The full look : Heather Corndorf

“The full look” is my monthly post about the person or people I profiled in my monthly email, redshoes news. In each issue, subscribers get a “‘Sneak’ peek” at someone I think is doing cool things. Below is the entire interview. To subscribe to redshoes news, click here. Thanks for reading!

I met Heather while working at LifeTime Athletic, and later took one of her always-packed fitness classes. I love her style of teaching—she’s casual, funny, and motivating—and how hard she pushes us. Heather is doing some rad things in the fitness industry, including making some new videos and tutorials for her website. I’m excited to introduce you to this inspiring spark plug!

Heather Corndorf's Cardio Kickboxing video, left, and a shot of her doing what she does, right.

Heather Corndorf’s Cardio Kickboxing video, left, and a shot of her doing what she does best—and rockin’ those abs, right.

Hey Heather! Tell us about you.
I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, met my husband at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and then moved to Chicago. We now live with our two kids in Minneapolis.

At the University of Michigan, I received a BFA in Dance. I’ve danced since the age of 2, so this was a natural path for me. Upon graduating, I danced a bit professionally, worked as a recruiter, was a paralegal, went to law school for a year…. But while I worked at all of those different jobs, I always taught fitness classes at Crunch and Equinox. Teaching was a side gig, but it always kept me creative, healthy, and happy.

What classes do you teach and where?
I teach Cardio Kickboxing, Barre, Total Body Conditioning, Hot Yoga Sculpt, Core Conditioning, and a combination of everything. Currently, I teach at LifeTime Athletic, Athleta, Lululemon, and area high schools for special events.

You have Type 1 diabetes. Will you tell us about that?
Near the end of my senior year at college, I was experiencing the typical diabetic symptoms—extreme thirst, lethargy, frequent urination, and blurred vision. After a couple of weeks like this, I went to the hospital and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It was December of 2000. I use an insulin pump to better control my blood sugar levels. It’s a constant struggle and some days are more difficult than others. But in all honesty, I feel fortunate to have a condition that I can (somewhat) control.

How did you get into teaching group fitness?
I’ve been teaching fitness for 13 years. In Chicago, I took a Cardio Kickboxing class (it was my first group fitness class) and the instructor asked me after class if she could train me to teach. It seemed like a fun challenge, so I accepted. I will never forget how much I practiced in front of my closet mirror in my tiny bedroom apartment. My poor roommate probably had nightmares of me counting to eight! Getting into fitness was not a deliberate thing, but in retrospect it was a very natural step for me.

What motivates you to do what you do? 
My family motivates me daily—I want to be a good role model to my children. They need to see me be passionate about life, work. And with work they see me taking care of my health. I want them to understand that success isn’t measured by money or stature, but more by what good you are doing in the present and for those around you. My husband motivates me to be the best me I can be and to simply focus on that. He reminds me daily that I am enough, and that I have a responsibility to shine. My students, both in person and those that work out with me through video, motivate and inspire me. Their stories, struggles, triumphs, insecurities, honesty, and feedback make me a better instructor every day.

Challenge is a huge motivator for me. If you tell me it’s not possible, I’ll prove you wrong.

Who’s helped you succeed as a fitness professional?
Katie Haggerty, a fitness leader at LifeTime, has been a mentor to me ever since I moved to Minneapolis. She pushed me outside of my comfort zone and into teaching formats that were new to me. Katie is always challenging me to learn more, share my knowledge with as many people as possible, and never doubt my passion. I would not be where I am today without Katie.

Can you tell us about your fitness videos?
Getting involved with fitness videos was also an organic process that I had not planned. It started when I filmed a couple of fitness videos with LifeTime, then flowed into filming with Fitness on Request, a kiosk-based group fitness program. Soon after that, my other mentor, Patrick Goudeau, called me from L.A. to choreograph and shoot a video with him. He started a series called “Patrick Presents” as a way of endorsing and introducing new faces to the fitness industry. Patrick flew me to L.A. to film Kickbox Burn, and we spent last year presenting at fitness conferences. In retrospect, filming fitness videos totally makes sense for me because it’s consistent with my mission to inspire others through fitness to love their bodies today.

What’s in the near future for you and Heather C Fitness? 
In terms of videos, I am currently working on some quick cardio and strength workouts (no equipment needed) that my peeps can download from my website. It’s so exciting to share these workouts because they are actually what I do at home when I can’t get to the gym! I’m also working on filming another cardio kickboxing DVD.

This year I’ve also started training instructors as a Master Instructor at LifeTime, and will also be presenting at conferences.

What would you like to do even further down the road?
It’s funny—with most things in my life, I look ahead and have a plan. With fitness, I’ve really found that I’m best if I just focus on my mission, my students, and my projects. When I am truly in the moment is when new opportunities pop up and the next challenge begins.

Where can people find out more about you or connect with you?
My DVD and future workouts can be found on my website, Class schedules and special events are posted weekly on my Facebook page.


What didn’t fit : Roger Barrett & Sam Beberg

Roger Barrett and Sam Beberg are the co-owners of Pharmacie, a new home furnishings, accessories, and gift shop in Uptown in Minneapolis. I worked with Roger at the Science Museum of Minnesota years ago, and am really excited for his and Sam’s new venture. Both still work at their day jobs in addition to running the shop, so they’ve been insanely busy. But all the hard work has been paying off. If you haven’t stopped in yet, you should! It’s got a different vibe than any other shop in the Twin Cities, and I love it. (Oh, and yes, disclaimer, they do carry my work!)


