Business is booming

From salon services to wellness coaching, shops of all sorts will open their doors this summer in Bristol

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

A few months ago, Bristol Borough gained a new sense of purpose. After winning the Small Business Revolution and a $500,000 grant, Deluxe Corporation helped completely revamp the local business district with renovations and marketing seminars. Though the final phase of the revolution took place earlier this month, Bristol is just getting started with several new businesses slated to open their doors this summer.

At 113 Pond St., right off of Mill, Heather MacKenzie can be found putting the finishing touches on her quaint but modern Luxe Specialty Salon. With a white flower in her hair and perfectly winged eyeliner despite the humidity outside, she looks right at home among the makeup brushes and hair products. Luxe isn’t just any old neighborhood salon. It’s full-service, which means customers can get their hair, makeup, airbrush tan, eyelashes and eyebrows done all in one place.

Stylish services: Luxe Speciality Salon, 113 Pond St. in Bristol, is a full service salon that offers hair, makeup, eyebrows and airbrush tan services. Pictured are owner Heather MacKenzie (front) and makeup and hair stylist Shannon (back). SAMANTHA BAMBINO / TIMES PHOTO

Though Luxe has been open for about six weeks with a steady stream of customers, the grand opening will take place July 7, which coincides with the upcoming First Fridays event. Samples of the products used in the salon will be available, and guests can book appointments and meet MacKenzie, the lead stylist, and Shannon, who specializes in makeup and hair.

This is Luxe’s first and only location, though MacKenzie would love to expand throughout Bucks County in the future. As a native of Fairless Hills, the central, small business hub of Bristol seemed like the perfect spot to grow her business.

“It was a 25th birthday present to myself,” MacKenzie said. “I wanted to create a place where women can come and get everything done.”

Luxe started in 2015 as a consultative service, specializing in bridal makeovers. MacKenzie always felt extremely honored to be the one making them feel special on their big day, and giving them that “full on glow.” Though this is her first physical salon, she has been exposed to the world of cosmetology since childhood, learning closely from her mother who was a cosmetologist for 30 years.

MacKenzie officially signed the lease on May 5, and the only thing missing is some artwork for the walls, which she says should be arriving soon. Overall, she’s looking forward to being a part of modern-day Bristol and the borough’s revamp. Appointments can be booked online at luxespecialty.com. In addition to its services, Luxe will host monthly makeup classes for $35 each. Attendees will learn tips and tricks on how to achieve that red carpet ready lipstick, how to apply strip lashes and how to get the perfect winged eyeliner.

Only a minute’s walk from Luxe will transport shoppers into the serene world of Noble Earth. Located at 212 Mill St., large rustic wooden chairs and brick walls can be seen through the large shop windows. Owner Joe Rakowski has been working to get his business up and running for some time, and though some final renovations are needed, Noble Earth’s grand opening will also take place July 7 during First Fridays.

Rakowski’s mission is to provide locals with education on self care and well-being through wellness coaching, in-person and long distance sessions, therapeutic massages and various herbs and teas.

Originally from Bucks County, Rakowski moved to California but promptly returned in 2014 due to the death of a parent. After taking custody of his nephew, he knew he was going to be on the East Coast for awhile.

“I figured if I’m going to stay here, I might as well invest,” he said.

Rakowski was initially brought to the 212 Mill St. location by a family member who was a real estate agent. The space used to be a doctor’s office, but hadn’t been touched in more than 40 years. While most would shy away, he was up for the challenge.

“I immediately saw an empty canvas,” he said.

The lease was signed in July 2016, and renovations have been taking place ever since with a lot of “blood, sweat and tears.” The entire space, built in 1901, was completely gutted, with hidden windows and doors discovered every so often. All of the shelves and furniture placed in Noble Earth are all-natural and made from local Pennsylvania wood. As far as the organic Kombucha teas and items for purchase in the shop, they will all be made locally or in-house as well.

The interest in holistic health and herbalism came from Rakowski’s own health issues. In the early ’00s, he weighed more than 300 pounds. But in 2002, after being introduced to organic foods and vegetarianism by a friend, he immediately set out to turn his life around.

During the following years, Rakowski moved to Arizona, where he studied native medicinal traditions, and also spent some time in India and Canada to truly hone his craft.

On July 7, guests can expect live music from guitarist friends of Rakowski, special exotic teas and a sale to kick off the grand opening of this unique, calm space. For more information, visit nobleearth.net.

Other businesses are in the works as well: Healthy Plate Meal Prep, at 247 Mill St., will open soon; Itri Wood Fired at 310 Mill St., Odd Logic Brewing Co. at Radcliffe Street and The Beauty Shop at Market Street are still under construction but are making great progress. ••