Posts tagged Hudson Valley
An Interview with Jennifer Donovan
Jennifer Donovan of Le Shag

Jennifer Donovan of Le Shag

Uptown Kingston’s recent renaissance would have been impossible without the pioneering efforts of Le Shag owner Jennifer Donovan. She claimed a stake in Kingston long before the boutiques and trendy restaurants arrived. Creating beautiful looks in her simple, industrial-style salon, Jen created a reputation for herself as “one to watch”. Not only is she one of my fave clients, she’s also my office neighbor and I was delighted that she took time for an interview. Okay, let’s meet Jen!

How did you first get into the hair industry?
As a junior in high school, I finished several of my credits early, leaving me with a half day of study hall. I watched a trade conference at Kingston High School and decided to go to Votec for the half day instead and earn both college credits for a business course at UCCC while simultaneously doing hours towards my cosmetology license. It was free and seemed like a great option! Of course, it was a new idea to most of my peers and especially my parents. But after some convincing, I got everyone on the same page - and there I was! Best choice I ever made for myself!

Is it true that hair Rock God Mark Ferraro was an early mentor of yours?
Yes! In Beauty School my teachers were constantly pushing me to do more. An opening came up at Mark Ferraro’s salon to be an assistant/shampoo girl. Ms Sangi said, “This is your job! You’ll fit right in!” It took some persuasion, but I finally met Mark. When I walked in I told him who I was and he said, “You’re hired!” I don’t think he even knew my last name.

I was psyched. He was known for his connections to Vidal Sassoon and for being the most expensive hair stylist in our area. I met Marc Jacobs, Robert Duffy, and Levon Helm within the first two weeks. You can imagine what I saw over the years! It was an incredible place. I had no idea I’d end up staying almost eight years. And now I’m so happy to be reunited with Mark at Le Shag.

What made you open your own salon?
Mark Ferraro! My first choice was always to partner with him. I enjoyed being the biz brains behind the craziness in this artistic world. I loved doing hair; but I also loved breaking new boundaries, helping other stylists become successful and giving the community what it wanted and loved.

When I left Mark, we still worked as a team: He was cutting; I was coloring. But eventually people wanted to have both services in the same place. So I added cutting to my services. Later, I added more stylists for when I did shows in NYC, on and Off Broadway, photoshoots, videos, etc. Le Shag has grown from a one-chair hair studio in a second-floor location to a ground floor storefront with ten chairs and multiple stylists who are all following careers like mine. And that doesn’t include additional locations in NYC and Woodstock.

What new and exciting things can we expect from Le Shag in the coming year?
This year the focus is on supporting my stylists and the new stylists joining the team. I want to help some of the eager “moms in training” and other superstars figure out what they need. We have some of our core staff opening other Le Shag Capsules this year. We also have great plans for our guests and the community. We’re adding more retail space, more makeup, and more stations for makeup artists who do weddings and film work.

This fall, we are launching our Academy. It will host Le Shag stylists and their continued education for styling, cuts, colors, etc. Maryanna Fitzgerald is heading the first training session. The Academy is an opportunity for some of our Le Shag Ambassadors to teach, while allowing more time with their kids or traveling for inspiration. The second part of the Academy is for advanced education. This section is a collection of colleagues from NYC who are professional hair and makeup artists working mostly on set and in editorial. Many of these colleagues are celebrity talent looking for an opportunity to get out of the city and put on their professors’ caps. Most of them have “Vogue” or Sports Illustrated” covers.

These courses offer limited seats for serious stylists who want a career in professional prepping. All Academy courses are tuition sales through Eventbrite (be sure to sign up via email!) It will be exciting to see who the Academy brings to the area. We are working on combining the Academy scheduling with Stockade Works programming as well. My dear friend, makeup artist Alice Lane, will join me this year as the curator of local products within the new retail space. She’s also helping scout fellow artists.