Roger Barrett (left) and Sam Beberg, co-owners of Pharmacie in Minneapolis.

Roger Barrett (left) and Sam Beberg, co-owners of Pharmacie in Minneapolis.

Hey Roger and Sam! What are your guys’ backgrounds?
We’re both Minnesota natives. Sam is from Grand Marais, and I (Roger) am from Brooklyn Park. My background is in graphic and exhibition design, and Sam’s is in the restaurant business. He worked previously as a chef at Chez Bananas and Table of Contents, and currently co-owns Hot Plate in South Minneapolis.

What is Pharmacie?
We’re not a drug store! But we like to think, in a way, that we’re offering the same idea—a place where people can come fill a prescription…for design. In all seriousness, we’re a modern home furnishings, accessories, and gift store with a focus on up-and-coming small designers from around the country, layered with select vintage finds. We have a varied and eclectic mix of products at all price points. Offerings range from jewelry to sofas, glassware to backpacks, lighting to bottle openers, side tables to soap dishes.

When did you start talking about opening up a shop, and why did you want to?
We’ve been dreaming of this, separately, for a lifetime. But together, we’ve talked about it for at least three years. And we’ve been actively researching product, vibe, and location for the last two years.

Why did you want to open a shop?
Because we love and appreciate well-designed objects and environments, and want to share that love with our friends, neighbors, and customers.

How did it come about, and how long did long did it take?
I’m not exactly certain how the idea was born. Probably during some late-night furniture re-arranging in our apartment. I probably told Sam, “You’re really good at this. You should open a design store!”

As for the name, it was initially conceived over two years ago when the old Burch Pharmacy space in Uptown became vacant. We thought it would be the perfect spot for a home design store. And why not give a nod to the history of the building and call it Pharmacie? Obviously, we didn’t take that location, but the name stuck. We love the tongue-and-cheek nature of being named something that we’re not, but in a way still providing the same services: a prescription for design; an RX for a beautiful life.

What kind of research did you do?
The internet, gift shows in New York and San Francisco, the internet, friends, scoping out shops and products wherever we travel to, the internet…. Thank god for the internet, and for the husband and wife making furniture in their garage!

Who and/or what has been helpful in getting this going?
Without a doubt it’s been family and friends. People have been incredibly supportive of our idea and this project. And since we’ve opened, it’s been amazing how much support we’ve gotten from the neighborhood. People are pretty stoked that we’ve moved in.

You did a lot of the work in the shop yourselves. Can you tell us about that?
All I gotta say is we need better tools.

After you passed up the Burch spot, how did you choose your current space?
We looked forever at locations all over Minneapolis, but always knew we wanted to be in a vibrant neighborhood, and be close to restaurants, bars, and other shops.

What’s great about your location?
We couldn’t be happier with where we landed. We have great neighbors—World Street KitchenSooVacMoxie—that have all been incredibly supportive of our venture. And the neighboring residents are really excited about the addition to the ‘hood. The space itself is perfect, too. We love all the great windows and the raw finishing of the space.

What’s “Home” to you?
Home is a delicious meal, a good drink, easygoing friends, a good joke…and some items from Pharmacie!

How do you choose your products?
We love objects that are sexy, funny, beautiful, unique, hand-crafted, modern, luxurious, expensive, a good value, fragrant, comfortable, black, pink, white, brass…or any combination of the above.

What are some of your favorite products?
Right now our favorite products are a box of condoms imprinted with “Thanks for nothing,” and the 3D-printed skulls.

What’s in store in the near future?
Oof. We have big dreams. But for now, it’s all about getting through the holidays.

Why should people shop at Pharmacie?
We have a great selection of unique objects presented in a warm, welcoming, modern environment.

Do you have any events coming up we should know about?
We’re doing a Small Business Saturday happy hour from 6-9pm on Nov. 30.

Read all of the interviews I’ve done for redshoes news on my blog, redshoes news 2.6.

What didn’t fit : Holiday Gift Guide

Some of my favorite local small businesses share what they do in this annual Holiday Gift Guide. You can contact the artists and designers directly for more info on them or their work. Enjoy, and thanks for shopping local!


What: Irely Intimate Apparel is my line of comfortable and pretty knickers with a patented pocket that they roll into, and TowelTopper is a band I designed that wraps around your towel, which secures it to your body.
Exclusive: Receive 10% off your entire order by entering the code redshoes13 at checkout.


What: Hand-pulled color-reduction woodcuts of the natural world, with an emphasis on the complex nature of human relationships with the environment.
Where: My studio, located at 2168 Third St., Suite 2A, in White Bear Lake, MN. I’ll be hosting some events next month, including the White Bear Lake Holiday Open House on Nov. 7, and the Small Business Saturday Studio Sale from 10-4 on Nov. 30. Visit a working artist studio for handmade holiday gifts, woodcuts, and refreshments.


