Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Writer / Kara Reibel . Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Since opening in January 2007 in Fishers, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang quickly became an award-winning salon. According to Salon Today Magazine, they have been named a Top 200 Salon four times since 2011. They’ve also earned nods for Philanthropy in 2014, Growth in 2010, 2012 and 2013 and Best Practices in 2010.
The salon is named for a punk rock song, and true to their name, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (KKBB) merges punk with hair fashions.
“When we were naming the salon, a friend of ours in L.A. suggested Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” says co-owner Tanya Foster. “Once we heard the name, we were like ‘Yes! That’s it!’”
The name fits perfectly due to Tanya’s boyfriend and salon co-owner, Mike “Cheez” Brown, who has a history of playing in a punk rock band. Cheez grew up outside of Kokomo and traveled back and forth to California as a youth, finishing high school in L.A.
Cheez moved back to Indiana to raise his daughter in a more family-friendly environment. Cheez and Tanya met through their girls who became friends. They discovered they had quite a bit in common. “We both had difficult beginnings but have made the best of it and have not let those events define us,” shares Tanya.
Both entrepreneurs, Tanya and Cheez worked on a business model for a salon. “When we started this place, Tanya and six other girls wanted to share the same space and all use and sell the same products,” says Cheez. “Instead of finding another salon, they created their own.”
Most women start their own companies to create their own culture. This is exactly what Tanya did with Cheez’ support. “When you walk into this business, the energy in this place has to be amazing,” says Cheez with Tanya nodding in agreement. “Drama is left at the door.”
“People come in here to be completely free of whatever else is going on in their lives and to be around like-minded people,” says Tanya. “We are 100 percent about the client who comes in to look beautiful and be taken care of.”
KKBB is a cool, hip and edgy salon that has a vast array of clientele that walk across their threshold. Along the back wall is a collection of signatures from celebrity clientele with names such as Slash, Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance), Sublime, Kid Rock and A. Jay Popoff (Lit).
Cheez is an entertainment manager for multiple bands including Sublime and The Dirty Heads. “The Dirty Heads were literally three kids playing in a bedroom and had to be talked into being a band,” shares Cheez who plays guitar occasionally with Sublime. The Dirty Heads are co-owners of the Carmel location of KKBB.
Tanya and Cheez were guests at Adam Levine’s wedding where they surprised the groom with a performance by Sublime (Adam’s favorite band) at the reception. “We were at a farm outside Cabo, and just off from the main reception area, we had set up Sublime to play,” says Cheez. “The best man, Jesse Carmichael, never thought he’d say the words, ‘And now let me introduce Sublime!’”
The notoriety of the owners of KKBB isn’t what draws clients. The real attraction is the ambience and stylists who keep their clients happy. The KKBB atmosphere and business model is replicated as the foundation for seven tattoo parlors that Cheez owns in Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Francisco. He was the first to position a tattoo shop inside a mall, which is located in Vegas by Planet Hollywood.
When asked about the nickname Cheez, the origin is an accident. Literally. “I got hit by a Frito Lay truck in L.A. when I was 16 in high school. The name was a joke. [People] were making fun of me because it was a Cheetos truck,” says Cheez who now cashes checks under the name “Cheez.”
Cheez credits his work ethic and common business sense to the summers he worked on the farms outside of Kokomo at a young age. That experience provided a great deal of education for him. Cheez believes farmers to be the most under-respected people on the planet. “No class in college could teach what I learned working on a farm,” shares Cheez.
Keeping a positive mindset, maintaining good energy and giving back is the foundation for what Cheez and Tanya instill in their own lives and those of their employees.
“Amazing things happen in the lives of our stylists, so there is a trickle-down effect from the environment that has been created here,” says Tanya.
“I’m the luckiest guy on earth,” says Cheez. “I get to do what I want and am grateful for what I have.”
The salons have raised money over the last decade for needy families or for a stylist’s family member going through cancer treatment. Both Tanya and Cheez had rough upbringings, so they are passionate about helping others. Due to their efforts, they have been named one of the Top 200 salons in the country for philanthropy.
“My father was a barber, but I never thought I’d own a hair salon,” shares Cheez. His life experiences include early rock and roll days with Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses and running Hustler Magazine. He was also a Vice President with Calvin Klein, but Cheez claims the happiest time of this life is now.
“I’ve learned that happiness is freedom, so I don’t do things that I don’t want to do,” says Cheez.
“I want to build my business on education and building up people,” says Tanya who hasn’t kept track of how many celebrities they have had as clients. “We do have an impressive resume, but the foundation is our people and regular clients. The celebrities are the icing on the cake. It’s 10 years later, and we are just now sharing our celebrity connections and stories.”
On July 16, Sublime and The Dirty Heads are performing at White River State Park with Cheez playing guitar with Sublime.
For tickets, visit inwhiteriver.com.
For appointments and additional information, visit kkbbsalon.com.