There is a lot going on at our Capsule at Glo Spa, which is now a medi-spa! We are adding more Capsules in the upcoming year as well. One is in LA! We haven’t officially announced that yet. Obviously, I always have some fun up my sleeve. A couple clients are debuting a few new fall series on Prime, Netflix, and Bravo: so I will have some new fun pics showing up on my Instagram stories shortly! I’ve promised to be better this year about posting. Make sure to follow us or hop on our website to sign up for newsletters (compliments of Pioneer) at to keep your finger on our pulse.

What’s your must have hair-care product?
I’m just changing to my “fall feels” and adding a little more weight on my products again… Weight and shine. My fave is EVO Dry Spray Wax!

What’s been the most exciting hair trend recently?
The kids love the Balayage! Free-hand hair painted highlights. Jessica Caprotti, who worked side by side with me for years, is now taking over that role at Le Shag! In fact, we are adding a painting studio for her and her new tribe of stylists this fall. She’s the queen of painting hair.

How have you seen Kingston change over the years?
We definitely were the only combo hair salon/art gallery/party spot here! In fact, it was mostly hair salons. All very successful ones at that: Dreamweavers and Rage. You’d walk down the street just yelling “Hi!” to everyone. It was a super friendly neighborhood scene. It’s exciting to see all the new blood coming into town now.

Nothing will beat my younger years though. I loved Uptown when I was little. I used to go with my family to shop at London’s for holiday outfits and to grab school supplies at Woolworths at the end of the 80s and into the 90s. I still remember a penguin Trapper Keeper I begged my grandmother for at Woolworths! There were mechanical horses on the sidewalks to keep us occupied while our parents shopped. It was so special to do Christmas shopping at Schneider’s Jewelers and pick up meats (and toys) at Schnellers.

At that time the Mohican Market was still a food market with fresh veggie and fruit carts pushed out onto the sidewalks regularly. The streets were always bustling; and there was a parking garage that, with a stamp you received while shopping, made parking FREE! Can you believe it? It was an amazing time. You’d have to stand aside during the holiday season to let people pass on the sidewalks. IBM was still here, and things were very different. I hope that something helps bring back some of that economy.

It’s so exciting to see so many new businesses pop up here and see so many young entrepreneurs get a start at having their own thing. It’s such a creative place and such an amazing atmosphere. I feel very fortunate to have been at the forefront of the changes, and I’m thrilled to see more and more.

When you’re not giving the world the best beach hair ever, what do you do for fun?
Now that I’m a mom, most of my fun revolves around watching the kids experience new things and doing silly mom things that most friends make fun of later. Like driving around town in my minivan, which Pugsly was so jealous of the other day. He probably will have one next now. Hahahaha, that’s right folks, I’m ALL IN mom style after hours. Of course, you won’t catch me giving out a mom-bob unless I’m certain it’d be ironic with your outfit.

What are some of your fave places to grab a bite in the area?
I love it all! How lucky are we with the eats in this area? Depending on if I’m mom for the night or if I’m pretending I’m not mom at all is how I choose my spot. During the day we mostly chow down at Outdated, Sissy’s, Lunch Box or Market Basket for some old school sandwich action. When I have to do a little more fancy for biz partners, we visit France, I mean Le Canard, Stella’s or Kovo. At night we love Boitson’s back deck; Crown now has some tasty treats; and Diego’s is always so fun, especially when DJ Ali Gruber is there!

In Woodstock we love to hit up Sylvia’s and Cucina. A&P has amazing pizzas at night and the Garden Cafe and Sunfrost always hit the spot for lunch. I’ll always miss my two fave places: Elephant and New World Cuisine. Both spots were my pregnancy craving homesteads. Maybe we could get them to do a pop-up café in our new retail space! You must help me with that, Chris!

Do you have any advice or someone wanting to start their own salon?

