OMAHA — Paty Crabtree has always embraced what makes her unique.
She knew she was different, and not because she came from a big family or was home-schooled. She has a knack for seeing ordinary things and manipulating them into something intriguing and mesmerizing.
Take her hair for example, it hasn’t been her God-given color for as long as she can remember. While most people think of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet as colors of the rainbow, Crabtree would rather wear the colors on her head.
“Being home-schooled, we were at home a lot and when you’re self-taught, it’s kind of just a big, 'How do I entertain myself, how can I become more creative to find more things to do?' So I’m always looking for things, where most people wouldn’t look for them,” she explained. “I think I’m more inspired by things than most people are.”
After earning her diploma at age 16, she made her way to college and obtained a graphic design degree from Central Community College-Columbus at 19.
Even though she had a degree, it still wasn’t enough. She wanted something more.
“I was trying to figure out who I was,” the 26-year-old said.
Her graphic design degree was enough to help her realize how creative her spirit was, but she didn’t want to be limited to paper and signs.
“I realized I didn’t want to pursue a career like graphic design because I couldn’t sit still or stare at something too long,” Crabtree said. “Graphic design is creative, but I needed something more hands-on than that and wound up thinking hair because it’s all the things I was capable of and interested in.”
She enrolled at Capitol School of Hairstyling and Esthetics in Omaha, graduating with her license in 2011.
Crabtree has since taken her talents from the salon to the red carpet, participating in fashion show competitions and styling models' hair and makeup.
She’s used her creativity, attention to detail and organizational skills to develop a deeper career in hair.
During the last five years, her work has been seen on various models strutting down the runway in fashion shows in Omaha and Kansas City, and soon in New York City.
“I knew I needed something bigger and better, not just in Omaha. I need something greater and more creative that I need to work toward,” said Crabtree, who has worked at Garbo's Salon in Omaha's Midtown Crossing for 2 1/2 years.
Crabtree, the second oldest of five siblings, said her parents Betsy and Bruce have always taken an interest in her career like they do with all her siblings. Her parents, who live on a farm near Creston, inspired all them to think for themselves and chase what they love doing, she said.
“They let us grow and do our own thing in a controlled space to develop who we wanted to be,” Crabtree said.
Being different and breaking the mold is all Crabtree has worked for, and now she’s found a way to make it her career.
This week she's creating masterpiece hairstyles on models at Omaha Fashion Week, a runway display showcasing local designers.
“I’m meant to be behind the scenes for sure ... ” she said. “When I see them on the runway, it’s so cool to see my work appreciated.”
Crabtree will be doing more than styling hair. For the third year she will be directing a crew of 25 makeup artists, clothing designers and hair stylists, acting as the team leader in a 48-hour themed competition that was set to begin Friday night.
“I don’t really specialize in any of the specific things in the competition because I like to be in charge and I feel really well-rounded with doing all of these different things. It’s about being organized,” she said.
Crabtree coordinates a team that puts together a mini fashion show in just two days after the theme is announced, something she said results in next to no sleep for at least three days. This year her team is competing for $2,500 and an audition for the third season of TLC’s "Global Beauty Masters" reality TV show.
After all of that is over, there will be no time for rest because Omaha Fashion Week is just the start. Crabtree will soon be off to train with Aveda, a skin and hair-care product line, to work in the Catwalk4water Fashion Show in New York City in August.
She will be competing to be chosen to work alongside professional hairstylists in the coveted New York Fashion Week in the spring of 2017.
“I’ve never really had a direction I’ve wanted to go, I’ve simply known what I like,” Crabtree said. “And from there opportunities just began to present themselves. It all started with home-schooling and how it made me into the person I am today. I don’t know how I got here, but I do know I’ve had to do a lot of work to get to where I am. It’s all about being open-minded.”
To follow Crabtree's fashion week experiences and see her work, visit her Facebook page: Paty at Garbo’s in Midtown.