After 30 years of being the owner of Renee’s Uptown Salon in Alpine, Renée Francis Conrad is ready to let someone else take the “driver’s seat” in her full-service hair salon, passing on the family-owned business on July 1 to another Alpine family, Compton and Shara Bender, who recently made Alpine their home and have a strong desire to be part of the Alpine community.
Conrad grew up in Alpine, graduated from Valhalla High School, Je Boutique Beauty College, and then graduated from Christian Heritage College, earning her bachelor’s degree in business, minoring in psychology.
“I raised my son Devin here in Alpine as well,” she said. “He actually attended the same Alpine elementary school as me and experienced a few of the same teachers.”
Conrad said she enjoyed the people and friendships she cultivated through her cosmetology career and decided to purchase Country Elegance Beauty Salon in September 1993, renaming the salon as Renee’s Uptown Salon.
“After a successful 10 years, I wanted to grow my business and expand in the new building that Josh and Lauren Klucewich built called Alpine Twin Plaza. Their beautiful property won the Beautification Award from the Alpine Planning Committee in 2003,” Conrad said, adding that the plaza was a wonderful addition to the community of Alpine.
Conrad said even with the Alpine Boulevard construction over the past several years, the COVID-19 closures, the salon and hair business is going strong. She said her mother, Beverly Francis would say, “The hair and beauty business is recession proof.”
“I am so thankful for all the community love and support over these last 30 plus years, which gave me the confidence to be a successful business owner,” she said. “Several of my clients and friends have patronized my solan for more than 30 years. For their loyalty, my heart is full of gratitude. There is plenty of hair to go around, meaning there is plenty of business in Alpine for all the hairstylists to be very busy.”
But Conrad said that though she has chosen to sell the salon, she is not gone. Along with her loyal hairstylists Krista Mallon, Summer Turner, Terry Paz, Christina Cruz, and Heidi Lees, she has every intention of continuing to work with her clients, as Shara and Compton Bender take over the business of the salon. “I am not retiring,” she said.
The Benders moved to Rancho Palo Ranch in January. Both active-duty Navy, they were stationed in San Diego county two years ago and have called it home since.
“We just happened to find Alpine while looking for a home,” said Shara Bender. “We fell in love with it because of the views and decided to make this our resting place because it is so awesome.”
Compton Bender said they have no regrets.
“It was worth it,” he said. “The views, the people, the community, you cannot really find this the closer you get to San Diego and the city.”
Shara Bender said they both have always had a passion for business, and she has a background in hair styling.
“I have always wanted to own my own salon and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to, one, being in a location that we love. Which is Alpine. We love Alpine. We love the whole vibe of Alpine. It seemed to be the perfect opportunity to have a little piece of Alpine. All encompassing, it was the perfect position and the perfect setup. We love Alpine for what it is. It is kind of slow paced which is definitely appealing. It is like a little oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city that is San Diego. We foresee that we will grow with our community. Being able to give back to the community.”
She said another appeal to purchasing the salon is its longstanding reputation and clientele.
“We understand that it is steeped in history, and we wanted to ensure that the legacy continues,” she said. “As far as services are concerned, we know that Alpine is growing, so we would like to diversify our clientele as well as our staff. We want to make sure that the name is maintained. We want to keep up Renee’s Uptown Salon’s good name. In keeping with the good name, we do think that there are some things that we can approve upon, and diversity is the main goal.”
Compton Bender said he is thankful for Conrad.
“I think everything happens for a reason and that we are very blessed to cross paths with Renee,” he said. “I am very grateful for the opportunity to continue that legacy and thankful.”