Join the Le Shag network; you won’t be disappointed. We will help you get your feet off the ground and support you all the way by meeting your goals, making new ones, and growing your business. I think the biggest thing is to NOT be afraid and don't be so competitive! There are enough heads for all of us. Bad mouthing other salons is not nice and is super OLD-SCHOOL and not in a good way. Everyone has a specialty; find yours and rock it.

Okay Jen… Time for the SPEED ROUND:
Fave Color: Rainbow
Fave Food: Caviar
Fave Book: Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon
Fave Song: “Crush” by Cigarettes After Sex
Fave Movie: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (tell Chevy Chase and Kara Eletto I’m still giving that shout out)

Book your hair appointment with Jen at Le Shag, 292C Fair St, Kingston, NY 12401

An Interview with Dave Pillard
Dave Pillard of Tender Land Home

Dave Pillard of Tender Land Home

Dave Pillard from Phoenicia’s very own Tender Land Home is a true Catskills visionary - selling amazing home and gift items long before the Brooklyn hipsters descended upon our quaint little community. Dave’s boutique has a gift for every occasion and he pretty much knows everything there is to know about Phoenicia and the Catskills. I’m happy to call him a good friend and my very first marketing client. Okay, let’s meet Dave...

What first brought you to the Catskills?
A friend. The singer Leslie Ritter, is a good friend of my former partner. We used to get away for weekends to see Les and hang out in the Catskills.

What inspired you to open Tender Land Home?
Like so many people who want to live full time in the Catskills I was looking for a job that could support me here. My then partner Bill Forbes had The Tender Land so when a space became available on Main Street in Phoenicia we figured let's open another store!

Tell us what the name means?
The name is based on Bill's favorite opera, The Tender Land by Aaron Copland. It's an appropriate name for the beautiful Catskill Mountains.

What are some of your top sellers?
Top sellers are jewelry, candles, kids merchandise and rugs.

How has the digital age affected your business?
The digital age has made it easier for people to purchase larger items online. I used to sell a lot more furniture. But now people can order sofas, chairs and tables online and have them delivered to their home. I adjusted to this by adding smaller, more unique items that can fit in the environment of a Catskills cabin or a Manhattan apartment.

How have you seen Phoenicia change over the years?
It's like the old saying that is something to the effect "everything is different and everything is the same." Phoenicia is still a really special place where everyone fits in. There's no pretense here - no struggle to live up to some kind of reputation. That is really great. And what's also really new and great is that a younger generation has discovered the beauty and charm of the Catskills and sings it praises.

When you’re not selling the best gifts ever, what do you do for fun?
For fun I like to work out - gym, swim, ride my bike, walk on the reservoir. My partner Robert Hessler and I love to binge watch series on Netflix or HBO - especially in winter (I'm also an admitted Real Housewives of New York and New Jersey junkie). I also love yard work - it's sort of a zen thing for me.

What are some of your fave places to grab a bite in the area?
We are blessed with great places to eat here! The burger and fries at Peekamoose are the bomb! Nobody does it better!! One slice of the chicken alfredo pizza at Brio's is a lunch in itself and I really dig their grilled cheddar cheese sandwich with apple and bacon. YUM! Sweet Sue's pancakes are still the best in the world!!!! Robin's homemade fudge at The Nest Egg is such a sinful treat. And I always love going to see Margaret at the Phoenicia Deli because she's so wonderful and also makes a wonderful sandwich. I could go on and on and on about the food around here!! LOL!!!

Do you have any advice or someone wanting to start their own business in the Phoenicia area?
Make your business plan and then throw it out the window!! The Catskills is such a quirky business environment that no matter what you plan for you're going to be thrown lots of curve balls that you didn't see coming. Doing business around here is like going for a roller coaster ride - you have to hold on tenaciously through the ups and downs. Put aside more money than you think you're going to need to get started (because guaranteed you'll need it) and in a few years you'll see the fruits of your labor.

