January 23, 2022
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Longtime friends open beauty salon on 55th Street – Hyde Park Herald

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Growing up in Rockford, Leah Lambert often traveled to Hyde Park in the summer to visit her aunt.

“We’d always come up here and then we’d eat dinner and go to Michigan City. We’d come up here and hang out at Navy Pier and go to the little Hyde Park festivals and just hang out and take the number 6 bus downtown,” Lambert recalled. 

She moved to the neighborhood in 2015, and now she and LaToya Brownlee, her longtime friend, are putting down even more permanent roots: This August, they opened Hyde Park Beauty and Body, 1709 E. 55th St., a new beauty salon in the eastern end of the neighborhood. 

The store is part of a small business boom in the area — it’s a couple of doors down from The Allure boutique, 1703 E. 55th St., which opened this past spring, and new sandwich shop Unbeatable Eatables, 1744 E. 55th St., is a few blocks closer to the lake. 

Lambert and Brownlee grew up together, and both ended up pursuing careers in the beauty industry. Their new shop is a beauty salon that also offers teeth whitening and body sculpting, as well as a range of aesthetic services.



Items by COUTURE NOIR 




A big part of the business consists of non-invasive cosmetic surgery procedures. According to Lambert, more people have been getting work done during the COVID-19 pandemic because they are working from home and able to travel more.

Lambert says that demand is a big part of the reason why they opened the business. “If you see all the places around here, after 5 or 6, you can’t really get an appointment or get in anywhere,” said Lambert. She says there’s lots of professionals around the area that don’t get off work until 5 p.m. and shouldn’t have to take a day off of work to get their hair done or get waxed.   

Lambert attended Tricoci University of Beauty Culture and Brownlee attended Naperville Skin Institute. With a friendship that has lasted for 20 years, the two figured it was a good idea to go into business together. 

Brownlee still works at a full-time job in Aurora, but comes to the shop to service customers who may have late appointments. 

During last year’s quarantine period, both Lambert and Brownlee took further steps to act on their dream of working in the beauty industry. Lambert discovered the benefits of body contouring and post-op lymphatic services, completing her certification in that area in 2020.

Brownlee began the online boutique Couture Noir in 2018. Through it, she sold accessories, skin care items, makeup and lifestyle items. She hosted pop-up events to sell the items in person, but was not able to do so once the pandemic hit.

“I can thank Leah for pushing for me to get motivated to create and restart Couture Noir. She brought the realization of having a home for my baby,” said Brownlee.

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Source: https://www.hpherald.com/news/business/longtime-friends-open-beauty-salon-on-55th-street/article_3d5ec4d8-3d78-11ec-a3ec-eb7036d790ca.html

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