What: Fashion-forward yoga and activewear/lifestyle apparel that’s perfect for making the transition from the studio to dinner with friends. Our garments are made in St. Paul, MN, and our mantra is “I AM enough.” We believe that who you are is exactly who you should be. We recognize the importance of challenging yourself to become the best you possible, but feel that at the end of the day, it is loving yourself, as you are, that can bring you the most peace.
Exclusive: Receive $10 off your first order by using the code RedShoes at checkout in either of the online shops listed above. Offer ends Nov. 11, 2013.


What: My modern jewelry designs are beautiful and affordable. I use ethically sourced materials whenever possible.
Where: Studio #288 in the Northrup King Building, which will be open during Art Attack from Nov. 1-3. You can also find a list of local shops on my website.
Exclusive: Receive 10% off of in-stock merchandise by letting me know you read about it in redshoes news.


What: State Icons, which are digital illustrations in handmade frames, and mini State Icon ornaments, which are even smaller State Icons in tiny metal canisters with glass lids. They are adorned with sparkly wreaths and ribbon. Aww.
Where: At various art and craft shows nationwide, plus at 19 shops, boutiques, and galleries in the U.S. A list can be found on the Contact page of my website.
Exclusive: Purchase three or more State Icon illustrations in the month of November 2013 and receive a free mini State Icon ornament. Just mention you saw this deal in redshoes news, and tell me which State Icon you’d like in your ornament.


What: Oil and acrylic abstract paintings; mixed-media collage; and one-of-a-kind, handwoven items.
Where: The Orchard Art House in Excelsior, MN, which is open Thursday nights in December for a Holiday Bazaar. My new original framed collages on wood, made from torn sketchbook pages and other paper mixed media, will be available, as will colorful, handwoven, full-sized blankets.

Want more? Join the mailing list for my monthly email, redshoes news. Just sign up here.

What didn’t fit : Nick Ice

I thought I knew what “mountain biking” was before I met Nick Ice, but boy was I wrong. Turns out, mountain biking, or downhill biking, or any kind of biking other than the road biking I was familiar with, means you’re a crazy person who hurls him or herself down hills and off jumps, teeters on balance beam-like rails, navigates rocky terrain, and lots, lots more—all on two wheels. Here, the computer programmer by day, adrenaline junkie by night/weekend talks about this “extreme” biking and the trails these guys and girls ride on.

nick ice riding

Nick Ice not only rides the trails…

Nick Ice building a trail

…he helps build them.

Hey Nick! Tell us about you. 
I started my schooling at Dunwoody College of Technology studying Architecture, but when I realized I loved building homes more that designing them, I lost the passion. Later, I took a Computer Programming class at the University of Minnesota and loved it, so I transferred to Brown College. I graduated from there in 2003.

How did you get into biking?
Growing up, I was always on my bike with my friends, building sketchy ramps or jumping stairs, destroying our “awesome” Wal-Mart bikes. I got my first real mountain bike at 13, and my friends and I spent a lot of time in Indian Heights in Rochester, MN, which featured rogue trails in the woods that seemed to change daily. There were a lot of good times had in those woods with friends, painful crashes and all. Then I got a car and started school, and kind of forgot about biking for many years.

In 2008 my friend Curt and I decided to go out mountain biking one day, but I realized my 1993 Giant Rincon was in non-working order. So I went to craigslist and found a nice Specialized Hard Rock, and we went out the next day, with no helmets, of course (I never ride without one now).

Since that day in 2008, I haven’t stopped biking. Today I have five bikes, and each serves a specific type of riding.

How did you get into trail building?
After I fell back in love with biking, I joined the bike club Minnesota Off Road Cyclist (MORC) and saw they did trail work every week on my local trail, Battle Creek. I thought, “What better way to meet some new people and help build trails?” Plus, I wanted to see more jumps and advanced trails, so instead of complaining about it I grabbed a shovel and worked with the trail crew to build new trails and features.

Last year the crew at Battle Creek asked me to be one of the Dirt Bosses since I was out there on non-organized trail days digging and building new stuff. It was kind of a, “We can’t control you, so we might as well promote you.” That, and it allows me to be out there with chainsaws and other equipment whenever they need me.

What goes into building a trail?
The first step is to scout an area you’d like to build a trail or add on to an existing trail. Then you work with the City to get approval, as the majority of trails in the Metro are in county or state parks. After that, you “flag the trail,” or walk the area and flag or tape it to show where you want it to be. Once flagged, it usually has to be looked at by the City/County/State for final approval. After approval you can start cutting the corridor, which is the process of clearing any brush, leaves, and trees (we never remove trees, unless absolutely necessary). The corridor is usually about 5–8 feet wide, depending on the type of trail you’re building. Most single track bike trails are built to about 24–36 inches and over time narrow to 12–18 inches once grass or shrubs grow back in.

Once there’s a corridor cut, you cut the actual trail tread. Depending on the terrain and the City/County you’re in, it’s either done by hand or by machine. The cut trail gets a final finishing, and then features are added.

Two of the best tools are another person’s opinions and eyes. Having multiple people flag and help with the design and features is key. You may miss a creative line, or an issue you don’t see right away. Plus, it’s fun to see others’ visions and learn from each other.

