■ BY SUE ERWIN
Stephanie Sprinkle has been working as a cosmetologist at James Griffith Salon on the island for the past five years.
She specializes in French hairstyles and is a master at applying airbrush makeup.
“My favorite part of the job is getting to know my clients,” she said. “May and October are my busiest months, because they are the most popular for weddings, and I enjoy working with the bridal parties; it’s so much fun.”
Stephanie said the salon has an excellent relationship with The Gasparilla Inn & Club, and the stylists enjoy working at the beach club.
“We work with our clients and try our best to make sure they’re comfortable,” Stephanie said. “If a bride just wants to relax in her room before the ceremony, we will bring everything to her and do her hair and makeup right there.”
Right now Stephanie works on Wednesdays and Saturdays in Boca Grande and two days a week at the Venice salon.
And, of course, her hours change drastically in season.
Stephanie is from a small town called Byron Center near Grand Rapids, Michigan.
After high school she immediately started working at a bakery and became fascinated with the art of cake decorating.
She carefully watched the other decorators, and in her spare time she started creating themed cakes depicting roses, animals and even an outboard motorboat.
When the bakery owners heard about it, they promoted her to cake decorator. She did that for 14 years.
Stephanie moved to Florida in 2007 because she wanted a fresh start. After packing up her belongings, she moved to Bradenton, where she found work at a bakery and then landed a job as a master cake artist at Publix for a couple of years.
But in the back of her mind, she wanted to pursue a new career. “I’ve always wanted to do hair,” she said. “I enjoyed what I was doing, but I wanted to try something different.”
One day, after getting a haircut at James Griffith Salon, she realized she wanted to become a hair stylist. She was so impressed with the professional level of the staff at the salon that she immediately knew she wanted to work there.
“They really worked well as a team, and they were all so talented,” she said. “Up until then, no one ever knew just quite how to cut my curly hair, and the stylist did a great job.”
She decided to enroll in night school at Meridian Career Institute in Sarasota to study cosmetology while she was still working at Publix.
She applied for an apprentice position at James Griffith Salon and interviewed for a position in Boca Grande, even though she had never been to the island before.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes the first time I came over that bridge – it was unbelievably gorgeous.”
Stephanie said an apprentice is basically like an assistant who works with someone more experienced while learning how to become a better stylist.
Two years after she started at the salon, she began taking clients on her own. Five years later, she is still enjoying the job every day.
“The girls here are like family, and James is just a wonderful person to work with – he’s so much fun,” she said.
Stephanie has traveled to Atlanta, Denver and California to participate in educational seminars.
She also educates the newer stylists on Mondays with Sierra Cunningham, another senior stylist at the salon. The two attended a French hairstyling seminar sponsored by L’Oreal in Paris last May.
“We were given the opportunity by James to go to Paris, and the experience was life-changing,” Stephanie said. “It was so beautiful there – the culture, the architecture and the people were so fashionable. It was just fabulous.”
Alexander de Paris, a well-known stylist for the royal family, led the training on French haircutting trends.
“French hair styling is unique; it’s difficult to explain, because the focus is to compliment the features of the individual.”
Stephanie and Sierra will be returning to Paris again for another week of training in September.
Around the salon, Stephanie is known as “Sprinkle” – a nickname she’s had for years.
“Imagine being a cake decorator and having that as your nickname,” she said with a laugh.
Stephanie is also a makeup artist and is a master at applying airbrush makeup.
“It’s the most flawless look that you can possibly get,” she said. “I already had my trigger finger down from airbrushing frosting on cakes, so I thought applying makeup that way would be very natural.”
Other services offered at the salon include manicures, pedicures and facials.
When she is not working, Stephanie enjoys going out with her friends and especially celebrating brunch on Sundays with the girls.
She also enjoys oil painting. She said painting is a lot like cake decorating: It’s like an art. You brush the paint on slowly, it takes time to dry, and then it becomes something unique.
“I’ve always painted ever since I was a little kid, but it’s all just rookie work,” she said. “And oil paint is so much like applying frosting; to me it’s almost the same concept.”
She likes to paint colorful pieces and recently finished a painting of waves that is now on display in the living room in her home.
She also enjoys shopping whenever possible.
She’s fascinated with flying but it stresses her out, so it’s not one of her favorite things. “It just makes me very uncomfortable,” she said.
Her favorite part about working in Boca Grande is getting to know all of the people and catching up with her clients on a regular basis.
“They’re all very incredible people. Some of them are authors and others are inventors – and they’re some of the nicest people I have ever met.”
Stephanie enjoys spending time with the salon staff during her off-hours, because they are all close friends and treat each other like family.
“We hang out all the time, and James is like one of the coolest people I know,” Stephanie said. “The other day we played bass guitar together at his house. I had never played before, and he taught me some chords.”
Stephanie currently lives in North Port with her roommate and her three 14-year-old rescued cats: Cookie Monster, Oreo and Cheesepoof.
“I brought them with me when I moved from Michigan,” she said. “It was July and the air conditioner was broken … they were real troopers.”
Since she moved to Florida, all of her close friends from Michigan have come down to visit. She recently took a vacation up north as well.
Stephanie is usually booked a year in advance for weddings, so if you’re planning one, be sure to contact her as soon as possible.
You can reach Stephanie at James Griffith Salon on the Island, located inside the Gasparilla Inn Beach Club at Gilchrist and 5th Street.