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A Cut Above: A Pro Stylist Shares Her Vision

Forest & Bluff Magazine

Lake Forest's Tiara Salon owner on family ties, her passion for style, and making people look and feel their absolute best.

For expert stylist Kristina Paunovic, it started young. "I grew up in a salon," she says. "My grandparents were beauty school instructors and it's where my parents met." My mother worried I chose beauty as my career because so much of my family had been a part of it. But I followed beauty because I truly love it."

Answering the creative call, she spent time in Europe, returning to Chicago - working in her family's salon until opening her own. Today, she is the force behind Tiara - her salon on Western Avenue in Lake Forest, a location she's been in for nearly a decade. "I've been a part of fabric of the the North Shore for the last 20 years," Kristina explains. "I just love the people and the atmosphere here. It's also why I've been with a lot of my team since the start. We all feel the same way and share a similar vision."

Fueled by her entrepreneurial dynamism and creative zeal, Tiara is much more than a place to get your hair done. Kristina has designed the salon to be a place to relax and rejuvenate - offering comprehensive beauty services ranging from precision cuts and (corrective) color, makeup, waxing, nails, skincare, facials and massage - her team serves both men and women of all ages, including children, bridal and spa parties.

"I really think it makes a difference that I'm not just an investor in Tiara," she says, discussing her day to day in the salon. "Working behind the chair, as my other stylists do, I'm always honing my craft. Our environment is very collaborative." she adds. "There's nothing I love more than turning on the music at Tiara in the morning and settling into my day. My goal is to always make this salon relaxing for everyone who enters."

While Paunovic keeps a close eye on trends, she is more about a personal approach. "I always keep up on new products, cuts and colors that are being taught and celebrity looks - but our business is all about creating the most custom solution for our clients. "I talk with my clients to find what's best for them—not because it might be trendy, but because it's what works, and what makes them feel and look their best."

One of the things that Kristina relishes about owning her own salon is the luxury of time. "I think there is a lot of pressure to move people quickly through their styling or treatments when you're part of a large chain of salons," she says. "Here, we never want people to feel rushed. Sometimes that takes time, and we always make that for our clients."

As far as Tiara Salon's namesake, Kristina says she on how she knew it was the right moniker for her shop, "We treat everyone who walks through our doors like royalty."

Tiara Salon is located at 1385 N. Western Avenue in Lake Forest, 847-234-8211, tiarasalon.com.

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