What kinds of trails are there?
There are a bunch of styles, but here are the typical ones:
• Single-track – The most common trails in the Twin Cities, these are used for mountain biking and range from easy to advanced. They’re usually one-ways and 18–24 inches wide.
• Multi-use – Trails used by bikers, hikers, trail runners, and sometimes horse riders. They’re a great use for small areas.
• Downhill (DH) – My favorite style of trail to ride and build. These go down the side of a hill/mountain and can include jumps, drops, rocky sections, doublesberms, and skinnies.
• Dirt jumps – Jumps that a lot of times are doubles because only hand tools were available to build with, not machinery. They’re usually sculpted better than most people’s lawns. The builders take pride in nice looking jumps. I love it.
• Pump tracks – Usually 24 inches wide or so, and meant to be ridden around with no pedaling, mainly pumping through rollers and bermed corners (a roller is a mound of dirt in a half-oval shape you can pump to keep speed on a trail).
• Flow – Think of these as pump tracks that go downhill. Usually a beginner/intermediate trail with flowing berms, rollers, and smaller jumps. Beginners should be able to ride them, but they allow advanced riders to find creative lines and ride fast.
• 4X – Courses in which four people at a time race down a trail to cross the [finish] line first. We just built one in Cottage Grove, MN.
• Slopestyle – These vary a lot and usually consist of a combination of drops, jumps, hips, and berms. The best example is Crankworx.

What trails have you worked on?
I started at Battle Creek, but then I saw there were a bunch of guys building a downhill trail in Red Wing, MN, with plans to host races on it. I went to their first race, and after that I helped them anytime they headed down. Now there’s a flowy freeride trail at Memorial Park in Red Wing that has some really fun tables, step downs, doubles, and berms. (The best part about building that trail is now I have some of the best friends I could ask for, and I’ve taken lots of biking trips with them out West. We’ll be friends for life.)

After that there was an opportunity to build and hold races at Giants Ridge Ski Resort in Biwabik, MN. We spent many weekends up there laying out and building a new downhill trail. It had the best terrain for this type of trail: It was very rocky and offered lots of natural technical sections. After a ton of hours, we had a legitimate downhill trail that was excellent for hosting downhill races on.

Next, we rebuilt the old dirt jumps and pump track in Eagan, MN, at Lexington. With the help of a mini excavator and skid steer, plus countless hours of shaping, we completed three new pump tracks and a line of dirt jumps. The next summer we came back and modified some of the pump tracks, worked on drainage, and continued to add more jumps.

Last year, downhill bikers in Minnesota got the best news we could hope for: Spirit Mountain in Duluth was going to build downhill trails and run the lifts. Lucky me, MORC was sending a group of Dirt Bosses up there to take part in a Flow Trail school taught by Trail Solutions. I got to spend two days working with professional trail builders, learning how to design and lay out flow trail. It was a great experience, and after the class I went to Duluth multiple times to help the guys finish building the flow trail. As it stands, Spirit Mountain has four trails and runs the lifts Thursday through Sunday. The plan is to have 10–12 trails there. I’m hoping to help build more.

This summer there was an International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) trail day held at Salem Hills bike trail in Inver Grove Heights, MN. Trail days are for people who are interested in learning what goes into building/maintaining bike trails. We showed about 100 people how to fix erosion issues, and the proper ways to build trails.

The latest project is in Cottage Grove, MN. Our friend Chance worked with the City and got the OK to build a bike park there. It includes a 4X course, dirt jumps, and pump tracks. For this project, shovels weren’t going to cut it, so we brought in the big guns: bulldozers, excavators, and skid steers. The 4X course consists of jumps, drops, massive berms, rollers, and space for four racers on the track at a time. In five weeks or so, the course was completed, and there was a party/fundraiser earlier this month to raise money to complete the park. You can look for some additions in the next week or two.

Where do you get ideas for trails?
A lot of times the terrain will give you ideas on how it wants to be sculpted. You may also be riding a trail and like a feature or section of trail, and realize you have an area that would allow you to build something like it, or it at least inspires you for a section. Your fellow trail builders are a great place to get ideas. Like I mentioned before, a group of riders can often make a great piece of trail.

Where are some of your favorites to ride?
Here comes the cliché answer of Whistler Mountain Bike Park in British Columbia. But it truly is the mecca for DH riding. It consists of more than 50 lift-assisted trails with enough variety in terrain and features that you never get bored. It will eat your bike, but man is it worth it. I’ve been lucky to spend nine days there with a great group, and had as much fun as possible on two wheels. I will be back.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time at Trestle Bike Park and Keystone in Colorado. They’re very different styles of trails but complement each other so well.

Locally, my favorite trail is Battle Creek, partly because it’s my home trail and I dig there, but I feel it has some of the best terrain in the Twin Cities. It’s a great mix of old- and new-style trails. You have the fun, flowy sections, then there are the rutted, rooty, eroded sections that you just don’t see anymore.

My new love has been Spirit Mountain. They’ve gotten off to a great start up there, and with the master plan, plus a Mayor and community behind them, I see it developing into a great bike destination.

What are your future trail building plans?
There have been talks to work at Battle Creek on a couple sections with some machinery, and I would love to get back up to Spirit and help them out.

I’m also taking part in a class with IMBA this weekend on building pump tracks. We’re going to be building a pump track at the Cottage Grove bike park.

