Meet your merchant: Dreams of architecture sidetracked by second passion
While growing up in Nevada County, Natalie Wengryn Browning was sure she wanted to escape small town life and become an architect.
So after high school graduation she went off to college to pursue her dream. But, like many foothills natives, two years later she “came running back.” Still determined to pursue a college degree but stay close to her hometown, Browning decided to commute to esthetics school, hoping her training would land her a temporary job to help pay for tuition.
“Then I realized how much I loved skin care and waxing,” she said. “It was fun, and not so serious. People are always happy when they come to see you, like they’re going on a mini-vacation. I really didn’t know I was going to love the work that much.”
That was nearly 15 years ago, and today Browning has her own Grass Valley business, Haven Skin & Wax Studio. She has since become known for her skin care expertise, make-up artistry and meticulous microblading, which is a tattooing technique done with a small handheld tool to add semi-permanent pigment to the skin. After thousands of hours of training, Browning has since become known for her quality eyebrow design.
“I loved how much a greatly structured eyebrow changes one’s face — so much that I took on the art of microblading to better enhance my clients’ brows,” she said. “I specialize in that as well as eyebrow design. I guess you could say I did become an architect after all, only for eyebrows. The technology has come so far and I have incredibly high standards when it comes to my technique and hygiene. To do this kind of thing, you have to be obsessed. I’m now doing also doing permanent make-up — eye liner and lips. I love it.”
Services at Haven also include make-up application, wedding make-up packages, microblading consultations and microblading color boosts six to 18 months out. Facial options include “The Basics,” involves deep cleansing, exfoliation, extractions and custom steam treatments. “The European” includes the basic facial plus massage of the neck, shoulders, chest, back arms and hands. “The Deluxe” is similar to The European, only with exfoliation of the legs and feet. Other treatments include a “back facial,” “facial infusion” with vitamin A, the “micro-lift facial” using micro-current stimulation, lymphatic drainage and more.
Browning, who works solo in her peaceful studio, also does waxing of all styles, including arms, back, bikini, eyebrows, upper lip, legs, chin and more.
Having worked at Macy’s during her college years, Browning said she tried every type of skin care the store had to offer, and still wasn’t satisfied. After graduating from esthetics school and doing extensive research, she finally found a skin care line that she was impressed with and wanted to carry in her studio. Osmosis is a complete holistic-medical skin and wellness solution with a unique philosophy based on analyzing the skin and body as a whole “to encourage permanent change and overall radiance.”
“I love educating my clients young and old about skin care, routines and habits — and helping them through a natural, non-invasive approach,” said Browning.
“I’ve been coming to Natalie for about 14 years,” said client Veronica Bringolf, who was at Haven with her two children on Thursday. “Natalie always treats you like you’re family. It’s such a nice relaxing atmosphere. I come here every eight weeks. She is so good at what she does, but I also just like Natalie!”
While Browning loved the camaraderie of working in larger salons and spas in the past, there is great satisfaction that comes with running a one-person studio, she said, adding that she wants to “keep it simple.” Despite her busy client schedule, she always leaves time for her husband and three children, ages 12, 9 and 2. But during work hours, her kids are well taking care of — Browning’s mother is the owner of Creative Kids preschool and day care center and her sister is principal of Mt. St. Mary Academy in Grass Valley.
“I love children so they’re always welcome here,” said Browning. “My clients tell me there is a very nurturing air here — I’ve put a lot of love into this place. I love building strong relationships and connecting with people. There’s something very rewarding about making people feel good about themselves.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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