Katie’s Story

Meet Katie Steller, owner of Steller Hair Company, a 7 chair hair salon located in NE Minneapolis.

Steller Hair Company opened in June of 2013, and has grown at an incredible rate. Katie’s motivation to open her business came from her personal experience in the hair industry. She realized that instead of complaining about what she did not like she had an opportunity to change her experience and lead by example in her own salon.

Katie entered into the hair industry when she was 18 years old, but her story began much earlier.
At age 11 she was diagnosed with an auto immune disease called Ulcerative Colitis. This diagnosis dictated a lot of her childhood, but I did not dictate her spirit. Throughout illness and life circumstances, she became a determined fighter.

When Katie turned 18, her illness had progressed beyond remission, and she had her large intestine removed. This was also around the time she became inspired to become a hairstylist. Her serious health challenges resulted in her beginning to lose her hair. Losing something has the ability to make one realize it’s value. Seeing Katie’s distress, her mom decided to book her a hair appointment with a family friend. Katie had never received a professional haircut before, and after having her hair cut and styled, she realized the impact a hairstylist could have on their client. During her appointment, she was more than an illness: she felt like a person. A person who was beautiful, cared about and important. This experience changed her personally and professionally.

In every aspect of her life Katie strives to be an advocate for people: her employees, clients, and all members of her beloved community. She believes in showing up, even when it feels difficult, and doing the very best in every situation every day. The reputation and growth of Steller Hair Company is evidence that she is succeeding in these goals.

Photo: Jenna Mahr

Mike’s Story

How did I get here?


I find myself asking this question a lot. It usually pertains to the question “how did I end up doing hair and then how did I end up becoming a cosmetology instructor?” Growing up I had dreams of becoming a geologist, or a rock star (one is still a very real dream for me) but never a hairdresser, or a teacher for that matter.  Yet here I am, doing both and in the beginning processes of opening a salon. So really…how did I get here?


Obviously that’s a loaded question that I may never totally figure out, but there are some points in my life I can identify that I think played major roles in how I got here.  One big one that I think everyone can relate to is that I’ve had a lot of really bad hair cuts. I can distinctly remember walking into the local 10 dollar haircut store with my mom when I was a kiddo, excited to get a new do, only to be met by a bald fellow wearing a white dress shirt unbuttoned in such a way his glistening chest hair just seemed to pour out. But what really encompassed his whole look was the gold chain that seemed to be trapped in the Dagobah System that was his chest hair.  (If you don’t know what the Dagobah System is, watch The Empire Strikes Back, it should paint you a not so pretty picture.)  From that moment of the initial greeting on, the experience was tainted. So even if he hadn’t given me a haircut that was so awful it made my cry like a baby, I still wouldn’t ever want to go back to that place ever again. 

Another experience I had that some of you might relate to is when my old man tried to save a trip to the beauty shop, and a few extra dollars,  and decided to cut my hair on his own. Probably not a big deal if you have a decent set of clippers and a guard, but in this case all we had was my old mans beard trimmer. I think I remember saying “dad, I don’t think beard trimmers are the same as clippers…” and his response was something along the lines of “they’re close enough…” Needless to say the first cut was not only painful and terrifying but it was also the last. It was clear my dad had over estimated his good ole beard trimmer, and had to take me to get it fixed…Can you guess where he took me?  Yep…the same place as before. 

I think I had a different stylist that time, and I don’t recall crying after so it was ok in the end. But those two experiences remain with me to this day.


As I got a little older and girls started to not seem gross anymore I started going to Cole’s salon in apple valley to get my cuts. They always delivered a sweet cut and I always enjoyed the experience. By this time I believe my whole family had begun to go to Cole’s (I think they also had tired of coming home, looking in the mirror, and feeling slightly depressed at the sight of a 12 dollar haircut poorly executed by the local chop shop).  My dad was a regular there and still is to this day.