Where would you love to build a trail?
I’d like to build a true double black diamond DH trail at Spirit that could be used for hosting races. The nice thing about race courses is you have to change them slightly every year to make them new and fresh. It’s a fun challenge to see how you can change or add to a trail without killing the flow.

What do you wish more people knew about biking?
Lately while commuting to work I’ve noticed how many people are not properly fitted for their bike. I [wish everyone would] at least get their seat elevated to a proper height. I suggest popping into your local bike shop and asking them about getting fitted. Your legs and back will thank you.

Also, I’ve found a lot of people think bike trails are built and maintained by the City, but that isn’t the case. Most of the time—if not all the time—the work is done by the volunteers of the local bike clubs. One thing I’m not a fan of is armchair trail builders. They think they know more and complain about the trails, but they’ve never once picked up a shovel or come out to a [volunteer] trail day. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting constructive criticism and ideas for trails. It’s how we learn. But trail builders get involved because we want to build trails we want to ride. So if you have an idea or concern, please let us know, but try to do so in a way in which we’ll actually want to listen.

How can people get involved?
The easiest is come out and help us dig. Each trail in the Metro has a specific build day each week (they can be found here). No experience is needed. We supply all the tools, teach the proper techniques, and answer questions.

Another option is to donate to MORC via IMBA. This money goes to buying tools, fixing tools, and renting machines. It also helps pay for permits, fees, and insurance as needed. If you’re out biking, hiking, and trail running, and see a trail crew out working, a “Thanks” or high five is always appreciated.

Can we see video of you riding?
Here are links to some videos I’ve taken over the years of the trails in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
-Spirit Mountain:
• Happy Camper Trail
• Blaster to Smorgasbord Trails
• Upper section of Candy Land Trail

Red Wing (I’m in the striped shirt)

Mont Du Lac, WI (Brad Miller is building fun trails here as we speak)

What is your favorite pair of shoes?
It has to be my nasty, stinky FiveTenn Karver DH shoes. When I have these on, I know it’s gonna be a good day riding my bike with the crew.

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What didn’t fit : Kathryn Hornick

I met Kathryn Hornick through my stylist of many years, Justine Hornick. Both sisters work for Root Salons, and both are incredibly talented. I’ve been a TrendVision model for each of them, most recently for Kathryn.

The younger part of this dynamic duo, Kathryn is so enthusiastic for her profession. Her creativity seems endless, and she’s not afraid to push boundaries. I admire her for that! Read on for more about this brilliant artist.

Stylist Kathryn Hornick of Root Salons and Wella Professionals works with a model.

Stylist Kathryn Hornick of Root Salons and Wella Professionals works with a model at a hair competition.

Hey Kathryn! Tell us about you. 
I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin. It was on the edge of town, surrounded by woods on one side and fields on the other. To this day, I first look to nature for inspiration. It’s hard not to when that’s all you really knew.

I started at Aveda Institute Minneapolis in September 2010 and graduated in June 2011. I skipped out of my graduation ceremony that July, when the rest of my classmates finished. Instead, I enrolled at Sassoon Academy Chicago for a four-week intensive program, and then I started working at Root. I’ve now been at Root for two years. I started in our St.Paul salon, assisting my sister, Justine, before assisting the owner, Jim Koktavy. I was an assistant in St. Paul until December 2011, then Root Salons opened its second location in the Linden Hills neighborhood in Minneapolis. I became the first assistant under Jim, and began building my clientele that month.

In what city do you live?
I reside in Minneapolis—I just became a new resident in Uptown, trying out “apartment life” on my own. Besides being a stylist at Root, I am a hostess at Jax Cafe (EDITOR’S NOTE: Beware of music on home page) on the rare days when I’m not traveling and working for Wella Professionals. I’m an Independent Contractor for Wella, and I’m hoping to get more into educating for the company, but as of now, I am assisting backstage at hair shows and events.

How’d you end up at Root?
I was a very fortunate person. Justine was Root’s first assistant when she started, so when I announced that I was also going into hair, Jim held out on hiring a new assistant until I was all done with my schooling. (Connections really are helpful.)

Tell us about your accomplishments.
Some of my accomplishments started when I was in beauty school. Under the mentorship of Justine, I entered America’s Beauty Show’s Student Competition in spring of 2011 under the Wella category. I had to choose a trend from one of the four categories and interpret it in my own way. I used my other sister, Stacey, as a model, and entered two weeks prior to the competition. I ended up being a finalist and competed live in Chicago. We took first place! From there I was able to compete in Wella’s national TrendVision competition in Los Angeles in September 2011. I was able to use the same model and trend, and we walked away with the bronze award.

In 2012, I became a part of Team I.C.A.N. We were a team of five and competed, being fueled by Sebastian, in Orlando, Florida, at’s RAW competition. Competing against seven other manufactures in the U.S., we took first as the youngest, “rawest” team! It was probably one of the greatest experiences I have had thus far. I feel grateful for having been a part of it. As a team, we have had the awesome opportunity of being on two industry magazine covers, and being the featured spread in both ( Magazine and Magazine).

