Trend Setters putting hairstyling school under one roof

The longtime operators of an Anchorage hairstyling school are building a new, larger facility adjacent to its Midtown location.

The new two-story, 12,700-square-foot building for Trend Setters School of Beauty will be a contrast for the employees, students and customers who now shuttle between four buildings including a Quonset hut, said company owner Dennis Millhouse.

"I never knew how bad we needed space until we started this project," he said.

Dennis and Connie Millhouse have owned and operated Trend Setters at the same Anchorage location for 30 years. Last April they began preparations for the project and hired Anchorage architects at Kumin Architects Inc. to design it.

Construction on the $2 million expansion began in early October, said Jeff Pfile, a partner with Sandvik Pfile Construction Inc., the project’s general contractor.

Work should be completed by April and ready for Trend Setters staff to move in, Pfile said. Next, construction workers will demolish the old buildings and build a 5,000-square-foot building, he said.

By mid-January workers were due to finish enclosing the structure, Pfile said.

In the late 1980s the Millhouses tried to build a new facility but were thwarted by banking upheaval in the state.

The current project is financed by KeyBank, said Dennis Millhouse, who has lived in Alaska since 1952.

The new building will more than double space for Trend Setters. Currently, the company operates in three buildings, measuring 1,827-, 1,015- and 1,963-square-feet, and a 1,500-square-foot storage building which will be demolished later, he said.

This spring Trend Setters staff, students and customers will move to the single location and not have to walk between buildings, he said.

Granite will be a feature of the new building, he noted.

"It will have a different look than most salons," he said.

Trend Setters runs a 10-month school teaching students about styling hair and makeup. During training students refine techniques on mannequins, nonpaying customers and then paying customers.

Millhouse believes his company handles some of the state’s highest volume in beauty services.

"We probably do more than all the salons and barber shops combined," he said.

Demand exists for the training, he said. Trend Setters also runs its own salons, one in Dimond Center and another in Eagle River, and sometimes has difficulty finding employees, he said.

Millhouse estimated thousands of students have graduated from Trend Setters, he said.

Graduates can carry skills learned at Trend Setters with them to other states, he noted. "We teach them how to make a living at what they went to school for," he said.

01/13/2002 - 8:00pm