Passion. Innovation. Leadership.
For Darlene Crnkovic, these principles are not business aspirations; they are simply a way of life.
dk.envy | Calgary, Alberta
How did you get your start in the beauty industry?
I’ve always been around the hair industry my mother was a hairstylist. So it was in my genes! I grew up in salons and I was always interested in anything beauty. I was the friend who would have to dress you up, do your makeup and style your hair. I’ve never been able to look at someone and not want to show them, through the power of hair and makeup, just how beautiful they are. However I admit I always said I wasn’t going to do hair – Lol!
I saw first hand from my mother how much sacrifice goes into being a successful stylist. However every career I looked into bored me! So I thought I would start off in hair, see where it would take me.
I found myself enrolling in my cities best hair college at 19 years old. I never dreamed then, that I’d become a Salon Owner with an amazing team of twelve. As they say the rest is shear history!
Do you think growing up as the daughter of a stylist offered you a unique perspective of the hair industry?
I do think it gave me a different perspective and an edge for sure! I grew up around the business and spent my childhood in hair salons with stylists. They were always teaching me the latest looks and techniques. This for sure gave me a head start, especially in the blow dry department. So here I am, a hairstylist for 20 years and I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything else.
I don’t think anyone can argue the fact that Vidal Sassoon had a huge impact on the craft. He transformed the profession of a hair stylist and turned it into an art.
What impact do you think social media has had on the hair industry?
Social media is huge!
If you want to affect and touch as many people as you can you must play along! Social media is what will help to keep you relevant. It is a necessary tool to let the world know you and see the impact of your craft.
It’s about creating, pursuing and connecting new friendships. I can’t speak for anyone else, but social media is used in our salon as a way to show our hearts and passion. So our future guests can get a preview of what we are about.
We also share the looks of our guests – to prove just how HOT they ARE!!!
Every time I post a picture of my client/model, they express how special they feel! It’s my way to showcase them beyond our appointment. It’s gotten so great that some of our clientele are inspired to bring a change of clothes for the Instagram photo shoot after! Lol, it’s amazing!
I love the look of the salon, what was the inspiration behind the design?
The salon design is my soul! It looks like the interior of my house actually, I created a casual comfortable and chic space. Where my guests could feel like they were at their girlfriends house getting their hair done. It showcases our personalities.
It’s soft with an edge.
We pride ourselves as a team that is truly a family. You can feel this when you enter. I believe that’s what makes us different!
We are also known as having a chromed out Harley Davidson in the centre of the salon. Its pretty bad ass! Really it screams “take your coat off relax, we’re cool, and we are going to do everything possible to make you love your service today!”
If you ever visit us we have a sign hanging that says “Enter as strangers..leave as friends!” It’s our motto and couldn’t be more true.
You will also find every type of tea, sweet treats, good reads and our journey in pictures. We hang them on “The Wall of Fame” so we can share who we are and let our guests know us better. It’s a place to come and be env’d!
How has the dk.envy brand evolved over the years?
Actually dk.envy almost didn’t happen. I was diagnosed with a collapsed wrist just as my career was booming at the age of 23 and I was told to stop doing hair by two orthopedic surgeons.
Ya right – HAIR is my PASSION!
So I decided to be a rebel and open my own Salon. Choosing to not give up, I opened my first incarnation of dk.envy in my home, but my hands were really starting to fail me. In case I couldn’t do hair in the near future, I knew I needed to be around it. So I built a salon. That was the defining moment where dk.envy was born!
Finally I found a surgeon that would perform surgery. It took four months to heal. I learned to use my hand again, then set my path building the dk.envy team and brand.
I reached capacity in my first 1000/sq foot salon in 3.5 years. Crazy! So I decided I had to create a bigger space. It’s a 1900/sq foot boutique salon, full of beauty, passion and everything hair. We now house a team of 12 of the most amazing and warm stylists! I’m so lucky to say most of my team has been with me for 7 to 12 years now. It’s amazing!
By creating this culture, we were gifted by our community and recognized for it. We’ve been Calgary’s choice for best salon and we have been fortunate to be recognized by The Top Choice Awards – rated as one of the top 3 salons In our city for 4 years straight. Most importantly, we grew as a family and we built a great reputation.
I was a little girl, with a little space, who had real big dreams! While the brand grows – so do we! dk.envy is forever evolving and we don’t see ourselves slowing down anytime soon!
Like fashion this industry is always evolving, how do you keep abreast of trends and techniques of the craft?
Being the leader of my salon, it is my responsibility to keep us fresh and current. This is what’s so fun about what I do.
I’m a Trendsetter with L’Oréal Professional, so I travel twice a year to be with my peers where we learn from the best team in Canada. We spend three days in a room full of creatives and we share, style and create! We examine the latest trends and evaluate where fashion is moving. Learning the latest techniques for Fall/Winter – Spring/Summer every season, every year.
I bring Master Classes to my team at least four times per year, travel and take advantage of a lot of great hair shows around the world and spend time trying to stay apparent on social media.