Kathryn on Magazine's cover

Tell us about TrendVision. 
TrendVision is a regional, national, and international competition that’s annually put on by Wella. There are four haute-couture trends released yearly for stylists to interpret in their own way. You choose a trend, find a model, create the look, and shoot with a photographer to submit a photo at the national level, with the hopes of becoming a finalist. You are judged on the overall look, but especially on the hair. If you win at the national level, you’re then a finalist for the international competition and compete against roughly 100 other countries. I was able to compete at the national level as a student, and took third place with the trend “Polaris” in 2011.

Who is your mentor?
I feel very fortunate to have known my mentor since birth! Justine took me under her wing ever since I announced that I planned to follow in her footsteps. It was very helpful to have her to go to, to compare experiences through beauty school, or swap inputs. I couldn’t ask for anyone better; someone who isn’t afraid to tell me how it is or push me past my limits.

Who in the industry do you admire?
Someone who I had admired since beauty school is Stephen Moody. He started his career following in his mother’s footsteps and trained with one of the greatest in the world, Vidal Sassoon. I first met Stephen when I won America’s Beauty Show Student Competition in 2011. I was so nervous and flabbergasted with how humble he was. I was able to take one of his last classes at Sassoon Academy before he left and became the Dean of Education for Wella. Now I get to work with and around Stephen at events for Wella, and I couldn’t feel any more blessed.

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What didn’t fit : Jeff Johnson

This month, I’m introducing you to my dad, Jeff Johnson. He makes my State Icon frames, builds the boxes that make my found frames into shadowboxes, and constructs many of my displays for my art-show table. He’s passionate about woodworking, and it shows in his work! Read on for more on the talented dude I am lucky to call my dad.

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Jeff Johnson, hard at work cutting frames for State Icons

Jeff Johnson, hard at work cutting frames for State Icons

Hey dad! Er, I mean, Jeff. Tell us about you. 
I’m married to my wife Kathy, and we will be celebrating my 40th wedding anniversary in January 2013. I also have two beautiful twin daughters. I grew up in southern Minnesota and moved to the St. Paul area 32 years ago. My education is in Electronics Technology, and I have worked mostly in the Customer Service field. In my early years, I move around the industry, and tried different fields, from medical to research to design, but for the last 28 years I have been in one company. I have spent about 20 years of that time building and developing the customer service reputation for my present company in the Asia Pacific, and have made numerous trips to that region.

 How and when did you start to become interested in woodworking? 
I’ve always been interested in woodworking, but when I was younger I didn’t have the money to really get into it, and while I was in Asia for weeks on end, I didn’t have the time. I quit traveling to Asia about three years ago, and rediscovered weekends—and my love for woodworking.

It really started one day when my wife and I were looking at new bedroom furniture. The furniture that we had was hand-me-down from my mother and father, and it was very ornate with many places for dust to settle. My wife wanted a clean design, without all the carving and dust-collecting areas. She really liked a Mission Style set that we saw at the furniture store, but neither of us liked the $3,000 price tag. I did not know it at the time, but my woodworking really started with the words, “I can build that cheaper,” and my wife replying with, “OK, build that set.” After the sawdust settled, I think the total cost of the set was more than $3,000 just in tools, but I now have some wonderful new tools, with which I have built lots of furniture, cabinets, shadowboxes, and many, many State Icon frames since then. [For more info on this frame-making process, read my blog post, Behind the art : The making of a State Icon.]

What is your specialty? 
My favorite pieces are those with straight lines. I don’t have a lathe (yet) so I stay away from projects with round pieces. I enjoy fitting mortise and tenon joinery. There is something very satisfying in fitting the pieces together after using that technique. I’m also getting much better at dovetail joinery. I do have to admit I make all my dovetails using power equipment.

Tell us about some jobs you’ve done recently.
Besides my own projects, I have taken on some very small to very big projects for others. The largest project that I have undertaken was to build a front desk area for Strike 3 Pitcher & Player Development in Bloomington. It consisted of about eight oak base cabinets topped with a Formica counter top. To save time and money, I purchased the base cabinets and hand made the selves, panels, and trim, and did the installation of the unit on site. I could dry fit and finish all all of the cabinets and panels in my shop, but the counter top had to be fit on the job site. My helper (wife) and I spent about eight hours putting the unit together on site. The biggest challenge to that project was to fit the counter top around a large square pole that was in one corner of the unit.

Another job was for clients that needed a single kitchen base cabinet made to fit a non-standard space. They purchased granite counter top, but needed a permanent cabinet addition to match the 1050s-style cabinets in their kitchen. They tried to find a contractor who would build them this three-drawer unit to match, but no one wanted to take on such a small job. They were talking to someone who knew of my work, and then contacted me. I fabricated and installed the cabinet, and the clients painted it to match their existing units. It looks like it has been there for years, but if you open the drawers, you will find that they are on heavy-duty, smooth-rolling, ball-bearing slides.

A sample of work by Jeff Johnson

A sample of work by Jeff Johnson

I have matched drawer fronts for another client, to replace the drawer fronts on a kitchen island he purchased. I have made coffee tables, children’s chairs, plant stands, benches, holiday decorations, and many custom wood-cutting jobs for almost every neighbor on my block. I open my shop door (garage door) when the weather is nice, and almost every day someone walks in holding either a piece of paper with a pencil drawing, or a piece of wood for me to cut, trim, or notch for them. I don’t mind the interruptions at all, and enjoy helping out the neighbors. Sometime they even come with a six-pack….

