INA, Ill. – For four years, Natalie Burke styled celebrities for the Las Vegas red carpet and her talents now give locals a one-of-a-kind experience at her salon, Natalie Joseph's in McLeansboro. Rend Lake College put the scissors in her hand.
Burke attended RLC’s art program from 2005-07, and then chose to continue her education at Studio RLC – at the time a Paul Mitchell Partner School – where she graduated in 2008. The McLeansboro native said she chose to return to Studio RLC because of its reputation.
“Rend Lake was close to home, but I chose Studio RLC because it was a Paul Mitchell School, and I always loved Paul Mitchell products,” said Burke. “I learned my professionalism at Studio RLC because it’s a high-end school where education is very important. I also learned about the culture, not just about hair, and I’ve carried those lessons with me my whole career.”
Burke added she keeps those same skills in mind while running the day-to-day operations of her own salon.
“I still carry the professionalism I learned at Studio RLC with me in my career,” said Burke. “Even the simple things, like a dress code and how to act around customers. I still recommend it to everyone. I’ve only hired people to work at Natalie Joseph’s who have come from that school because I do know how they act and what they know.”
Even while she attended Studio RLC, Burke said it was her dream to move west. In addition to the education, she said the instructors, specifically Studio RLC Director Daphne Mitchell, helped guide her in the right direction.
“I love Daphne. She always encouraged me with my dream of getting out of school and going to the west coast. She never told me I couldn’t do it,” said Burke. “Now that I’ve returned home, I have been a guest speaker at Studio RLC and the staff there is wonderful.”
In Las Vegas, Burke owned the Natalie Burke Salon where she worked in her salon by herself during the week and as a freelance cosmetologist on the weekends, focusing on events and celebrities. After four years, Burke decided to move home and brought the ideas and skills she learned in Nevada with her to Natalie Joseph’s.
“Right now we have 10 employees and our first day was May 3, 2014, so we’re just over a year old,” said Burke. “I moved back here and started using the knowledge from traveling to create an atmosphere that I love. I lived in Las Vegas for four years, and it’s completely different there.”
Some of the differences from a typical Southern Illinois salon are subtle, but others can be noticed when first walking through the doors at Natalie Joseph’s.
“We focus on customer service, starting with when the customer comes into the salon,” said Burke. “We start with wine or fruit-infused water in our robe room, and then we have a shampooing room with dim light and soft music, and we have a team who works with massages and blow-drying hair to help our clients feel relaxed and comfortable. It’s the only salon like it in Southern Illinois.”
Once Burke and her employees iron out logistics for the current salon, she said she’s looking forward to staying in the area and expanding.
“My future plans are to stay here, because I love Southern Illinois, and I want to open up more salons in the area,” said Burke. “I think it’s cool for people around here to experience the salon I’ve created, because it’s about the whole experience. Some of our clients travel for four hours to get here. I probably have 500 clients, but my other employees have between 300 and 400 each. We’re always swamped, but we work hard to make sure every customer leaves happy.”
Outside of typical salon services, Burke also works with permanent make-up tattoos, such as eyeliner and eyebrows; techniques she learned from continuing her education in Florida. Overall, Burke said her salon is focused on customer service and providing a unique experience to everyone in Southern Illinois and beyond.
“It’s not about hair at Natalie Joseph’s, it’s about the attention to detail, every single day; it’s everything, it’s customer service,” said Burke. “We want to make our customers feel good.”
To learn more about Natalie Joseph’s, contact Burke at 618-308-7112 or visit the salon, located at 408 West Randolph Street in McLeansboro. Natalie Joseph’s also has a Facebook page. For more information about Studio RLC, contact Mitchell at 618-437-5321, Ext. 2031.