I have been fortunate to be nominated five times through Behind The Chair – one of the biggest hair shows in the world. I get to see first hand the best talent on the planet, with new creative ideas and like minded individuals.
It allows me to keep my mind open. It gives me the privilege to be a part of something bigger than myself.
I also was fortunate to also style hair in New York city this past September for Fashion Week. We were styling hair for designers for S/S 2018, so this definitely helps to keep dk.envy ahead of what’s happening!
Instagram is my favorite form of inspiration. It allows me to connect with the entire globe. I love to see pictures of everything hair and fashion! It has brought about some amazing opportunities for me and has nurtured some great friendships – like ours!
You wear many hats – stylist, leader, salon owner but you are also active from out behind the chair. What inspires you as an editorial artist?
My first passion will always be my baby dk.envy and the ladies that have dedicated themselves to creating our style emporium, but editorial is something that calls to me!
I see inspiration everywhere and in everything.
Most of my inspiration, when creating an image and style, comes from an experience I’ve had. It allows me to be in a make believe world – to tell a story to my viewer. If given a concept, I do my homework and come up with my own interpretation.
Editorial and session styling allows me to create and watch the visions that are continuously in my head materialize, and see the fruition of it all come together. It’s where I can feed my inner artist!
I try to only work with a team I enjoy and do shoots if it’s going to be fun – it HAS to be fun and inspiring! Being in sync with other creatives working together as a team is so addictive!
The beauty industry has an amazing reputation for always taking the time to pay it forward – whether it is through community support or mentorship. How do you foster this in your salon?
We are a salon that is very involved in our community. The people of our city are why we are successful!
We participate in various local charities such as The Mother’s Day Run and Walk, Locks of Love, Shave Your Lid for a Kid, World Vision and The Ronald McDonald House. We also volunteer our services and time to countless community sports teams and organizations.
I don’t believe we have ever turned down an opportunity or request to give back!
What is the best part of your profession?
This is a tough question – I have so many answers. I am passionate about it all.
If I have to answer with one response I’d say it’s the moment that I turn my guest towards the mirror to see their reflection when I’m done styling.
This moment when they realize how beautiful they are. This is my biggest high! Proving how hot you are is the best gift. xo
Do you have a daily beauty routine?
My daily beauty routine is like most women: shower, hair, makeup, outfit. Over the years, I have learned to pull it together quickly – Lol. I love the end result of getting ready but I like the process to be fast!
I don’t wash my hair everyday I try to make my blow-dry last three days. The first day I wear it straight and over the next two days I work with it — I add a few texture waves and of course L’Oréal Professionals dry shampoo. I can’t express how happy I am that casual, natural, undone hair is so on trend — I have it to a science!
I do believe in taking at least 15 minutes out of your morning to treat yourself to a bit of beauty and prepping.
It’s not cliché. Look good, feel good — it’s healthy for your soul!
What are some of your hair and make-up must haves?
For sure my must have is Jane Iredale Mineral Makeup. It’s the number one mineral makeup in the world, and it’s been approved by the Skin Cancer Foundation. This makeup line is super safe and works with your natural oils to actually look better the longer you wear it. It’s got great coverage without feeling heavy – a great brand for the busy girl that doesn’t have time to reapply throughout the day.
My favorite all time hair product is L’Oréal Professional’s MythicOil. I call it heaven in a bottle! Not only does it heal the hair and offer heat protection, it’s what helps me to not have frizzy, head banging hair! It’s truly a gift in the world of products.
As well, I love Kevin.Murphy’s BEDROOM.HAIR. It smells like cotton candy and creates so much texture in my hair while keeping it manageable. Gotta love a product that makes being lazy look good.
These are my MUSTS!
How would you describe your personal style?
Hmm — my personal style is probably described as a boho biker chick – maybe? Lol!
I dress and style my hair like I am a 60’s-70’s child. I love the natural girl next door kind of look.
My other alter ego loves a little “rocker-chic” I love to wear kick-ass jeans, boots and leather in some form. My thing is to be casual and then dress up the hair and makeup. Like most babes out there, I do like to dress up every once in a while and try to act like a lady – sexy yet elegant!
Sometimes I go edgy and other days I go soft and feminine. It’s fun to be a woman!
Mostly I choose what look I’m going for by the mood I’m in that day and also what fits! I’ve never been able to pack outfits specifically on a trip like some can. I just take my fave pieces, always over pack and go with how I’m feeling that day! So I guess you could say I’m a moody dresser!
What is your favorite way to pamper yourself?
I’m lucky. I’m around the beauty industry daily with a great team of professionals that have skills. I know first hand how important it is to be good to yourself and the benefits from taking care of yourself!
One service, I think highly overlooked is facials. I do this once a month, it’s a must!
My second favorite way to pamper is a pedicure. We stand as Stylists for most of our lives, so I like to take care of my toes.
I also think good wine and eats are so important. I eat healthy and I swear that when you treat your tummy as a temple you function to your highest level! It is a perfect platform that effects everything skin, health, focus etc. So I pamper myself by fueling my body with the right eats.
Last but not least, I surround myself with amazing people. They feed my spirit daily!
Finally – what three words describe you best?