Tell us about the work you do for redshoes26 design. 
Kathy and I work together on the State Icon frames that redshoes26 design sells. We got into this work because the company that supplied her frames could not supply the quantity that she needed in a timely way. Once again my statement, “I can build them for you” got me into a large project. My wife and I enjoy making the frames when we can do it on our own schedule, but sometimes Christy’s sales rocket, and we have to pull double duty to get the frames ready. We like to make them in lots of 25, but have been thinking of changing that to 26….

I do the wood cutting and shaping, and I cut the glass and backs. My wife glues the frames together and hand-paints them. They have a smoother look when they are hand painted, so it’s worth the effort. We have made more than 1,000 frames in the past two years, and have the jigs and technique down, so the whole job is fairly flawless.

I also make and install the shadowboxes that hold Christy’s art. This is a project that I truly love. Since this is not a high-volume project, I do it when I feel like it, and always enjoy creating backs. Every frame that we use is different, and holds a unique challenge to fit and attach the box behind it. I don’t see the finished artwork installed in the frame until I go to one of the shows that redshoes26 design is involved in. Seeing one empty shadowbox at a time in my shop, and then seeing many of them hanging on the gallery wall…it’s a wonderful feeling. I go down the line looking at each one, and remember the time that I made and mounted the box behind the frame, and then I enjoy the artwork that Christy designed and installed into the simple box I made. That is very satisfying to me.

What have been some of your favorite jobs? 
That is a difficult question because all of my jobs are great. I do only the work that I really want to tackle, and throw everything I have into each one. I try to pick jobs that are a challenge and contain something I’ve never done before, like cutting a unique pattern, or making intricate joints, or making a piece that fits into a unique opening. I also like to take on jobs that use wood like walnut or maple. Something other than pine. Pine is OK if you are going to paint or stain it, but I like the look of natural wood.

What has been one of your most challenging jobs? 
The most challenging job was the desk unit for Strike 3. I had to trim a custom counter top to fit between a wall that was not square, and a post that was not square to the wall or truly square itself. I have never measured and remeasured so many times in my life. I had one chance to cut a $600 piece to fit. After marking the piece, I pulled out my trusty saw and make the cut. It fit, and you could hear the sigh all over town. The matching piece on the other side of the post did not join with a wall, so although that also was critical, it was not as painstaking as the first piece.

What makes you passionate about what you do? 
I think because I do take on interesting and challenging jobs, it keeps every project fresh, interesting, and fun to complete. Another thing I thrive on is to take someone’s idea or dream and make it a reality. One of the biggest joys is to see the smile on a client’s face when I deliver the project and it’s exactly what they wanted made. It’s very satisfying.

What’s your favorite tool to use and why?
My largest investment and favorite tool is my new table saw. It is from a manufacturer called SawStop located in Oregon, and it has an extra safety device built in that protects the operator if a body part makes contact with the spinning blade. It’s also a highly accurate and wonderful-to-work-with cabinet saw. It replaced a good Craftsman contractor’s saw and is in a whole different league than that saw. The Craftsman served its purpose as a general saw, and actually has a new life with another young woodworker. But for me it was time to move up. I really like the saw and highly recommend it.

Tell us about how you’ve gotten creative in your shop to save space. 
I say my wife parks her car in my shop, and she says I do woodworking in her garage. Fact is, we are both right. My truck has to live outside because my side of the attached garage is full of saws, router tables, and work benches of all kinds.

Everything in my shop is on wheels so I can back my wife’s car out and use the whole space for my shop. This works out well, and many of my work benches double as tool and equipment storage, or have rotating tops that hold multiple pieces of power equipment. It’s tight when it’s all put away, but can be set up to do work in minutes. It works well, but I do get a lecture whenever I drag sawdust into the kitchen. I keep forgetting to wipe my feet or take off my shop apron, which is always full of sawdust and wood shavings.

Would you say your background in engineering plays into your work? If so, how?
I think the math and electronics I studied in school help me. I use geometry and math almost every time I use the shop. Calculating angles, figuring dimensions, and also calculating space and space requirements [are all helpful]. I also think being in the field has made me more inquisitive about how things work and has given me the ability to fix things when they break. I’m a builder, an inventor, and a problem solver. I don’t know if that’s just in my character, but I would guess that studying engineering skills has complemented my own personality.

 What aspirations do you have for your work? 
Right now, I work a full time job that is very time consuming. Woodworking and my projects take a backseat in my busy life. I hope to retire from my job about 13 months from now, and that will give me the opportunity to work on projects full time if I decide that’s what I want to do. I really love woodworking, remodeling, and building, so I think I will ramp that up when I have the time to fully concentrate on the work. One thing I don’t think I’ll ever do is just rest. I have too many things that I want to do and build to just sit around.

What would a dream job be? 
To own a large wood shop filled with others who enjoy woodworking as much as I do. It would be a place where people could go to have handcrafted pieces built, or maybe even use the equipment to build their project themselves. This is a big dream, and I have no idea if it’s even practical, but I’m a firm believer that if you dream something long and hard enough, you can make it happen.

