You could say hair stylist Daniel James Gamsky ran into the idea for his business.
On a jog through Downtown, Gamsky’s running partner suggested he look at available space in a building she and her husband owned. They detoured their workout to the historic Drew Building on Bay Street to take a look.
“My friend said, ‘Why don’t you clean it up, set up a chair and see what happens?'” said Gamsky.
The year was 1995, and within the next few weeks, he did just that – opened the doors of Daniel James Salon on the building’s third level with one chair and one assistant.
It was just the two of them for six years. “Then, a friend wanted to come and work,” Gamsky said, “and the next thing I knew, I had employees.”
Twenty years, a staff of 12 and a second location in Avondale later, Gamsky is thankful for the success Downtown has provided his team for the last two decades.
A full-service salon, Daniel James Salon offers everything from simple cuts and colors to wedding updos, waxing, hand massages, manicures and make-up tutorials. (By the way, if you need a referral, several DVI ladies are clients of Daniel James Salon!) Services are offered in a range of prices, based on each stylist’s level of Aveda training. The salon uses only Aveda’s organic, plant-based products and has housed a retail shop on the first level since 2007.
As the owner of a businesses that provides both services and a retail shop – somewhat of a rarity Downtown – Gamsky hopes his salon has helped cultivate a true urban-core neighborhood.
“Downtown is a community,” he said. “When I walk next door, I know everybody at the bank. You can’t walk Downtown without having a conversation with somebody.”
In January, the salon expanded its hours to include every other Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. But the salon’s hours aren’t the only expansions on Gamsky’s mind. He’s eying the remainder of the third level of the building – his business only occupies half at this time. The lease is locked in, Gamsky said, and he plans to apply for the Downtown Retail Enhancement Program to help turn the space into a true urban oasis of relaxation and pampering.
“Of all these 20 years, now is the time,” Gamsky said. “There’s always been an energy here, but it’s been untapped. There is such an urban feel, and I really believe that Downtown has the potential to be a destination.”
Above all, working Downtown makes him feel more connected to his city.
“The only thing that Downtown is missing for people that aren’t here is you,” he said. “I live in Mandarin. I’ve worked in Mandarin. When I discovered Downtown, I finally felt like I was a part of Jacksonville.” He said his favorite thing to do Downtown is a simple one: roll the top down on his car and take a drive.
“Every time I go over the Main Street Bridge, I want to yell, ‘I love Downtown!'”
And we love that Daniel James Salon has been part of Downtown for 20 years – and counting.