Craig Smith

Craig Smith is the executive director of the Downtown Napa Association.

J.L. Sousa/Register

Lisa Wunderlich, who owns the newly opened Wunder Boutique + Salon at 1428 Second St., right next to the Post Office, knew as a teenager that she wanted to go to beauty school.

While her parents have always supported their kids, mom and dad both thought college should come first, and strongly encouraged Wunderlich to go that route. And initially, that’s what she did.

Wunderlich attended St. John’s Catholic through the eighth grade, and then went to Justin Siena. During that time, she began to do her own hair and makeup.

Liking what they saw, her friends asked them to do theirs as well. Wunderlich loved it. Still, she followed her parents’ advice, and headed to Santa Barbara to college.

She came home after a year.

“That’s when I heard about a program of doing a semester abroad, in Italy, and I wanted to do it,” she said.

Wunderlich began researching the plan. Knowing that her folks had strong feelings about her education, she put together a formal proposal for the trip abroad, and presented the idea to them.

They were completely supportive, Wunderlich packed her bags, and for the next five months, lived in Florence, studying language, art and art history.

“I loved it!, she said. “We studied all week and traveled all weekend. By 21, I’d been all through Europe. It was an amazing experience.”

Returning to Napa, she joined mom in real estate as an assistant, in order to learn the business.

Try as she did, real estate just wasn’t for her, and her heart wasn’t in it.

“You don’t want to do this, do you?” asked mom, and Wunderlich admitted that she didn’t.

Now convinced that their daughter’s passion really was to attend beauty school, her parents did an about-face and supported her 100 percent. After 10 months of 40 hours a week training, Wunderlich had her license, and spent the next 10 years as a hairdresser.

Still, she wanted more.

“I wanted to have my own business, and focus on fashion as well as hair,” said Wunderlich.

She began researching concepts and locations. It took two years, longer than she expected, but Wunder Boutique + Salon opened in November of 2015.

Wunder has four stylists on staff, all rock stars in the world of Napa hair (Brianne Rice, Kayla Headley, Erika Dobbs, and on Fridays, Wunderlich herself.)

The boutique features hats, scarves, jewelry, purses and gift items. Wunderlich buys with a wide price and age range in mind, and keeps it all affordable.

“I always ask myself if I could and would buy something for myself before deciding to carry it. I want to shop in the place I own.”

The store is beautiful, for which her dad gets a lot of the design and build credit. Wunder is open, inviting and unpretentious. Monday through Saturday, 257-7527 or wundernapa.com. Drop by and check out the selection.

See you downtown!

Craig Smith is the executive director of the Downtown Napa Association. Reach him at 257-0322 or craig@donapa.com.

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