Interview By Lindsey Lupfer
It’s hard to ignore the revitalization of businesses in downtown St. Cloud, thanks to an improved economy and efforts made by the city, St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce, and organizations like St. Cloud Main Street. But there’s also a new generation of entrepreneurs in town, and we wanted to know more, so we sat down to talk to a couple of friends who are finding innovative ways to build one another up in their businesses.
Meet Emilee Lanier, owner and licensed hairstylist at Studio EMVY, and Jeana Whaley, owner and fashion stylist at Pretty Rebellious Boutique (both located at 1104 New York Avenue, St. Cloud).
LL: You have two established businesses operating out of the same storefront. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Jeana: Emilee and I have been friends since high school. Both being in the beauty and styling business, we thought, Let’s make it a one-stop kind of place, since we have shared many of the same clients for years now. Our businesses are separate in ownership but share the same space.
LL: Cool. So, Emilee, you’re in charge of Studio EMVY?
Emilee: Yes. I am the only hairstylist currently, along with being the salon owner. So I’m making sure everything runs smoothly, answering calls/texts, and most importantly making sure everyone is leaving with that beautiful hair they asked for!
LL: What’s your favorite part about being a hairstylist?
Emilee: Man, I could go on and on about this, but my favorite thing is the confidence hair gives people. I always turn [my clients] away from the mirror. They don’t get to see their hair until I am completely done. The second I turn them around and they see their new hair for the first time, I get to see life brought back into their faces! They are smiling and playing with their hair, and they can’t believe they look the way they do.
LL: And then your happy customers can shop Pretty Rebellious on their way out! Jeana, what’s your day-to-day like with the boutique?
Jeana: I’m responsible for the whole shebang! Ordering new clothes for every week, keeping my Instagram page (@prettyrebelliousboutique) continuously updated. I’m always keeping things young, fresh, and stylish, of course!
LL: Pretty Rebellious has been around downtown St. Cloud for a while now. I’ve shopped there a time or two! What keeps you motivated at work?
Jeana: I’ve had my boutique now for almost seven years. Doing what your passion is and owning your own business at the same time means you have to be at it 24/7! It can be exhausting. The best part is that it is always changing, which keeps it exciting. If it’s what you love, it’s really never a struggle.
LL: Emilee, what would you say is your biggest challenge now that you’ve opened Studio EMVY?
Emilee: Well, my biggest struggle is being a single mother and a businesswoman, and trying to balance running a business along with raising a child. It hasn’t been easy. We just take it day by day. I also do it with the help of my parents, my brother, Chris, and honestly all of my family. I’m very fortunate to have them. Plus, the struggles always make the reward that much sweeter. I am proud to be building a future for [my son] Caydan, and he’s my priority in everything!
LL: Jeana, you don’t have any kids, but you’re married, right?
Jeana: My husband Keith and I have been married since 2013. We have no children yet, but hope to in the future. We both are so involved with our jobs right now.
LL: Okay, let’s wrap things up with a question for both of you… What’s your favorite thing about doing business in downtown St. Cloud?
Emilee: I love how small the town is. You get that home-like feel everywhere you go!
Jeana: Let’s keep it as simple as I just love this town. It’s my home!