We had the good fortune of connecting with Lauren Arnke and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Lauren, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
When it comes down to it, I have to spend a lot of time unpacking whether what I am working on is in alignment with my values. My top 3 values are connection, ongoing learning, and integrity. If what I am spending time on is not contributing to one of these values, I find a way to frame what I have learned from the process, but put down the project. The time spent away either helps me to move on completely, or come back to the project with fresh eyes. 

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
In many ways, I consider myself an artist, but ultimately I consider myself a service expert. I find myself most at ease when I am helping my clients and co-workers solve problems. When I started the Aveda Institute in 2007, I had already been in the service industry for several years, and wanted to elevate my passion for people into a career that would allow me to expand exponentially. My first salon was the most intense and wonderful work experience of my life, and my wild 22-year old self really needed that structure. I couldn’t get enough of the education and the people. My whole life was the salon. But no, it was never easy. Hair did not come naturally to me, and I had to fight through some perfectionist tendencies until my hands could execute work that made me proud. When I realized it was time to move on from that company, leaving that salon meant leaving mentors, friends, and roles that I had cherished. It also indicated the end of the relationship I was in with my kids’ dad. He was a part of that salon organization, and being really clear about why I no longer aligned with that company also showed me that I could not grow in that relationship. Ending that part of my life was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I still grieve that collective loss. The last 5 years have been spent really deciding what I want to make of my life and career, and how I can continue to push my creative limits without necessarily being confined to working behind the chair. I spent so much time being uncomfortable and terrified, not knowing where to land, and not finding a space or a role I could commit to fully. Now in the last two years, it’s been all about trial and error, about investing in myself and my business, and about trying on a lot of different brands to figure out what exactly I was trying to create. What I hope sets me apart is attention to detail. And I don’t mean fluff and amenities. I mean remembering people beyond their names and jobs and how they wear their hair, but truly connecting with people and remembering their preferences, their worries, their stories. What makes them feel at home, feel seen, feel heard is what makes them happy to support my business and helps create a symbiotic relationship that is so much more valuable than “just a haircut”. I really pride myself on being authentic and educated in my industry, and I am so very excited to be starting to build a Coaching and Consulting practice. My current goal is to help other service-based professionals discover their full potential. For decades now, service has been based on saying “yes” to our guests, whether the request was reasonable or not. I am a firm believer that if service professionals are educated and empowered to run their businesses in integrity, then we should be guiding guests’ experiences and managing expectations in a sustainable way that works for everyone involved. The effect of great service culture doesn’t come from always saying “yes”, it comes from a mutual understanding of what is being offered, and following through in a way that exceeds guest expectations. That style of ownership is missing in the service industries, and I really think that confident providers is the best way to give guests an amazing experience.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
As someone who loves Denver, and has spent most of my adult life here, I would love to say I have endless advice about the great outdoors, but my experience of this city is definitely defined by the restaurant industry. With COVID-19 restricting where we can go, and how we experience dining out, I am reminded that my favorite places are the ones where I can really relax and trust the experience will be great. I have definitely geared my spending toward small business. A not-so-short list of my fave things include a day-trip to Boulder, a hike at Red Rocks, a downtown adventure, and an over-night in the mountains. I prefer things either relatively fancy, or super low-key. Some of my favorite fine dining restaurants are Bistro Vendome (anything by Crafted Concepts is going to be wonderful), Fruition (seriously flawless food and service), Cholon (I mean, the french onion soup dumplings are the perfect bite of food), and Tables (our current local fave for weeknight, outdoor dining). For more causal bites, I really like Welton Street Cafe (for Soul Food), Levan Deli, Little India, Thai Monkey Club, La Pasadita, or D’Corazon. Best brunch or new small-businesses are places like Brightmarten in Bonnie Brae, Sassafrass, and Shells and Sauce. We really love the Denver Zoo for family time because it’s so beautiful, and the Denver Zoo is ranked as one of the most humane zoos in the country. We love to head over to grab a beer and check on our animal friends. To be honest, walking the city is how I’ve spent a lot of my free time over the years. I think it’s so easy to explore any, or several, Denver neighborhoods in a day. On occasion, we like to head to Frisco for happy hour, dinner, and karaoke on an overnight. Interactive art has gotten more popular, and always a good way to mix it up. Shiki Dreams by Prismajic was a local favorite this year. I also like the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Denver Art Museum because they always seem to surprise me, especially as the art culture of Denver gets more traction. Last but far from least, we have a growing community of women and BIPOC businesses here in Denver, which is really important and exciting. For coffee, I love Coffee at the Point or Whittier Cafe. For clothes and accessories I head to The HairTique or Lawrence and Larimer. When I need to restock my healing supplies, I head to Alchemy Ritual Goods. And for gifts and all things humanitarian, I absolutely adore Hope Tank on S. Broadway. In addition to being in one of my favorite boutique shopping areas, Hope Tank puts so much good into the world. Erika and her team are truly committed to making the world a better place, and Denver needs more businesses to align with their vision of service and philanthropy.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My heart always goes straight to my children. I knew I wanted to be a Mother, but my parenting experience came about in a fairly unique way, and I can say that I wouldn’t have made some of my life’s most painful choices if it wasn’t for my desire to confront and break a lot of unhealthy relationship patterns in my life to model better choices for my kids. My partner, clients, and friends have really pulled through for me when I really didn’t believe I deserved it. Holding space for someone battling with themselves is a really special and invaluable kind of support. I learned that true service to others comes in having no expectations of them, but meeting them where they are. And my coaching cohorts over the years. I’ve spent time with a lot of really brilliant people I otherwise wouldn’t have known. I’ve learned that a single comment or conversation in the right place at the right time can be life changing. Everyone has something they can teach us.

Website: www.laurenadoeshair.com
Instagram: @lauren.a.does.hair
Linkedin: Lauren Arnke
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lauren.a.does.hair
Yelp: Lauren A. Does Hair
Other: Google My Business: Lauren A. Does Hair

Image Credits
Photos by: Me and Samantha Malach

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDenver is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.