Creative Elements Williston | Woman Owned North Dakota Salon


Williston, North Dakota salon owner, Shandi, is pictured wearing a black sweater seated on a couch in Creative Elements.

I recently started a passion project that makes perfect sense for me as a North Dakota family & branding photographer: spotlighting woman-owned businesses!  Next up on the roster is Shandi Gafkjen, owner of the North Dakota salon, Creative Elements, right here in Williston!  We had a blast photographing her session at the salon. She was also kind enough to give me insight into what it took for her to pursue her dream.

Shandi Gafkjen, owner of Creative Elements, crouches before a product display wearing jeans, black ballet flats, and a black sweater in her Williston, ND salon.

North Dakota Salon Owner

Shandi Gafkjen, owner of Williston salon, Creative Elements, dermaplanes a local client during a branding photoshoot with North Dakota photographer, Kellie Rochelle photography.

For the last two years, Shandi has owned Creative Elements, the same salon where she began her cosmetology journey nearly 13 years ago.  After completing her Associate of Arts and Science Degree at WSC, she was still undecided on a career path. Since she had cosmetology in the back of her mind, she went for it!  Shandi takes great pride in her work and its effect on her clients, which is also her why.  Seeing her clients glowing with confidence, building relationships that become more like friendships, and assisting them with their own self-care needs are all motivating factors for her.

Achieving Balance As a Mom & Business Owner 

Shandi is a big advocate for self-care and prioritizes it for herself to balance motherhood & running a business.  “Business owning can definitely take a toll on your mental health,” she explained, “especially at the beginning during the learning process and when the unknowns or unexpected happen.”  So, what does personal care look like for Shandi?  Aside from making herself a priority, she makes it a point to plan activities with her family on the weekends. She and her husband, Aaron, and two children, Ellie & Kaseton, enjoy playing games together at home.

Advice for Other Women in Business

Creative Elements salon owner, Shandi, stands before her Square POS system during a brand photography shoot with Kellie Rochelle Photography.
Shandi, owner of North Dakota salon, Creative Elements, is pictured wearing a black sweater, smiling down at a wristlet that reads 'support women owned businesses'.

Like so many other women in business, prioritizing self-care didn’t come until later for Shandi, and hindsight is 20/20.  If she could go back and give herself one piece of advice to make the journey to business ownership a little smoother it would be, “Remember to make the time for yourself too.” When it comes to owning a business, the services you provide your clients are just the tip of the iceberg. The extra tasks that come along with being the owner add up and can take a toll on your mental health.  “I tried to do too much at the beginning [of owning the business]… It was hard to lighten my schedule and let some clients go, but I had to do it for my mental health.  I should’ve started the process sooner.”

Serving Williston, ND

Shandi, owner of North Dakota salon, Creative Elements, is pictured with three of her team members laughing together in the salon lobby before a product display.

Since switching from renting a booth at Creative Elements to owning the salon, Shandi has been able to fill her booths and keep them filled, a great indicator that the staff is happy where they are!  She has six hairstylists, a permanent makeup artist, an esthetician, a nail tech, and a massage therapist who serve the community at this North Dakota salon.  She and her team provide a positive and laid-back atmosphere where they can indulge in self-care and relaxation. However, clients also have some fun during their stay and leave well-rested and confident.  

Special thanks to Shandi for allowing me to photograph her and telling me the story of how she became a business owner. This series has a special place in my heart & I’m eager to continue sharing stories like Shandi’s with the world!

North Dakota Branding Photographer

Hey, I’m Kellie, a Williston-based branding photographer who focuses on authentic, heartfelt, inspirational photos that tell my clients stories through my lens.  Are you a business owner looking to up your marketing game through brand photos that feel like you ?  Let’s make it happen!  Take a look at my branding packages and let’s chat about how we can make your dream branding photos a reality.  Want some inspiration in the meantime?  Be sure to follow me on Pinterest or come say hi on IG, FB, and TikTok! 

If you liked this blog, be sure to check out:
Woman-Owned Branding Photography
4 Tips for Planning a Branding Session

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