Meet the Owner


Michelle Ghassemi (she/they)  

Owner/Mindset & Business Coach for Creatives

“There are no limits to me, no limits to my company, no limits for those on my team.”

Michelle graduated from Northern Michigan University in 2005 for Cosmetology & attended Finlandia University in 2009 for Business and Communications courses. Throughout her career, she has played a variety of roles (stylist/manager/mentor/master colorist) in both local boutique salons & spa businesses across 3 states & corporations as well as a self-employed renter as a successful independent stylist, for 10 years behind the chair. Although she is no longer behind the chair, making the transition to managing her own employee-based salons as CEO/CFO 8 years ago,  Michelle remains a growth centered strategist who strives to remain innovative in her approach to the industry & the needs of her team.

She works to fill a need to improve, expand & elevate the commission employee based business model in our industry, providing career minded stylists opportunities to grow far past the “max” of this model without the “toxic” salon culture. Meraki’s culture, that unspoken but felt “air” is equally if not more important to her than the amazing hair walking out the door, & she creates & cultivates this support on the daily. She values a holistic, low toxic environment for her salons, striving to ensure sustainability for stylists & the best haircare for guests, showing you can achieve luxury hair without the toxins!

Meet the Team


Summer Mitchell (she/her)  

Master Colorist/Extension Specialist

General Manager(GM)/Education Director/Mentor

After concluding her schooling in 2008, Summer went on to work in a salon and complete her…

apprenticeship on the lovely 0BX (outer banks) of North Carolina.She has gone on to craft her passion with enhanced education from Aveda and Kevin Murphy to truly re-create all shades of blondes with classic and advanced custom techniques. She also enjoys textured cutting of all lengths and everyday styling. She has been trained in hand tied & tape in custom extensions. Summer has a unique ability to ensure her clients are truly heard & feel comfortable. She provides an honest upfront dialogue her clients can trust & rely on, to deliver the total package for them!


Kerry Lott(she/her)  

Balayage/Vivid Color/Shag Cut Specialist

Inventory Manager Raleigh/Mentor/Educator

Kerry is an Aveda Institute in Chapel Hill 2019 alum. She is a 2019 Professional Beauty Association…

Beacon winner where she attended specialized classes among other top students from across the country at the International Salon and Spa Expo. She enjoys vivid colors, custom cuts and all things balayage. She specializes in total transformations helping each guest achieve their perfect look! A life-long lover of art and fashion, Kerry graduated from NC State in 2017 with a degree in Fashion and Textile Management. She is excited to join the Meraki team where she can grow and learn alongside her fellow stylists & mentors! Besides her love of hair, she loves quality time with her loved ones and cat Luna. She enjoys listening to podcasts, drinking coffee and seeing live music.


Katie Gilmore 

Master Stylist/Precision Cuts/Custom Color
Durham Location

Katie is a master stylist who has 15 years experience around the Durham/southpoint area. She specializes…

in precision cuts and textured cuts of all lengths. She loves to create custom colors and blonding using different techniques. Katie enjoys using her knowledge to create exactly what her clients are envisioning when they sit in her chair. “I love working with my clients to create unique looks that they feel great in.” When Katie is not in the salon she enjoys being outdoors with her husband and two kids.


Shelby Archer  

Dimensional Blonde/Extension Specialist


Growing up in rural Idaho, Shelby did not have access to high quality organic products like what we have…

here at Meraki. She have always been passionate about transforming hair through colors and cuts, as well as improving health and integrity of the hair at the same time. She started cosmetology school immediately after high school graduation, and have chased this passion until she found my dream job here at Meraki. “I truly love empowering people through their hair and makeup. There is nothing more rewarding than the smile on a client’s face at the end of a service.” Shelby loves all things blonding, as well as formal hair styling and makeup. I can’t wait to have you in my chair!


Rhiannon Quay(she/her)  

Curly Cuts/Custom Color Specialist


Rhiannon  graduated from Aveda Institute in Chapel Hill in February of 2020. Her favorite things behind…

the chair are vivid/fashion colors, balayage, and anything to do with curly hair! “I became passionate about hair when I was a teenager and wanted to learn more about my natural texture, and now I love to share everything I know with my clients and continue to learn everything I can about hair.” A few fun facts about her; “I am a cat lady and general animal lover, I enjoy reading, drawing, and playing video games in my spare time.”


Aaron Buday(he/they)  

Gender Affirming Cuts/Color Specialist

Inventory Manager Durham/Mentor/Educator

Aaron joins us with experience in gender affirming haircuts as well as custom vivids and balayage.

A passion for education, he is excited for the opportunities that Meraki has to offer.
When he isn’t behind the chair, Aaron is a talented Cosplayer, sewing his own looks together. He also enjoys exploring all over North Carolina, crafting, and baking. Aaron is an animal lover and loves chatting with his guests on all things animals!


