Q&A with Short North stylist Jacob Neal

Sherry Beck Paprocki

A Short North stylist gussies up his salon by adding a high-end home store next door.

Jacob Neal was a much younger man when he arrived in Columbus in 1992. It was in the midst of the AIDS crisis and he was losing friends in New York City. His parents, in Fort Lauderdale, had passed away and he sought the comfort of family in Central Ohio, where two siblings resided and he had once attended the Columbus College of Art & Design.

For months, he traveled between the two cities, catering to high-profile clients at his salon in the Sherry Netherland Hotel on Central Park, while he served as national spokesman for Clairol emphasizing "high-performance" hair and working with celebrities including Kristi Yamaguchi, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and others. In Columbus, he opened a salon and quickly found a market of Midwesterners ready to kick it up a notch in their personal care. His starting price of $125 for a color and cut was earth-shattering back then, he says. With his salon in the Short North since 2009, Neal decided this year to open a high-end home store, the Jacob Neal Collection, adjacent to the store. We talked to him about hair and home.

It sounds as though Columbus was an early respite for you as you were working with some very high-profile celebrities at your New York salon. That was back in the 1990s. Does it surprise you that you've stayed in town for so long?

Having a high-profile career and working with high-profile celebs in NYC was like a "gift with purchase." I worked extremely hard and made the right choices along the way, the choices that catapulted my career into the spotlight.

Why the Short North for an upscale home store?

The Short North, to me, is the perfect place for retail and salon services. This progressive urban environment provided the perfect outlet for pedestrian shoppers to enjoy galleries, food and beverage, as well as boutique shopping. The Short North is one of a kind and is now a point of destination. Attracting people not only from Central Ohio, but internationally with the help of the now expanding Convention Center and The Joseph hotel, we have visitors from a much larger base now looking for retail and services that complete with the most discriminating taste.

What does the perfect outfit look like for a bed that is well made? Be honest with us. How much should be in the budget for that perfect bed with all its dressings?

The perfect look for a bed is actually quite easy for anyone to achieve when you follow one simple rule: Always use three compatible fabrics to complete a bed ensemble, i.e.: duvet and continental sham, sheet set, blanket cover and standard shams. Then throw in at least three throw pillows and you've got a hit! Entire price can range from $2,250 to $7,500.

What are the most appealing and current colors that you would recommend choosing for bedroom linens, as well as hair?

Color choice for hair and your bedroom can be quite personal and related. For hair, we like to be guided by skin tone and existing hair color, or lack thereof, and the desired end result. So it's much the same with choosing bedding-what are the existing colors already in the room? With these in-place tones, we can be directed to a palette of color that is very unique and personal… In terms of what's more appealing in hair color, balayage (a coloring technique) is the way to go for all hair color types and nothing's better than crispy, cool percale sheets.