An Ardmore native has returned to the fold with fresh ideas for the future.
Laramie Bartgis, a Plainview High School graduate, said he always wanted to do hair. “My parents strongly encouraged me to go to college,” Bartgis said. So he did.
“I moved to Oklahoma City and went to OCCC,” Bartgis said. “Epically failed at that, because my heart wasn’t in it.”
Bartgis briefly moved back to Ardmore, then moved to Austin. “I just needed a change of scenery,” Bartgis said. In Austin, Bartgis began taking steps toward his dream. “I enrolled in hair school at a Vidal Sasson school, the Avenue 5 Institute.” Within a few short weeks of graduating from school, Bartgis placed in the top seven at the North American Wella Trend Vision Awards, a competition that included stylists from all over the United States and Canada. Bartgis also competed the following year and was in the semi-finals.
He then took an apprenticeship position at a top Austin salon. After a year there, Bartgis started picking up his own clients.
“I came home with the intention to visit,” Bartgis said. “Then Julie and Tim Longest approached me. They wanted me to be part of their historical arts district in Ardmore.” Bartgis was open to the idea — then he fell in love with the property the Longests showed him. That property is now the home of Sunkissed Solstice Salon on Broadway, just west of North Washington. “Everything has just fallen into place as soon as I decided to follow my dream.”
Bartgis already had a client base waiting when he returned to Ardmore. “There were people who had followed my journey on social media,” Bartgis said. “I had people who’d ask me to do their hair when I would visit family here from Austin.” Through word of mouth and social media, Bartgis said he has steadily built a steady clientele downtown.
“Social media plays a big part of staying on top of trends,” Bartgis said. “I also have reps with the companies I work with who help keep me informed of new things. People come to me to know what’s in style.”
Bartgis said beachwaves, bedhead and the boho bob are really popular in Ardmore. “The silver trend is still really popular here, too,” Bartgis said.
Helping people look and feel their best is Bartgis’ mission. “Doing hair is therapeutic for me. It’s an art form,” Bartgis said. “I assess every client differently. You take into account face shape, their style, their hair growth and pattern — every single client is a different artistic piece.” Bartgis said his job is never boring because it’s always something new.
“I’ve gained clients who drive here from Ada,” Bartgis said. “That is a little bit humbling. They’re driving an hour to an hour and a half to get a hair cut.” Bartgis said he’s also had people drive up from Austin for him as well. “They get a hotel room and everything,” Bartgis said. “People have told me they’re glad I’ve come here so that they can get a taste of something that’s outside of Ardmore.”
Bartgis said his strong suit is color, and the avant-garde, editorialized updos like the one that earned him a spot as a semifinalist in the North American Wella Trends Awards. “One thing I do that’s somewhat a signature of mine is an Olaplex perm. It’s not your granny’s perm,” Bartgis said. “It’s a beach wave, messy head perm that gives you that ‘I woke up like this’ look.” The difference, Bartgis said, is the Olaplex bond sustainer that helps protect the hair from being damaged. His is one of the few salons in the region that offers the service. “When people think perm, they think hard noodle hair, and that’s not the case.”
Aside from offering services tailored to each client, Bartgis said he has changed the language in how he describes his services, removing gendered language. Instead of men’s and women’s cuts, they’re now categorized as a haircut, which includes precision shampoo, precision cutting, styling and blow drying, or a clipper haircut, which doesn’t require precision cutting but also includes styling and blow drying. Bartgis said it’s important to him that everyone feels welcome at his business.
“I really feel like it’s a space where anyone and everyone can walk in and feel welcomed,” Bartgis said. “I’ve had more than one person tell me they feel like we’re best friends after they come here. I don’t shake hands, I give hugs.” Bartgis said he sits down and talks with each client before starting on their hair. “I’m very truthful,” Bartgis said. “If somebody is wanting something that’s not going to work out, I’m up front about it.”
Bartgis said his goal is to help everyone find themselves — and some happiness.