Building a Legacy: Creative Hair Design Celebrates 40 Years

Success can be measured in many ways, but for longtime business owner John Mangiameli, founder of Omaha-based Creative Hair Design, triumph is found in helping employees meet their full potential — while also keeping client needs and community engagement in focus. Now marking 40 years of business, Mangiameli said his work is far from done.

Mangiameli has never been a stranger to the cosmetology industry. In a way, he was sort of born into the field as his father was also a talented local hairdresser. It was Mangiameli’s father who taught him the ins and outs of the industry at his salon before encouraging Mangiameli to set out on his own. After gaining experience at other salons, Mangiameli decided it was finally time to open his own studio in 1982.

“I thought I had wanted to go to college and study computers but following in my dad’s footsteps felt like the better option for me,” Mangiameli explained.

It turned out to be the right decision for Mangiameli, who has steadily grown his salon and spa in both size and offerings over the past four decades. Today, Creative Hair Design occupies 15,000 square feet, substantially surpassing its footprint of 1,200 square feet when first opening.

Trendsetting & Trailblazing

The business opened during an era when spas were still fairly uncommon. In fact, Mangiameli was ahead of the times, as he said spas didn’t begin to really develop until the following decade.

For Mangiameli, bringing new services and cutting-edge technology to the area is extremely important, and something he continues to focus on to this day. Located at 12025 Pacific St., the salon and spa offers hair, nail, esthetic, massage and special occasion services. One of the newest services offered at the salon and spa is the hydro facial.

Corporate, bridal or other group gatherings can also be accommodated and special packages are offered. The spa, which is all inclusive, features showers and steamers, including a Vichy shower (a large shower with a wet bed and overhead shower bar).

Additionally, a hydro tub imported from France is also available for guests.

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Over the years, trends have come and gone and even cycled back around, but Mangiameli said some things never change — like a good pair of shears.

“In this industry, there’s nothing original, it’s all been done before,” Mangiameli said. “From cuts to colors, to perms to texturizing, it seems like every 20 years something comes back around.

“However, I will say I’m still using the same shears, combs, and clippers that we’ve been using all these years. There’s been new developments, but I can say I don’t think I’ll ever see a robot doing hair in my lifetime, thankfully.”

Promoting Health and Beauty

Life can be stressful and busy, but making time for self-care is essential. From facials and dermaplanes to stone massages and exfoliation treatments, the spa offers everything needed for relaxation and rejuvenation, according to Mangiameli. A customized experience is important, as well, Mangiameli said, and services are tailored to meet the needs of each individual client.

Additionally, all technicians regularly update their skills with the latest knowledge in the industry and therapists are both nationally certified and licensed by the State of Nebraska. The business also carries several lines of products for every hair type to optimize hair potential and ensure every client’s needs are met.

Community Matters

Mangiameli isn’t shy about his love for the Omaha community, and he shows his appreciation through various efforts. For example, Creative Hair Design is involved with a number of organizations including Locks of Love, Chariots of Hope, and Angels Among Us.

The business has also participated in fundraising for Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and has taken part in the Aksarben Ball, which brings together Nebraska’s civic minded families for a night of celebration and recognition of the giving community while raising money to further the Aksarben mission.

To celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, Creative Hair Design gave back to its supportive community by giving away 40 prize packages valued at $250 each.

Culture is Everything

Long ago, Mangiameli vowed that he would not retire until one of his employees earned $1 million through their 401(k) profit sharing plan. Now, he said he has to revamp his promise to $1.2 million because employees are extremely close to hitting the original milestone and he’s not ready to depart from the business quite yet.

“I always say that my job’s not done,” Mangiameli said. “I think the fun thing about being a business owner is being able to hire someone straight out of high school who starts working here as an apprentice or receptionist, and then they go to school, while we provide them with our culture and give them the tools, assistance, mentorship, and guidance they need until they become very successful.

“I love watching my employees reach their goals like being able to afford to purchase their own homes or be financially stable when they do get to that retirement age. The reward for me is being able to see people grow. Now, my senior staff is telling the new girls, ‘You have got to invest in your 401 plan now — don’t wait.’ They see the value now. To have a hairdresser have $1 million in their retirement account before they hit 60 or 70 years old is fantastic.”

Of course, there are bumps in the road on any journey and Mangiameli said the pandemic was a hurdle that greatly impacted the salon and spa, which ultimately had to close for three months.

“We lost a huge revenue stream,” Mangiameli said. “But, I paid the salaries of all my employees during the pandemic and gave them bonuses on top of their normal salaries so that this wouldn’t financially affect my team, which was very important to me. And I think we came back even stronger from the setback. We continue to help each other and our culture has become even better. I think our mental state did change a bit in the sense that we have really ensured there’s an equal balance of work and personal life. We continue to accommodate our team’s schedules to allow that. I think that was another big plus.”

After spending so many years — even decades — building relationships with team members, it’s not easy to imagine saying goodbye. At least not any time soon, Mangiameli said.

“I thoroughly enjoy what I do with my employees and their families,” Mangiameli said. “They’ve been part of my life for so long. I’ve always said I have two families: I have a family at home and I have a family here at work.

“I still have so many new people who are starting in this career and this business and I have a huge responsibility and I don’t take that lightly. I want to make sure they’re able to achieve their goals, ambitions and dreams. Because that’s what it’s all about.”