Combining natural elements with old-world charm, Rain Salon is an inviting oasis for Omaha, NE clients.
Photography: Bryce Bridges
On the edge of Little Italy and directly south of Omaha, NE’s historic Old Market district is Rain Salon, which opened in a new space in January 2012. After successfully running Rain Salon with three chairs, owners Daniel Weber and Joe Novotny decided it was time to expand. “We felt the stylists deserved a classy and sophisticated space to express their creativity,” Novotny says.
In search of the perfect location, the two stumbled upon a building established in the early 1900s that housed a raw 2,300-square-foot space with an original pressed tin ceiling complete with cornice and large medallions where grand chandeliers once hung. Exposed brick walls and concrete floors lend a rustic ambience and were the two elements that helped Novotny and Weber realize it was the right space. The building originally included a bakery and a retail center for visitors from the two historic train stations and hotel across the street. “The building pretty much sat vacant for 30 years, besides a few bars that only lasted a few years,” Novotny says. “Burlington Station is currently undergoing a major renovation and will become home to one of Omaha’s major local news stations. Union Station now houses the Durham Museum.”
In an area of town that has seen a resurgence of new apartments, condominiums, single-family homes and businesses, Rain Salon joins an array of eclectic, locally owned businesses, such as restaurants, craft cocktail bars and coffee shops. “There are million-dollar condos and hundred-thousand-dollar homes within blocks of each other,” Novotny says. “Omaha’s population is under half a million, so it’s not a huge city; from the suburban areas all the way to our downtown salon is a 15-minute drive, so clients are from all over the city as well as nearby neighborhoods,” Weber says.
In addition to 10 chairs, manned by 12 stylists, the salon offers a spa room for massage and esthetic services. Novotny brings 13 years of industry experience and grew up around hair; his mom ran a salon in the basement of their Omaha home. Weber, a self-employed contractor, was the force behind restoring the space and worked alongside the landlord’s contractors. Novotny and Weber designed the space together, sourcing replacement chandeliers to attach to the original medallions; installing track lighting; repairing and painting the tin ceiling; sealing the brick walls; installing dispensary cabinets and counter tops; and staining the concrete floors. The business partners added extra touches, such as potted bamboo and a painting by Novotny, for an overall simple and organic theme that expresses the name of the salon. “The building spoke for itself, and we wanted to keep it that way,” Novotny says. ✂ —Kristen Heinzinger