Free to BeMay 29, 2014 09:14AM ● By Kristen Hoffman
“As a DJ, you always want Jared on your dance floor,” says Brent Crampton, DJ/co-creator of House of Loom and Berry and Rye. “He’ll be front and center just going off to the music.”
A jack of all trades and staple of the Old Market, Spence brings that same sincere enthusiasm to everything he does, whether beauty, fashion, journalism, design, theater makeup, or costuming. He’s ubiquitous in Omaha’s social scene. If you’re out and about, especially downtown, you’ve likely shared a dancefloor or bartender. Perhaps that’s why a friend of Spence’s always introduces him as “an Omaha institution.”
“In college I really started to become one with Downtown,” says Spence, who moved to the Omaha area in elementary school.
Circa 2008, he worked at the now-closed boutique, Trocadero. During this time, he says, he really “fell in love with the area,” began doing styling for fashion shows and photo shoots downtown, and making lots of creative connections.
“[Downtown] is a very creative environment,” says Spence. “I feed off the energy and I’m always inspired by the different things and people I see.”
First it was work. Then it was work and play. Now Spence works, plays, and lives in the Old Market. “It’s kind of a romantic thing, the relationship the Old Market and I have,” he says. “It’s just the best to me. Everything I need is here.”
Still freelancing as a stylist, Spence also works as a natural nail tech at Sirens at the Loft Salon & Day Spa, doing spa hand and foot services.
“I’ve always had an affinity for beauty, skincare, haircare … and I love helping people, making them feel good and beautiful,” he says.
“Jared is a unique soul,” says Sirens owner Chevy Kozisek. “His customer service is above and beyond—we get rave reviews about his pedicure treatments. He is amazing.”
On a typical day you might see Spence at Barry O’s, House of Loom, or Berry and Rye.
“Downtown is very cozy, spatially for sure, but also in terms of people,” he says. “It’s a friendly place where people feel comfortable no matter who they are, because they’re always so many different types of people.”
Spence, who now often wears makeup and occasionally a wig, was insecure growing up worried what others thought of him or how they might judge him.
“I’m a big advocate for being yourself,” he says. “I’ve learned that the beauty of being a person is being an individual. There’s no one else like you, or him or her or anyone. Being an individual is what it’s all about; it’s what sets you apart that makes you beautiful. And I think the Old Market is a great place to be yourself.”
Spence says he gets the occasional look when he’s out, but that doesn’t bother him. “I think it’s important to make people aware that not everybody’s the same, but that you’re allowed to do what makes you feel good even if others don’t agree or understand.”
“Jared’s an integral part of downtown, bringing laughter and joy,” says Crampton. “He just wants to look fabulous and treat others like they’re fabulous. He has a gift for empathy and an ability to sense what others are feeling.”
Spence concurs he is “everybody’s Oprah,” doling out wisdom and support when needed. “Happiness is a state of mind, it’s not something you wait for,” he says, with insight beyond his 25 years. “You have good days and bad, but focus on the positive and you’ll realize you’re surrounded by lots of love and opportunity.”