Cosmetologist Terri Collinsworth has been satisfying customers looking for hair, skin and massage services for three decades.
“I’m real freehand,” she said. “I love texture. I love using all my tools — razor, texture, scissors, point cutting. I love to cut hair. I love doing makeovers. I love making someone come in feeling one way and they leave feeling like a whole new person.”
Specializing in cuts and color, her philosophy is to take full advantage of the tools available to her.
“When you use the right tools, the hair can grow out really nice,” she said.
After 30 years in the business, Collinsworth has become not only a seasoned professional but also a mature woman who understands the needs and concerns of other mature women.
“Mature women feel like they don’t have choices but they do,” she said. “I find that mature women are wanting more change but they don’t know what they want or how to ask for it, and they kinda rely on somebody who’s also in their age group to help them with that.. They’re often stuck in a rut and it just takes a little different way of weighing the hair or trimming it.”
Collinsworth also does eyebrow and lip waxing, but recently she’s seen an uptick in requests for dermaplaning services.
Dermaplaning is a process of exfoliating the skin by lightly scraping it with a razor to remove dead skin and the fine, small hairs commonly known as peach fuzz.
“The actual moisturizer will adhere to your skin and make your moisturizer work much better,” she said.
In late May, Collinsworth moved her station to jeffrey.benjamin.hair, located inside The Landing, a historic neighborhood and commercial district in downtown Fort Wayne.
“I love the location at the Landing,” she said. “It’s very fun. It’s open. And I love Jeffrey’s thinking on running a salon. He’s very committed to letting each stylist be their own person. Everyone’s an artist. Everyone’s doing their own thing and I love that he really enforces that.”
The owner of the salon, Jeffrey Benjamin Ptak, is a 40-year-old New York native who first came to Fort Wayne at the age of 18 to attend IPFW. He played volleyball for the school and then went on to play professionally overseas for the next 15 years. When he was 37, he retired from professional sports and got his cosmetologist license.
“I’ve been doing hair since I was 12 years old,” he said. “I went into barber shops and salons when I was a kid and saw people get to create cool shit all day long and that’s what I wanted — to be able to have my own.”
When he was ready to open his own salon, he had the opportunity to grab a spot in The Landing, his old stomping ground from college.
“The Landing is rad,” he said. “I used to go to Columbia Street. I used to go to Benson’s next door. I used to go to Downtown and then it became Flashbacks. It was always a really cool part of Fort Wayne.”
Ptak has chosen the Evo line of products to use and sell at the salon. Based in Australia, Evo is vegan, all natural, gluten-free and non-soy. His salon is the only place in Fort Wayne that carries it.
“My mentor, my old instructor, his name is Chad Ellis, suggested Evo to me,” he said. “He said, ‘it’s you in a bottle. It’s funny. It’s smart-ass. It’s straight-up real.’ I tried all these different product lines out and went back to Evo and said, ‘Absolutely, this is what I’m using.’”
His vision for the salon “is to be a rad place to create cool hair,” he said. “I want an atmosphere where everyone has a good time. I want everyone to have fun. As long as you do your job well and you make your clients happy, I just want to be a cool atmosphere.”
One of the cool things Ptak has planned is hosting art shows.
“Every city I’ve played in overseas as a professional athlete, I would go to their art museums and their salons to get ideas,” Ptak said. “I always wanted a place that was like an urban industrial art museum that’s a salon too. It’s naturally a cool place to showcase local artists.”
Ptak plans to host artist receptions every three months, and he does not charge artists to display their work. The walls of the salon currently feature the abstract oil paintings of Thomas J. Leffers.
jeffrey.benjamin.hair is located at 116 W. Columbia Street, between Harrison and Calhoun streets in Fort Wayne, Indiana. For more information, visit www.jeffreybenjaminhair.com or find them on social media @jeffrey.benjamin.hair. Follow Terri Collinsworth on Instagram at @terricolli.