Emma Jean Cary(she/her)  

Raleigh Location

EmmaJean’s goal as a hair stylist is to create a safe and comfortable space and give her clients the…

confidence to express themselves authentically. She specializes in bridal hair and makeup and also enjoys rich brunettes and balayages. Her signature cut is bouncy layers, curtain bangs, and an educational blowout. She is passionate about creating an accepting and welcoming luxury experience for you to relax and know that you are taken care of in her chair. When it comes to client care her goal is always healing and helping you to reach your hair goals. She is passionate about organic and holistic products & has an interest in health and nutrition which she incorporates into her services by the products and knowledge she‘s accumulated. When you sit in her chair it’s more than just a service, it’s a personalized experience and she loves focusing on each client.


Taylor Prince  

Balayage & Color/Modern Cut Specialist
Raleigh Location

Raleigh Native. Loves unique styles, vivid/fashion colors, balayage, edgy cuts/shags and most…

importantly making you feel good about yourself. Don’t be fooled by her initial shy demeanor, she knows hair color. Taylor Prince has a knack for paying attention to details and is happy to answer any questions you may have.


Amanda Kauk 

Cut & Color Specialist
Durham Location

Amanda graduated from Eric Fisher Academy in Wichita, Kansas in 2016, and she have a passion for…

all things hair and learning. Her current specialty is precision cutting and barbering but she wants to learn it all! “I’m also a history nerd (and I love the history of hair), and enjoy antiquing in my spare time. I also cross stitch, bullet journal, and I’m definitely a cat lady!”


Paris Garrison  

Blonding/Lived In Color Specialist
Raleigh+Durham Locations

She’s originally from Lexington, NC! She has been behind the chair for 2 years now after receiving…

my diploma from Leon’s Beauty School. She specializes in lived in color and blonding! “I have always had a passion for the beauty industry and using my creativity to help others. My goal as a stylist is to help people feel like the best versions of themselves while maintaining healthy hair. In my spare time, I like to binge horror movies, travel, and read.”


Cortney Niclaus  

Color Specialist(Blondes/Vivids/Brondes)
Raleigh+Durham Locations

My favorite things to do behind the chair are highlights/ balayage, & vivid colors! I knew I wanted to work in the beauty industry when…

i was around 12 or 13, when i started becoming more interested in altering the natural hair color in the healthiest way possible & helping those build their confidence & to love themselves. I also love how hair trends (color, haircuts, etc.) are constantly changing so there’s always something new to learn about! I am a dog mom that also loves animals in general. In my spare time, i love to travel, go hiking, & watch documentaries. 


Madelyn Molina


Madelyn is a well-rounded, down to earth ball of energy. She has two fur babies whom she loves…

and a huge family that she’s very close with. She is originally from a small town in Massachusetts, but now she lives in Durham and works part time as a bartender in downtown Raleigh.
She graduated from Cosmetology school in 2022, and just started the apprenticeship program here at Meraki in June 2022. She fell in love with Meraki’s culture and all the amazing people inside. She hopes to finish the apprenticeship program fairly quick so she can start her career and enhance peoples lives by her craft and skill set.


Becky Gibbs


My name is Becky and I’m originally from the Topsail beach area. I’ve been in the Raleigh area for close to…

10 years now and I have two beautiful children. My passion for the beauty industry doesn’t stop at hair, as I have a love for doing nails as well as Individual lash extensions! In my spare time, I love watching a good horror movie and spending time with my family. 


Abby Conover


My name is Abby I am starting the co artist program at Meraki I’m currently going to Aveda institute…

graduating in September. I love being a positive person for people to be able to talk too. Im excited to start my years as a stylist and working hard through the program to achieve that.


Alexis Stallings

Co-Artist/Apprentice &

Salon Coordinator

Alexis will soon be a graduate of Mitchell’s Academy. She’s currently a front desk coordinator…

but she looks forward to learning in the co artist program. “I have a huge passion for this industry and can’t wait to start my career with Meraki.”

laughing rooftop
laughing team

Claire Johnson(she/her)

Salon Coordinator

Claire has always expressed herself through art. When words do not come to mind, she uses her creative…

capabilities to convey herself. Throughout the years, her artwork on canvas turned into a desire to create art on hair. She currently attends cosmetology school and looks forward to starting her career in her hometown of Raleigh. “When I am not on the go, you can find me snuggling with my three dogs, binge watching/ reading the harry potter series, spending time outdoors, and traveling at any opportunity!”


Alissa Adams

Salon Coordinator

I was born in Pennsylvania but I have lived in the Raleigh area for most of my life. I have a super close family including…

my daughter and 6 pets. I graduated from Mitchell’s Academy’s esthetics program in 2017 and have specialized in skincare and waxing ever since. I have worked in a salon setting for years and am excited for the future with Meraki.


Mel Horne (they/them)

Salon Coordinator

Coming Soon!


Emily Jensen

Salon Coordinator

Coming Soon!


Talia Khardaji

Social Media Manager

Talia is a gentle, empathetic soul who likes to leave a touch of herself in everything she does. After…

perusing her psychology degree at UNC-W, she decided to pour her passion for making people feel beautiful into the cosmetology field. When she’s not attending school, working at Meraki, or serving she enjoys tending to her many plants, finding more ways to enhance her love for clean and sustainable living, and spending time with her family and friends. She is so excited to be a part of the Meraki family, and cannot wait to learn and grow with the guidance of our team!