cosmetology) license when I graduated,” she says.

Nichols recently showed off some of the newest techniques that Redken salons are currently offering when she gave Porsha Lemos, our senior graphic designer, a whole new “Ombre” look, transforming her hair from a basic blonde to a natural- looking, dark-to-light fade.


Saying ‘Cheers’ To The Bucs

It should come as no surprise that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleaders have been working exclusively with New Identities for the past decade. On April 6, New Identities celebrated its 10th year of hosting a “makeover day’ for each year’s team of new Bucs cheerleaders at the Tampa Palms location.

“The returning girls come in at their own leisure, but we have a special day where all the rookie cheerleaders come in,” Marc says. “This year, we had 24 new girls. Part of the arrangement as a Bucs cheerleader is that you have to maintain your appearance throughout the year, since the cheerleaders are required to do lots of photo shoots and public appearances. Sometimes a cheerleader’s look is very dramatic and very involved. It’s a marketing thing.”

This exclusive contract with the Bucs is one of the reasons that Marc says that he knows that the two New Identities locations are the best hair studios around.

“It’s neat anytime that you can say that there’s something exclusive that you do with your business, especially because there are more than 1,000 salons in the tri-county area,” he explains. “And, the Tampa Bay Bucs are the Bay area’s premier pro sports franchise.”

Looking for a new look? Come on in to New Identities Hair Studio’s Tampa Palms location at 15307 Amberly Dr. in the Shoppes of Amberly Plaza. Styling is available for both men and women. For more info, including the South Shore location, visit New or call 979-0760.


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