Several goods and services are not available in Alaska. For many people, this is an inconvenience but one UAA student saw it as an opportunity.
Eleodia Boniface is on the verge of completing her history degree. When contemplating life after college, student loan payments and the option of becoming a teacher, she chose a drastically different path.
“I want to have a coffee shop, or an art gallery, or a store, [so] why not do all three and throw in a salon for good measure?” Boniface said.
The result is a salon, boutique, coffee shop and art gallery called Beautiful, which is located at 321 Fifth Ave. across from the Anchorage Fifth Avenue Mall.
The interior of the shop definitely lives up to its name. The walls are all painted in custom designs and patterns, chandeliers and paper lanterns hang from the ceiling and colorful and unique items line the shelves. The furniture is upholstered in zebra and leopard print fabric and nearly everything in the store is for sale.
The renovation and decoration was all done by Boniface and her business partner, Matt Uhl, over the course of three months.
“We had been talking about this for a long time and I said ‘you can’t do this if you are working 40 hours a week at AAA,’” Uhl said. “So I walked in there one day, picked up her name tag and told everyone ‘hey, she’s not coming back.’”
Beautiful offers a colorful selection of bath products, jewelry and unusual items one would not expect to find in Alaska.
“Everyone who walks through these doors says, ‘wow, it feels like San Francisco, it feels like Chicago, it feels like New York.’ Well, you know what? It feels like city,” Boniface said.
The art gallery currently displays Uhl’s colorful paintings.
“I want to use this space to promote local emerging artists,” Uhl said.
Beautiful has been open for a month and has started to turn heads. Now that the flowers are gone and the winter is coming, the storefront is a shock of color for the gray Fifth Avenue.
The Salon offers cuts, colors, styling and professional make-up for special occasions ranging from prom night to night of the living dead. Uhl has several professional make-up credits under his belt for both the stage and screen, including Broadway tours of “Cats,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Miserables.”
The latest promotion being offered in the salon is a free haircut for anyone willing to sit in the chair naked during the cut. So far there have been no takers, but the offer still stands.
“This store is me trying to live my dream…my attempt to stay in Alaska,” Boniface said. “I could have done this anywhere, but I wanted to do it here.”
For store hours, call 248-4247.