Some days, Omaha stylist Kirby Keomysay uses shears and a blow – dryer to make women look beautiful. Other days, he uses chicken wire, hot glue and Styrofoam.
Keomysay, owner of Kontempo salon, has mastered the spectrum of hair styling. He’ll give women a killer blowout during Kontempo’s Happy Hour Fridays. But armed with unconventional styling tools, the Grand Island native can also create fantasy, avant-garde hairpieces that are true works of arts: A tree that towers whimsically 3 feet above a mod – el’s head, or a Lady Gaga-inspired hair piano topped with a piece of meat in the shape of Nebraska.
FROM FANTASY HAIR TO EVERYDAY ’DOS, STYLIST KEEPS OMAHA ON THE LEADING EDGE
Keomysay’s fantasy styles earned him the top prize on the Oxygen network’s “Hair Battle Spectacular: Season 2” in 2011. The competition pitted Keomysay against 10 other top stylists from across the country to see who could deliver the biggest, most outlandish fantasy hair for a $100,000 prize. Finally able to wield his glue gun with no qualms about cleaning up the mess later, Keomysay pushed himself to the limits and created pieces like the Gaga piano. The prize money he earned helped build Kontempo, where he and a team of stylists bring modern style to an eager West Omaha clientele. But it might not have turned out so beautifully. The night before Keomy – say’s flight to California, he had serious doubts about his ability. He was in his room, trying to recreate a Season 1 style featuring a coiffed red barn. He couldn’t do it.
“I was going to call the casting agent and say I couldn’t make it, because I didn’t think I was good enough,” he said. “I was about to give up. I didn’t know what I was doing.”
He went anyway, and the judges recognized his craftsmanship, presentation and drive to do better. While fantasy hair was then a new arena for Keomysay, he had been around salons since he was young. In his teens, he helped his stylist uncle at a Bellevue salon, shampooing or sweeping up hair – or steeling away to the backroom to cut crazy styles on mannequins. At age 15, Keomysay opened his first salon in his parents’ basement. His work began gaining recognition. After graduating from the Capitol School of Hairstyling in 2006, he won a presti – gious North American Hairstyling Award in the student category. The “Hair Battle Spectacular” win gave him the confidence (and financing) to make the next move, and Kontempo opened a store – front in 2011. “I thought it was a dream to open a salon at the age of 25,” Keomysay said. “But now that I’ve actually accomplished it, I realize it was just a goal along the way.” Future goals include lifting up the Kirby Keomysay and Kontempo brands through social media, where you’ll find him tweeting about a new Omaha restaurant or posting a tutorial on how to do a fishtail braid. Around town, one sees Kontempo’s handiwork on display at weddings (the salon styles brides and bridesmaids for more than 50 weddings a year), during Omaha Fashion Week and on-location for special events.
owner and stylist, Kontempo
With a finger on the pulse of fashion, food and Omaha’s social scene, Keomysay offers clients not just a haircut. He’s a lifestyle Sherpa who can also cut a wicked ‘do.
Despite what outsiders may believe, Keomysay affirms that Omahans are a fashion-forward people with an eclectic mix of styles and sensibilities. He enjoys bringing new ideas and concepts to push Omaha’s style ahead, while also providing a service that makes people feel good.
“I like to make people feel beautiful,” Keomysay said. “Nothing is better than to have people walk in and leave the salon feeling 80 times better. That makes me happy to know I’m doing something good.”