What else would you like to add? 
I want to thank you for the opportunity to be featured in redshoes news. I enjoy working on the projects you dream up, and manufacturing your frames. Actually, I have some boards in the shop to slice up for the next batch of 200, so I better stop writing and get to work.

For more information on Jeff or to simply “talk shop” with him, send an email to

What didn’t fit : redshoes news annual gift guide

Some of my favorite local entrepreneurs share an object or an offer they think would make a fantastic gift for someone on your holiday list. In addition, they also give props to a local person or business they swoon over. Want a deal on the items you’re about to read about? Several of them offered discounts for readers of my monthly email, redshoes news. Want in? Then subscribe here! Just one email a month, always packed with fun updates, profiles, and news & event details.

But read on for some of my favorite local businesspeople and their cool gift ideas. And happy shopping!


angelbomb design + letterpress, the airship, todd thyberg

GREAT GIFT: The Airship, a digitally enhanced letterpress graphic novel
PRICE: Chapbook $150; deluxe hardbound, slip-cased edition $350
DETAILS: This limited edition graphic novel features modern tech fused with vintage letterpress tech. It’s great for techno geeks and letterpress aficionados.
FIND IT: and Minnesota Center for Book Arts
LOCAL CRUSH: Worker B lotions. They’re local and one of my clients, and the products are amazing.



GREAT GIFT: doggystyle, a luxury dog grooming bar
PRICE: $17 for 6 oz.; $5 for 1.5 oz.
DETAILS: It’s for your pooch. It’s great for their skin and fur, especially for dogs with skin allergies.
LOCAL CRUSH: The Elixery lipsticks. They are the first company to make a 100% natural lipstick that actually performs as well as non-natural lipstick.


dc ice

GREAT GIFT: Framed 5 x 7 original, illustrative, pet portrait paintings
PRICE: $200
DETAILS: Email me a picture of your animal friend, along with their personality traits, and I will immortalize them! You can be as specific as you want—request a color theme, mood, or even your pet’s name. If you would like to surprise yourself, I’ll gift-wrap your painting so you won’t be able to peek at it until later.
FIND IT: www.dcice.comAZ Gallery, and Gallery 360
LOCAL CRUSH: AZ Gallery will have a holiday shop in December. Purchasing handmade gifts here is a great way to support local artists!


jen shaffer, painted fish studio

GREAT GIFT: My new art book of Polaroid photographs, titled chairs : a polaroid collection
PRICE: $19.95
DETAILS: Many of the Polaroid photographs of chairs were taken in St. Paul, in addition to New York, California, Amsterdam, and more!
FIND IT: It comes out in November, so you can pre-order in my Etsy shop.
LOCAL CRUSH: Classic Retro @ Pete’s in St. Paul is my steady source of chair inspiration.


julie ann segal

GREAT GIFT: Interior design consultation gift certificates
PRICE: Prices range from $125 to $165 per hour, plus applicable taxes. Price depends on specific designer.
DETAILS: These are great gifts to give to someone who has just moved into a new home or who needs to remodel or refresh their space. Design consultations could include discussing ideas for a fresh new look, paint-color selection, furniture and/or accessory rearrangement, and where and how to hang art.
FIND IT:, call Julie Ann at 952-920-2827, or email


karoline wells, the elixery, dessa lipstick

GREAT GIFT: “Dessa” lipstick
PRICE: $18
DETAILS: This lipstick shade is universally flattering, and was custom designed for Dessa of Doomtree by Emmy Award winning makeup artist Crist Ballas. Dessa has chosen to donate her portion of the profits to CARE, a charity that educates and empowers women in developing countries.
LOCAL CRUSH: Accessories by Post-. Lois and Katie are both art historians, and a great deal of care and attention goes into their designs. Not only that, they’re really ethical business people, and their products are high-quality and produced locally.

louise harris, lhoriginals

GREAT GIFT: One-of-a-kind pieces made of recycled aluminum
PRICE: Prices start at $100
DETAILS: The art is created from recycled furnace filters, and all of the profits are donated.
FIND IT: www.lhoriginals.comThree Rooms, and Paper Hat
LOCAL CRUSH: Project SuccessCan Do CaninesMinnesota Justice Foundation…these are just a few of the non-profits that have received donations from my profits, because they do really fabulous things for the betterment of others.


megan moore, commemorate the date

GREAT GIFT: Commemorate the Date 2013 Wall Calendar
PRICE: $30
DETAILS: Features artwork from Commemorate the Date oil paintings. It includes the story behind each painting, and it doubles as a new piece of art to display each month.
LOCAL CRUSH: Mother Earth Gardens. They’ve been carrying my prints and note cards for two years, and are wonderful to work with. More than a garden shop, they have a great gift selection, too. The owner and employees are so nice and helpful.


christy johnson, redshoes26 design, state icons

GREAT GIFT: Set of three State Icon illustrations
PRICE: $70
DETAILS: Choose any three State Icons from my series—mix and match states and/or cities.
LOCAL CRUSH: Someday I will own a carving by David Ekdahl. His work looks simple at first glance, but when you spend some time with it, you begin noticing the incredible detail he’s put into each piece. I love the mood his carvings convey. Plus, David is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet!

Want more? Contact each entrepreneur for more information on their gift ideas.