Home > Business, Entrepreneurial, Old Market, Omaha, Troy Davis, Writing > The Troy Davis Story: From Beyond the Fringe to Fringes Salon

The Troy Davis Story: From Beyond the Fringe to Fringes Salon


Star hair designer Troy Davis of Omaha was amazingly forthcoming and transparent in an interview he did with me for this Encounter Magazine profle I wrote about him a few years ago.  As a fellow 12-stepper I know something of what he speaks.  I know the courage and conviction it requires to be this honest about the hurt and the healing.  His words and his story are bound to help someone else.  He’s best known for his work at Fringes Salon.

 
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The Troy Davis Story: From Beyond the Fringe to Fringes Salon                                        Story by Leo Adam Biga ©Photos by Bill Sitzmann                                                                Originally appeared in Encounter Magazine

 

Leading Omaha hair dresser Troy Davis long ago showed an educational and entrepreneurial knack for his craft and for building the Edgeworthy brand at Fringes Salon & Spa in the Old Market. Now that his mentor and longtime business partner, Fringes founder Carol Cole, has sold her interest in the location, he has a new partner and a new focus on managing costs. The result is record profitability.

“Fringes of the Old Market is the busiest and healthiest it’s ever been,” says Davis, who’s made Fringes an Omaha Fashion Week fixture.

“Troy and Fringes have been a very important part of Omaha Fashion Week, as they style many of our veteran designers and constantly impress with their ability to interpret the latest hair and makeup trends on our runway,” says OFW producer Brook Hudson.

Davis is glad to share in the success. He’s lately seen members of the Fringes team represent well in a recent competition and awards show. Never content to stay put, his Clear Salon Services business is a new generation, grassroots distributorship for independent hair care brands.

These professional triumphs have been happening as Davis addresses personal problems that “came to a head” last August but that have their roots in the past. Growing up in Blair, Neb., he began drinking and using drugs to mask the sexual identity issues he confronted as a gay teen in an environment devoid of alternative lifestyles.

“I felt so completely isolated. I lived in fear so badly that I hid it with drinking and weed,” he says.

A healthier form of self-expression he excelled in, speech and drama, seemed a likely direction to pursue out of high school. But first he moved to Omaha to experience the diversity he craved back home. He briefly attended Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, even landing the lead in the school’s fall production, before dropping out to attend beauty school in Omaha.

 
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From their first meeting Davis and Cole knew they’d found a new best friend they could grow in their chosen field alongside. She says she immediately responded to his “passion and energy and drive,” adding, “Troy Davis has definitely made me a better person and stylist and leader.”

Within four years he’d proven to be such a trusted asset that Cole partnered with him in opening the Old Market shop.

“He earned that,” she says. “He just really wanted to be downtown. His heart was there. I finally said, ‘Look, if you want to be a partner, I’ll do it, but you’re going to have to step it up and find a location.’ And he did. I have to give him a lot of credit because he put a lot of grunt work into it to get it started.”

The rest is history, as Fringes became a presence in the Old Market for its ultra-contemporary, urban styles and high-end hair care and beauty services. Cole let him run things there so she could concentrate on the West Dodge site.

For Davis, Cole’s been more than just a business partner.

“Carol and I are so close. We just absolutely click,” he says. “She’s a very intelligent, very professional business woman. There’s not a lot of partnerships that make it. In a lot of ways our relationship is like a marriage, only platonic. I think it’s healthier or better than most marriages I know of. We are able to communicate in a way that most people are not. We can say anything to each other and even if it’s something that ends up hurting each other, we know that’s not our intention. Usually it’s one of us misunderstanding something and we’re always able to go back and clean it up.”

Davis has moved fast in the industry. While still in his 20s he became one of 10 international creative team members for Rusk, a role that saw him flown all over the world to teach other hair dressers the use of the international distributor’s products. He worked in the Omaha salon during the week and jetted around on weekends.

It gave him the stage, the lights, the theatrics he felt called to. It also meant lots of money and partying.

All the while, his addictions progressed.

 
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He was prepping for the always stressful Omaha Fashion Week last summer when he and his life partner split for good. Amidst the breakup, the all-nighters, running his businesses, and leading an online advocacy campaign for a Fringes team that showed well in the national Battle of the Strands competition, Davis crashed.

“By the time I hit bottom I was drinking every day and drinking to black out three days a week and, you know, it just had to end. I finally realized I am an alcoholic. It was a real wake up call.”

He’s now actively working a 12-step program.

“It’s definitely helped me get sober. I definitely thank my Higher Power for the strength I’ve had to get where I am today.”

He’s not shy sharing his ups and downs.

“I’ve always been a very honest and open person. I’ve actually shared publicly via Facebook some of my bottoms and what I’ve learned in my treatment. In order to achieve something you need support in your life and there is a connection through Facebook with family and friends that I think is very useful. I see it as an opportunity to share with them what I’m going through and the choices I’m making for myself.”

He calls his 12-step group “a new addition to my family,” adding, “They’re great people.” Like many addicts he’s replaced his former addictions for a couple new, blessedly benign ones – Twitter and tattoos.

As his recovery’s progressed he’s grown in other ways, too, including taking charge of his Fringes store’s finances.

“It’s absolutely the best thing that could have happened for this business. It’s given me a whole new level of accountability. I see things more clearly and because of that we’ve broken through a plateau we were never able to get past.”

He credits new business partner Sarah Pithan, a former assistant, for helping increase business by more than $4,000 a week. He also credits the “amazing team” he and Pithan have cultivated, including Omar Rodriguez, Kristina Lee and Teresa Chaffin, for taking Fringes and Clear Salon Services to new levels.

Visit http://www.fringessalon.com.

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  1. December 27, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Hey, fascinating article!
    I love the idea of this blog, about telling other people’s stories! How do you decide who’s story to tell from week to week?

    Like

    • December 28, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks. The stories here start off almost exclusively as print stories assigned me by Omaha area publications I regularly contribute to. So, in other words, either I come up wih the subject matter myself and pitch it to editors or editors come up with the subject matter and pitch me. I’m a working journalist, and so naturally I approach the subjects I’m writing about and ask to interview them, and that’s how it works.

      Like

      • December 28, 2012 at 3:18 pm

        Okay, quick question while I’m being nosy.
        I’m a commercial freelance writer (business) but I’m trying to build up more income streams so I can end my day job…did you just approach the editors and say I have a great idea, you should let me write for your paper, or did they contact you?
        I’ve given several of my local papers a call, but gotten nothing back…
        Sincerely,
        The Curious Journalist-To-Be

        Like

      • December 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm

        Well, I have a track record of 25 years doing this, so my situation is quite a bit different than yours. Sometimes I generate the story ideas and sometimes they do. It just depends. Most of the publications I contribute to I have years of experience with. The know and trust my work. Starting out, as in your case, you just have to keep plugging away until you find one that bites and gives you an assignment.

        Like

      • December 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm

        Thanks!
        Keep working until it pays off…I should frame that saying above my rickety desk and make it my mantra. Advice like that never goes out of style.
        Thanks for helping a fledgling writer! “It’s the most successful who are the kindest to beginners.”

        Like

  1. January 19, 2013 at 1:44 am
  2. January 24, 2013 at 3:24 am

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