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Vixen brings Hollywood Blvd. to Division St.

Division Street’s Vixen Beauty Lounge gives women (and some men) Hollywood glamour in a sleek modern setting. Clients can flip through photos of pinups like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield while waiting for services.

Vixen not only offers a conventional array of haircut, color, and makeup services, but provides makeup lessons and bridal day-of services. “Everyone has a little vixen in them,” said owner Vanessa Vargas. “We believe in bringing that out.”

Photo: Eric Young Smith

“Everyone has a little vixen in them,” said beauty shop owner Vanessa Vargas. “We believe in bringing that out.”

Vargas and Melissa Sanchez initially went into business together on a mobile spa, while Vargas continued to operate her West Loop image-consulting business. They shared a love of the 50s-pinup look and wanted to create a space to celebrate “that old-time Hollywood feel,” said Vargas.

Sanchez first spotted the empty Division Street storefront, and they agreed it would be nice to locate halfway between downtown and the Northwest Side, where they live. “The neighborhood itself has changed dramatically” since they first spotted that storefront, noted Vargas. “I was really excited. I wanted to catch it before it was too late and I could no longer afford it.”

The location was a bit of a risk. First, would Vargas’ largely corporate clientele make the trek to Humboldt Park for her services? So far the answer has been a resounding yes. “Every single one of my clients followed me. They were all really comfortable,” Vargas noted proudly. “I think they feel a little edgy coming here."

Second, would the business grow and attract neighborhood clientele? The answer here to date is also yes, but going more slowly.

“I wouldn’t say we have a huge walk-in clientele,” Vargas said. “The neighborhood had to warm up to us. It took a little time to see what we were about.” These days, the wife of the owner of Coco’s – the restaurant next door – comes to get her hair done. Plus, “anyone who’s new to the area comes in right away,” she observed.

This spring, Sanchez moved on to new projects. While expanding Vixen’s staff and services, Vargas is already eyeing her next venture – a men’s spa. About a quarter of her current clientele is male. Her vision for the business is “a really updated version of a barbershop” offering not just haircuts, but image and wardrobe consulting.

After her successful experience launching a business in Humboldt Park, she predicted, “I think I will always start in an up-and-coming area.”

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