Fast forward a few years, now I’m in college and I’m working at the local Blockbuster making 7.50 an hour.  Aside from the 5 free rentals per week, it wasn’t the best job in the world as my folks made perfectly clear time and time again. It’s safe to say they had a right to get on me for the lack of motivation I had, I really wasn’t trying all that hard. Anyways, my dad had swung into Cole’s for a trim and asked them if they had any use for a 21 year old dude who needed a decent paying job. It’s true, I needed a better paying job to pay the bills I had already accrued from attending the numerous educational institutions in pursuit of “figuring out my life.” (what an expensive experience that was…sorry mom and dad.) Cole’s was hiring receptionists so they told my dad to have me come in. So I did.


From there I was hired as a service coordinator aka “receptionist.” At this point it was by far the best job I had to date and I liked it. I had no idea how I’d survive in an environment filled with stylists and clients and retail and so many females!  But it shaped my work ethic in a unique way and really changed my life. After working there for a year or so I thought it was time to really decide what I was going to do with my life and stick to it.  So I applied to the University of Minnesota for journalism and philosophy and I got accepted. I was going to be a writer. Then things started to get very real with applying for financial aid and registering for orientation and then classes. It was at that moment that my friends, family, and coworkers all seemed to simultaneously ask me “why don’t you just do hair?”  I hadn’t ever thought about it seriously, but I really noticed a pattern in the guidance and council these people in my life were giving me. I realized, this pattern I’ve been in of starting something by hoping I’d like it and then giving up on it because I really disliked it, probably wouldn’t have ended just because I was going to be at a major university.  So it sounds crazy and maybe it was a little bit., but I took a leap of faith and decided to go to the Aveda Institute for cosmetology.  Within a week I cancelled my enrollment at the University and signed up at Aveda.


Hair school was a turning point in my life. It was extremely difficult but it was the first thing I finished entirely since high school, I met the girl I eventually married, earned a career, and now I’m here. Here I am with an adventure ahead of me that I am so ready to take. If these few instances taught me anything it’s that life is filled with grace that seemingly comes from nowhere. But it doesn’t come from nowhere, it comes with purpose and love. It comes from God, and through this adventure I hope his kingdom is glorified and that I become a better steward and servant of love with each mistake I make and each client I get in my chair. It’s all for a reason and by golly hopefully someday I get to know some of those reasons. 



Thanks for reading 🙂



IndieGoGo! We need your support!


Mike and I have been putting everything we have into this exciting (and scary) dream, but we need more help!  We have decided to join IndiGoGo to help fun the equipment we will need for our salon, that we would otherwise not be able to afford.  

What is IndieGoGo?

IndieGoGo is a site that helps projects get funded.  What we love about it is that it’s not just people GIVING us their money, they get something awesome in return!  Check out the awesome perks that you get for donating!
Another important aspect to IndieGoGo is that if we reach our goal ($8,000) they will only take 4%, but if we don’t raise our goal they take 9%, So we need reach our goal by September 1st!!!

What Can YOU do?
Choose a perk you like, and support us at that amount! ALSO, please tell anyone you know who would be interested in helping us start Steller Hair Company!  This is way more than just about hair, a cool salon, and cool stuff.  This is about making someone feel amazing and cared for, this is about giving someone a place where they can feel a part of something.

Our goal on IndieGoGo is to raise $8,000, but in reality we actually need a lot more than that. So the more we raise, the better set up our salon will be (we would love to be able to afford a washer and dryer for our towels).  The reason we set our goal where we did was so that we could have an attainable amount (Even though in itself it is a huge goal), so we will feel blessed with whatever we can raise! 

Thank you again everyone! I PROMISE I will stop posting so many blogs 🙂

Much love,
Katie and Mike

CHECK IT OUT!!!! http://igg.me/p/163927?a=833105

What to Expect from this Blog

What to expect from this blog:
We will be posting weekly, each post will go into more detail on specific aspects of our salon PLUS our newest updates.  

