Twenty years ago, Bennie Pollard was being advised to stay away from Frankfort Avenue if he wanted to open a successful fashion-forward salon. Two product lines, two North American Hairstyling Awards, and hundreds of delighted clients later, the award winning salon Hair by Bennie and Friends has proven its ability to rise above the naysayers. Bennie fell in love with hairdressing and after a brief stint in Miami, he returned to Louisville and his family and friends. In 1992 Bennie decided to open his own salon. Only two years after the salon’s opening, it was recognized as one of the most architecturally innovative salons in the country, receiving a Special Distinction Award in the Salon of the Year competition held annually by Modern Salon Magazine. In the late 90’s Glamour magazine recognized Bennie’s as one the Best Salons in the United States.
Bennie has also reached great heights when it comes to his individual recognitions. In 1995, Bennie was inspired to compete in the prestigious North American Hairstyling Awards. He became a finalist his first time. He was nominated twice in 1997 and again in 2000. A total of five nominations later he was named the Hairstylist of the Year in the Avant-Garde category in 2003 and again in 2007, this time in the Contemporary Classic category.
Always up for a challenge, Bennie decided to launch a product line together with his wife and business partner, Maria: BennieFactor. Like Bennie himself, BennieFactor sets itself apart from other beauty products on the market by promoting inner beauty and health rather than relying on sex appeal. Each bottle features a quote by such intellectuals as Walt Whitman and Charles Dickens and received an ABBIES award for best product design in 2003. Eager to include the men, Bennie and Maria also launched a men’s line, Gage for Men, which is dedicated to helping each man perfect his style, whatever that style may be.
If redefining beauty standards doesn’t keep Bennie busy enough, he’s always been an instrumental figure and a pioneer in the revitalization of the Frankfort Avenue corridor. The salon, originally in a shotgun-style house, is now an icon as fashionable as Bennie and his staff. Bennie’s passion for the area is inspiring other businesses to follow suit and along with those businesses, breathing new life into the Frankfort Avenue area.
We at Louisville.com would like to wish Hair by Bennie and Friends a Happy Twentieth Anniversary. If you haven’t experienced the hidden treasure of Bennie and Friends on Frankfort Avenue, you’ve got a lot of fun and stylish catching up to do. The styling world has taken notice a long time ago. Though they’re celebrating their Twentieth Anniversary, Bennie and his friends are sure to continue delighting and inspiring for years to come.
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