Creativity, style and sustainability converge in the grand opening celebration, "Gypsy Camp" at the Disco Dolls Studio and Arjuna Boutique. The salon/fashion studio and the eco-boutique, located next door to each other on North Howard Avenue, are joining forces on June 16 to celebrate their new shops.
The Disco Dolls Studio is the brainchild of sisters Kristine Bush and Leigh Anne Balzekas. The studio serves as a design space and hair salon, run by hair stylist Maxwell Maisano. They also offer client-specific consulting and styling services. According to Balzekas, the studio is a space where the three artists can synthesize their talent and creativity.
"We decided we really needed a space where we could all create," Balzekas said. "So, that’s why we call it a studio. I do all of my creating and all of my sewing there."
The Fall 2011 Disco Dolls collection of hair and clothing acted as the inspiration for the grand opening’s "Gypsy Camp" theme. The event will include a fashion show featuring the collection.
Event goers are encouraged to come to the celebration decked out in gypsy attire and capture their look in a photo booth on the premises. Props and accessories are provided. Balzekas said incorporating the theme at the opening will create a shared experience.
The Disco Dolls are also supporters of the bay area art scene. Guest artists often stop by the studio to paint, and Balzekas said that they will soon be featuring regular art shows. Kansas City-based expressionist artist Beth Emery, who is relocating to Tampa, will showcase her new collection of large canvases at the opening.
In addition drawing influence from art, Balzekas' work is a combination of her background in costume design and practical clothing design.
"I like to create things that are fun and whimsical," Balzekas said. "I definitely enjoy marrying fun and frivolity with function; something you can actually go out and wear."
Along with whimsy, sustainability plays a huge role in the overall vision of the Disco Dolls. The entire fall collection is made from vintage and recycled fabric. According to Balzekas, using salvaged fabric creates a product that is different, interesting and has a history.
For Jen Stoeckert of Arjuna Boutique, sustainability is also extremely important. The eco-boutique sells vintage home goods, fair-trade jewelry and accessories, soy burning candles, accessories by local artists and organic skin care products. At the opening, attendees will be able to browse the boutique, including Arjuna’s new organic skin care products.
A licensed esthetician in Florida and Illinois, Stoeckert typically does more than a month of research before deciding to sell a skin care product in the boutique.
"I am very picky about ingredients," Stoeckert said. "I try to find things that are as pure as they claim to be and are exclusive to the area."
The Disco Dolls and Arjuna Boutique are united by a common aesthetic and purpose.
"It’s a celebration of something new in Tampa," Balzekas said. "We’re independent women and business owners trying to create something fun and exciting, but also something sustainable."