Okay Dave… Time for the SPEED ROUND:
Fave Color: Blue
Fave Food: French Fries
Fave Book: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Fave Song: “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd
Fave Movie: A tie between The Wizard of Oz and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (but there's also Blade Runner and most of Stanley Kubrick's movies too.... Oh well)

Visit Dave at Tender Land Home, 64 Main St, Phoenicia, NY 12464

Cream of the Crop

Chris Bick's Picks: The Best of Ulster County, Vol 1


Sweet Sue’s: 49 Main St, Phoenicia, NY 12464. Their hours might be early for those who like to sleep in on the weekends (Breakfast/Brunch only: Fri - Mon, 8am-1pm) but the food SERIOUSLY is well worth the early alarm call, trust me. Pancakes as big as your head crafted with Sue's secret recipe… 'Nuff said!



Hot Spot Yoga: 218 Plaza Rd, Kingston, NY 12401. Tucked in the elbow of the Kingston Plaza, this haven of heat (A Bikram Yoga series in a steamy 105° room) has been my ultimate savior for the past few years. Don’t miss their Black Light Class on Black Friday.



Uptown Coffee: 288 Wall St, Kingston, NY 12401. Truly the best chocolate chip cookies in the universe. I'm Cookie Monster so I know. Soft, warm and chocked full of melted chocolate chips. I could just go on and on... Oh, and I'm totally addicted to their coffee and relaxed vibe too!



Sacred Traditions Healing: 530 High Meadow Dr, Kerhonkson, NY 12446. Owners Tammi Price and Steeven Lall Price have created a gorgeous haven of healing and tranquility. Steeven’s “bone setter” massages are incredible and NOT for the faint of heart. Mind, body and spirit healing.



Tender Land Home: 64 Main St, Phoenicia, NY 12464. Store owner Dave Pillard is one of the sweetest, kindest and hottest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s stocked his store with great gifts, accessories and home decor items for every occasion. And if you want to know anything about the Catskills, just ask Dave… He knows!



Bluestone Basecamp: 4170 US-9W, Saugerties, NY 12477. Mark Dunbrack and Ryan Jennings have created this chic yet casual Bed and Breakfast in a beautifully restored brick manor. Downtown NYC LGBTQ performer Justin Vivian Bond is a besties of the guys and and frequent guest star at the basecamp.



Half Moon Books: 35 N Front St, Kingston, NY 12401. Need a book outlining the feminist philosophy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Just ask store owner Jessica DuPont… I’m sure it’s on her shelves! And who the heck does those amazing window displays?!?



Antique Barn at Water Street Market: 10 Main St # 501, New Paltz, NY 12561. Where else can you get lost in the various vintage worlds of the past and wind up with a box full of classic mid-century Christmas ornaments, a light up globe lamp and a mushroom yard sculpture... All before 11am?



Woodstock Playhouse: 103 Mill Hill Rd, Woodstock, NY 12498
I think it’s amazing that we can live this far out in the country and still have such talented performers entertain us with incredible Broadway standards. When I saw Spring Awakening there, it changed my life... Forever!



Old Dutch Church: 272 Wall St, Kingston, NY 12401. I love this place. The history, the architecture, the steeple, the catacombs, the gravestones… They’re all symbolic of the rich history we have here in Ulster County. I also love the spooky stories they tell in the graveyard at Halloween time. A total treasure.


ABOUT ME: Hi, I’m Chris Bick, the owner of Pioneer Agency in Kingston, NY. Hope you enjoyed my list. I do marketing, social media, web development, retail window display installations and architectural drafting. I know, it’s a wide array of services but I love the variety. I owned a successful online store in NYC for over 15 years but wanted something more… A quieter life surrounded by nature and authenticity. Hence Ulster County. Now I live in Mt Tremper with my 2 cats Charlie and Vern and I thoroughly enjoy using my marketing experience to help small Hudson Valley businesses fulfill their dreams. You can catch me this fall playing the Subway Ghost at The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck's adaptation of Ghost The Musical.