Our “timeline” of posts will be:
-IndiGoGo and Fundraising (How you can be involved)
-Music (The details on how we will incorporate music into our salon)
-Community (what does this mean? Different opportunities, ex. Hair Parties)
-LOGO (Our image is currently being worked on and we are so excited to launch it!)
-Products and Color Line (More details on what we will be using)
-Aveda Students (We have something special for you, if you were our student OR if you have a student ID)
-Website Launch/Online Booking (We are super excited to tell you more about this!) 
-Renovations (See inside details on our build out!)

I’m sure we will think of more to add to this, and if there is an aspect of our salon you would like us to go into more detail on PLEASE email us at Imagestellerhaircompany@gmail.com 

We are so thankful for all of you and your support! Please continue to tell friends and family about us!    

Much love,

What we are ABOUT!

Hi Everyone!
We are EXCITED to announce that Steller Hair Company will officially be open for business this fall!

LOCATION: 2901 University Ave W. Saint Paul MN 55114

We have created this blog to keep YOU updated on the remodeling of our space, new and exciting things we are doing, as well as how you can be involved (how about coming to get your hair done by us, for starters!).

This salon has been in the works for quite some time now, and we are learning as we go how to start a business the right way.  We are so incredibly passionate about what we are doing, that its been so hard not to talk about it!  BUT NOW WE CAN!!   In this first post I am going to just give you a quick oveview of our dreams for this salon as well as the exciting new things we are introducing to the hair industry.

If you don’t know us, Mike and I met at the Aveda Institute when we were both students.  From there, we dated, got married and have 2 beautiful (great dane) children.  We are both extremely passionate about the art of hair as well as the service that it provides for our clientel.  Caring for people is our number one priority.  We have both worked is salons, as well as taught at the Aveda Institute.  The experiences that we have gone through have defined the type of people, and hairstylists we are now.  We love eachother and love hair, so this is going to be a good time 🙂

OUR MISSION: is to use our passion and talent to care for people. From modern hair with a classic foundation, to creating a welcoming environment that encourages a tight knit community.

It is most important to us that we are accessible to anyone and everyone. For that reason alone, we are commited to having reasonable prices, because hair grows back.   We would rather be extremely busy at a lower price point, and be able to bless people with amazing hair without breaking the bank, instead of being less busy at overly-expensive prices.

-We want to offer a space that is non-pretentious and encourages community.
-We are a business that puts our employees and clients first.
-We will be offering different opportunities for people to get their hair done, if they can’t afford our prices (everyone should be able to have amazing hair)
-We focus on the whole person, not just the hair.
-This is our mission and our calling, so you know we are putting everything we have into making this business bless whoever walks through our doors.

Another exciting aspect to our salon that will set us apart is music.  Each month we will be featuring a different local music artist. We will hang their artwork, play their music, share their story.  At the end of each month we will have a small acoustic concert featuring that artist.  We have an immense love for music and want to encourage new artists as well as bring the excitement of local music to our guests, who might otherwise not hear it!

We will be carrying Number 4 as our product line.  Number 4 is 100% vegan, gluten free, sodium chloride free, sulfate free, and paraben free. We wanted a product line that would reflect our mission (caring for people) down to what our guests put on their skin.  Not only is this product line healthy for our consumers, it is also exclusive.  Only one other salon in Minnesota carries number 4, so our guests will have to come back to us to buy more, versus going to another salon.  This product line is extremely successful on the west coast and is just now hitting the Midwest, which makes it the new trend. Please check it out at http://www.number4hair.com/

Come get your hair done!!! That is definitely to biggest way to support us! But since we aren’t up and running yet, we could use your help in another way.
We have launched an IndieGoGo to raise money for our equipment and start up.  The cool thing about raising money this way is that you will be getting something in return (free haircuts, colors, styles, tshirts, concert tickets, cds etc). So it is more of an investment in our business then just giving us your money 🙂  www.indiegogo.com/stellerhairco

This is just a BRIEF overview of what we are doing, so keep checking back for more details!  Thank you already for even being interested in us!

Katie and Mike