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Inspiring Conversations with Christina Kirkey of Pinup Studio

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christina Kirkey.

Hi Christina, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Born and raised here in Raleigh, I was your typical girly girl. I loved creating my own salon and spa at home, making my mom and dad sit as I painted their nails, applied their makeup and played with their hair. As I got older, I turned to my friends as my guinea pigs. The closer to graduation, I knew the path I was going to take would not be your average teenagers.

Graduating high school early to attend cosmetology school jump-started my life. While in cosmetology school, I had a dream to open up my own salon with my dad. Although I lost my dad halfway through school, I still had the mission of fulfilling our dream. After getting my feet wet and working in multiple salons, I opened my own one chair studio in 2015. For three years, I learned, grew, failed and grew some more so that I could figure out exactly the type of salon and culture I wanted to create. In December 2018, I expanded from a one chair studio to a ten chair salon, which was previously a male-owned barbershop. After meeting with the owner, Randy, and explaining to him my love for pink, he agreed to sell it to me. Randy is still a stylist at Pinup Studio and he also now loves pink. From there, we have again learned, grew, failed and grew some more. Since our expansion, we have become fully staffed, not only in salon but also adding on a freelance team to help with our bridal department. We have a staff I could only dream of with genuine people here to create magic and a safe place for everyone. A badass girl gang keeping their arms wide open to any trial that comes our way and ready to embrace everyone in our circle.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Not. At. All. Like any small business owner with every big win comes multiple losses. I lost the clientele I had and started with only a handful of clients. It took me well over three years to actually build up the clientele and many 12-13 hour days. Wanting to be taken seriously but just having my own private studio and wanting to brand myself as a full-blown company got hard. I maxed out my time behind the chair and I needed to expand. I had no business plan just a dream and a mission so I went into my expansion completely blind on what to do or expect. My kindness has been taken advantage of by many so being a newer “boss” I just wanted to see the good in everyone. I’ve lost plenty of relationships, money and time on people I gave a lot to. I think it be easier for me to write a novel on what NOT to do. But I don’t like to harp on the bad stuff too much.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Pinup Studio?
We are building a community and a sense of place for women of all different backgrounds, sizes, and ethnicities, to feel welcomed, heard and loved. No matter who walks through our door, we want them to walk back out of it feeling just as beautiful on the outside as they do on the inside. When we say ‘Support your Local Girl Gang’, we mean it. You’ll find Pinup Studio supporting and cheering on all women and local businesses in the Raleigh area. When Christina envisioned Pinup Studio, she saw a place at her table for everyone. Our team is diverse and specializes in everything from lashes, hair cutting, hair color, hair extensions, brows, makeup and bridal. We are an award-winning salon with Midtown Magazine, Indy Week, WRAL, News and Observer, and NALA. We pride ourselves on our customer satisfaction, continued monthly education and always going the extra mile.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
Stay true to your mission and never let anyone who hasn’t gone through what you’re going through tell you how to run your business.

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Website:
  • Instagram: Pinupstudio_nc
  • Facebook: Pinupstudionc

Image Credits
Cherie Lynne Photography

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