5Qs with Karen Marie Salon’s Benjamin Rossi

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” is one of many famous quotes from the wizard in the movie classic, The Wizard Of Oz. But when that man behind the curtain is someone like Benjamin Rossi, you pay attention. He co-owns the Karen Marie Salon in Chicago, Illinois and wears an abundance of hats behind the scenes. When we asked Karen Marie to provide us with a piece of advice she would give to someone who wants to start their own business, she replied with, “Make sure you have a strong partner, especially if you’re going to be standing behind the chair. It’s hard to do both. If you are going to do it by yourself, just know that you’re not going to have a life.”

From managing to marketing to graphic design, Benjamin supports the salon, the staff and his business partner to the highest regard. We got to know Benjamin on a more personal level by sending him through our round of 5Qs and here’s what we learned about Mr. Rossi:

Who: Benjamin Rossi

What: Owner/Operator

Where: Karen Marie Salon

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Benjamin Rossi Karen Marie Salon

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Our site/publication is called Industrie and we spelled it with an “ie” on purpose – it’s the French way of spelling industry and was once defined to us as an artisan who works with their hands to create things of beauty and substance. So tell us, how do you define beauty and substance?

In the salon industry, you have very defined ideas of beauty typically based on popular culture/ corporate media. To me, beauty and substance are based on being aware and thoughtful and the ability to act on those ideas in an impactful way.

What other creative outlets do you explore/practice?

I have several professions: salon manager, graphic designer and property manager. All of them involve several different types of creativity that cross over into each other as well everyday life. When I have the time, I like to see what others are doing, be it through design trade shows like SOFA and Neo-Con to new exhibits at the MCA or Art Institute. Awareness and understanding of others techniques and problem-solving solutions help to create new ideas and influence my own professional projects.   

What’s your personal motto/favorite quote?

Carpe Noctem (seize the night).

When have you felt the most vulnerable in your career?

When you juggle several different positions, vulnerabilities always pop up; monthly challenges or even weekly ones remind you that anything can change at any time. The ability to take a step back and look at the big picture and then introduce problem-solving techniques turns vulnerabilities into solvable challenges.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

When money is involved, everyone is an a**hole.


If you had to make a personal hashtag, what would it be?


How would you define “true beauty”?


What 3 things would you never leave the house without?

Sunglasses, wallet, keys.

If you’re having a bad day, what’s the one thing that will always cheer you up?

If the weather is good, I like to take a bike ride.

If you weren’t a salon owner, what would you be?

An arborist!

Name the top three things that make you happy.

My dog Rocco, great weather, and producing and finishing a project.

Who or what inspires you to be your best self, every day?

Creating content.

Fill-in-the-blank —”I’m happiest when __________” or “I feel most beautiful/self-confident/etc. when ____________.”

I have complete free time and I go to yoga.

What’s your favorite part of every day?

Late afternoon.

Are you a side, back or stomach sleeper?

All three.

How do you take your Waffle House hash browns?

Cheese and onions? I’ve only been once, years ago.

Best seat on an airplane—window, middle or aisle? Explain your reasoning.

Window, you can see the world and when you’re settled, lean your head against it to sleep.

If I asked you how many ping-pong balls it takes to fill an airplane, what would you say?

What kind of airplane?

What is your theme song in life?

Yegelle Tezeta by Mulatu Astatke.

If you were a superhero, what would your special power be?

Instantaneous Transportation.

What’s your hidden talent?

I can juggle.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

Coffee and a cigarette.


What are Industrie 5Qs?

Our 5Qs are just that—5 questions that get asked, contemplated and answered. To spice it up, we throw in some bonus questions the person being interviewed gets to pick out of a potluck of possibilities.

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