Carla Gentile: Kenosha Roots, LA Style

Owner of Harper Salon and Steam Products


What was the transition like from Kenosha, WI to Los Angeles?

My first stop was Chicago which was the perfect intro to a bigger city. But nothing like Los Angeles. I remember arriving in LA and feeling how big it was. Even the sky felt bigger. It wasn’t difficult for me because I was ready for the challenge and excited to learn and grow as a person and in my career.

How did growing up in K-Town help or hinder finding success in Hollywood?

Growing up in Kenosha, in the Midwest kept me grounded. LA is a big place and there are all kinds of characters out there. Some good, some not so good. I always felt, “to survive in LA you have to have a strong sense of who you are as a person.” I’ve always been grateful for my upbringing and close knit community from the Midwest. That really help shape who I am at the core.

We need some name dropping please any “big names” you have worked with?

Harper Salon, is one of the top salons in Los Angeles and we are known for being a down to earth salon with a low key vibe. That means our high profile (celebrity) clientele can feel comfortable and know that no one is going to bother them when they are getting their hair done. That said, I’ve worked with Lawrence Zarian on quite a few make-overs for The Doctors and other shows. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with Eugene Simon, Judy Reyes, Allison Hollker, & Sarah Hudson. Some other names who visit the salon are Alesso, Rene Zellweger, Shannon Leto, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange and more.

Your business is as much about humanity as it is about style, can you further discuss that subject?

Hairdressing for me has always been deeper than just style or fashion. That’s why I really love being in a salon. I love the salon vibe, a place where people transform, a place where our clients feel good and are inspired to try new looks. I love helping people to create their personal style which gives them confidence to excel in their careers and personal lives.

How have things changed for you most since you first arrived on the west coast?

One difference in being on the west coast especially Los Angeles is the openness and acceptance to be who you are. I love the vast types of people I meet on a daily basis. Living on the west coast has given me the space and inspiration to reach really high in my career and my personal growth. There are so many cultures living right next to each other that are intertwined that it expands your awareness of the world. I feel like I can make a difference in the world through creative outlets, like beauty and fashion.

How often do you get back home?

I’ve been in LA for 28 years now. In the beginning I made it back at least once a year but  lately I’ve been able to get back here 3-4 times a year.

How often does “K-Town Wisconsin USA” come up in normal conversation?

You’d be surprised at how many people have driven through Kenosha or know of it because of various things like; Summerfest, the outlet malls, Mars Cheese Castle and the UW schools. We’ve also been mentioned on That 70’s Show and in the Weezer video, Buddy Holly!! We’re on the map for sure.

I usually begin with saying I’m from the Chicago area and if someone is familiar then Kenosha comes up. It’s fun when I’m doing a client for a first time and find out they grew up close to Kenosha. I actually had a client once who grew up in Illinois and used to go to the Brat Stop around the same years I did, so that was fun to compare memories.

What is on the horizon for Carla Gentile?

The future for me?….. well if everything goes as planned I’ll be on your show again soon talking about my beauty project, Steam Products. Harper Salon will continue to be the go to salon for healthy hair and healthy vibes. And while I’m working on those businesses, I’m volunteering with The School on Wheels, after school tutoring for homeless children, and mentoring programs at The Union Rescue Mission both DTLA.