Jim Koktavy of Root Salon had his eye on Wayzata for decades. In the 1980s, as a young stylist, he interviewed for a job at an upscale salon that was popular at the time. The owner looked at Koktavy’s blue hair and black nail polish. “He said, ‘You are too ambitious for our area,’” he says. “I just didn’t look the Wayzata part. I don’t know why, but it always stuck with me.”
Fast-forward 30 years and the blue hair and black nail polish clearly didn’t stick. Sporting a black button down shirt and salt and pepper hair, Koktavy is now the owner of Root Salon, which he opened 14 years ago in St Paul. The Wayzata location on Lake Street opened its doors in January.
“Wayzata is the ‘it’ spot right now,” Koktavy says. “There are a lot of opportunity out here that people don’t realize.”
Root’s philosophy of making sure clients are their authentic selves is what Koktavy believes sets it apart from other salons in the area.
“There are good salons in Wayzata. The authenticity we bring is unique,” he says. “We work on face shape, hair type and lifestyle. Just words, but if you sit down with someone and say, ‘Your face shape is this, your eyes are this, your nose is that and this is what we want to bring out and this is what we should take back. I know you said you want to look like X, but if you’re staying true to who you are, what your hair type is and what your lifestyle is going to dictate, this would be a better fit for you.’ Over the years, people sooner or later kind of let go. When they come in, it’s not, ‘I saw this in a magazine and I want to do this.’ It’s, ‘What do you want to do today, Jim?’”
That authenticity to self also transfers to his stylists, who are co-owners.
“Everyone has an equal share in it. They truly take some ownership,” he says. “The stylists operate the salon. We don’t have management. We clean the bathrooms. At the end of the year we do a profit sharing. Everybody gets to enjoy the process.”
He also believes in training the next generation of stylists.
“The name Root had absolutely nothing to do with your hair root. I think a lot of people connect the root and the hair color thing,” he says. “When I started the salon we hired everybody out of school and put them through an apprenticeship program. So we start at the root and grow them up.”
This is Peityn Otto’s third year working at Root. She is a graduate of their apprentice program. “It’s a cool opportunity to start here and grow,” Otto says.
Lizz Cavaleri started her apprenticeship in April and says Root’s program is a cut above the rest. “They only teach you so much in cosmetology school,” Cavaleri says. “A lot of salons don’t have a training program like this. This is properly laid out.”
Koktavy says hair is his life, and he’s glad to put so many young people on the same path he followed.
“I had three sisters. I was the only boy,” he says. “I didn’t graduate from high school. I didn’t go to college. [Hair styling] was a creative outlet and it just fit.”
701 E. Lake St. N., Suite 150, Wayzata