Skip to content

Our Salon

Smoke + Mirrors is a collective of hair artists, with each individual focusing on their own specialties and talents, opened in 2015 by owner + master stylist, Leah Michael Taylor. The goal being to create an inclusive, sustainable + eco-conscious environment where stylists can work + learn from each other while also passing on that same energy + knowledge to each of their own clients.

In support of our mission to find the most sustainable products on the market, we use primarily Oway Organics + Original Mineral, as well as Cult + King, and the latest addition Mr.Smith. It is important to both the staff and stylists in the salon to work with these smaller companies who are making a change by focusing on reducing their environmental impact while retaining their luxury status.


Empowering people and bringing their inner beauty to life

We're Hiring!

Join our talented and dynamic team of creative individuals! In addition to working with unique clientele, we offer a variety of training programs and opportunities for experience and advancement.

Meet Our Talented Stylists

Our Team

 Meet the dedicated individuals committed to crafting beauty, where talent meets personalized care for your unique style journey.

Founder, Owner & Master Stylist

While taking some time off from college in 2002, Leah began working at a small boutique spa in her hometown of Shepherdstown, WV. Her youthful passion for cosmetology and experimenting on her own and her friend’s hair grew to be more than just a hobby. She decided to return to school at Towson University (2003-2005) and, while studying full-time to complete her degree, she completed a cosmetology apprenticeship program. Soon after being licensed, she started working at a salon in Baltimore City that focused on a more organic and holistic approach. After 9 years she decided to make her dream a reality. That brought the creation of Smoke+Mirrors – a salon based on integrity, creativity and artistry. She prioritizes working with companies and brands that are creating positive change for the industry and the environment while placing more importance on ethical decisions in a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable way. Each client she works with allows her to focus on the reasons why she first got involved in the industry. She loves working with her clients’ needs and desires to make their visions reality; creating effortless color and cuts that work with the natural texture of their hair.

Achievements and Certifications

2005 – B.A./B.S. in Theatre Arts with a concentration in Design and Production from Towson University
2008 – Obtained her Senior Stylist license in MD
2011 – Published in Hair Now magazine
2016 – Educator training for Simply Organic Beauty, specializing in Oway
2017 – Men’s NY Fashion Week with O&M
2018 – NY Fashion Week with O&M
2018, Spring – Owayans event with Oway in Bologna, Italy
2018, Fall – Holistic Hair Retreat in Bologna, Italy with Oway and Simply Organic
2019 – Simply Organic Educator training
2020 – Cezanne Keratin Smoothing Treatment Certification
2020 – Hotheads Sewn-In Weft Extension Certification


Sara Saona started her salon career while she was still in high school attending a vocational school, which lead her to graduating from Empire beauty school in Harrisburg, PA. After receiving her license in 2015, she was able to experiment with all the beauty industry had to offer and found her passion doing hair extensions. Sara was then given the opportunity to work for a hair extension company as an educator. Sara also specializes in blonding, lived in color, and creating looks for her clients that will make them feel amazing.

When Sara is not at the salon, she loves spending time with her doggy Enzo, going on adventures, and exploring new places!

Achievements and Certifications

2017 – Aqua Hair Extensions Tape-in Certification
2017 – Aqua Hair Extensions Cylinder Certification
2018 – L’anza Colorist
2018 – L’anza Blonding Specialist
2019 – Aqua Hair Extensions Fusions Certification
2019 – Aqua Hair Extensions Hand-tied Weft Certification
2021 – Haircation Seamless Extension Blending Certification
2021 – Haircation Rich Brunettes Series
2021 – Haircation Lived-in Blondes Series
2023 – O&M Level 1 Certification

Gwendolyn Martin

Gwendolyn graduated from the Paul Mitchell, The Temple located in downtown Frederick and received her cosmetology license in 2020. Throughout her youth, she formed a passion for experimenting on her own hair which was the start of her love for cosmetology. She enjoys customizing styles for her clients and finding solutions to make their desired outcome manageable to maintain once leaving the salon. Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp which are both important priorities to her as well. When Gwendolyn is not in the salon, she enjoys cooking elaborate meals and spending quality time with her cat Shea.

Achievements and Certifications

2020 – trained in tape-in extensions
2023 – trained in sew-in extensions
2023 – O&M Level 1 Certification
2023 – O&M Blonding with Angelo Torres

Sasha Vertucci

Sasha is a barber/stylist who graduated from a Paul Mitchell Partner School in Maryland in 2021, specializing in gender-affirming haircuts and those with special needs. Whether it’s creating a perfect taper fade, or long, luscious layers, she has you covered while also considering possible auditory sensitivities and/or over stimulation to texture and touch. She loves creating dimensional balayage looks and bringing client’s ideas for fun, vivid colors to life! Curly hair is one of Sasha’s favorites to work with; really showing guests how to embrace their natural texture and sculpt their hair into something beautiful. Sasha used to have her own small business as a barber/stylist, “Fierce Fades,” and worked in several other salons around Baltimore before joining the Smoke+Mirrors team. A former ballerina, a freelance photographer, and currently writing a novel, Sasha loves the arts and outdoors! She loves to go camping and hiking and she owns chickens with some fabulous names! Ask her about them when you come to see her!

Achievements and Certifications

2021 – BTC education with Paula Peralta
/ Men’s perms

Emily Ann Leisher

 Emily Ann Leisher is a vibrant and talented stylist who brings creativity and passion to every client she meets. Emily embarked on her journey in the beauty industry when she became licensed in January 2017 through Sollers Point Technical High School. Since then, she has honed her skills and gained valuable experience, starting as a salon assistant/shampoo tech in 2016 and officially transitioning into hair styling in July of 2017.

Beyond her professional accomplishments, Emily is a creative spirit with diverse interests. She enjoys video gaming, particularly The Sims 4 and Minecraft, and indulges in spooky games with her sibling. Emily is also drawn to all things witchy, from studying crystals to exploring astrology and spiritual wellness. She finds joy in curating vibes on Pinterest, creating vision boards and playlists, and enjoying all types of music from metal and classic rock to pop and house.

Specializing in vivid colors and transformative blonding services, Emily loves experimenting with color blocking, full bleach outs, and vibrant rainbows. She also excels in customized blonding and brunette services, from subtle face-framing highlights to lived-in blonde looks. Embracing her newfound love for cutting shags and supportive layer cuts, Emily enjoys creating lived-in and looser curl or wave-supportive styles, enhancing her clients’ natural textures.

Emily’s journey into hairstyling was driven by her desire for a fun and creative career path. What began as an unexpected opportunity at her local technical high school quickly became her passion and calling. Emily finds fulfillment in providing her community with a beautiful outlet for self-expression while prioritizing hair care that supports her clients’ health and lifestyle.  Her dedication and talent have earned her recognition, being named the Runner-Up for Baltimore Style Magazine’s Best Hair Stylist in 2022 and receiving a nomination in 2023.

Achievements and Certifications

2016 – S/P2 Cosmetology + Environmental Safety Certified
2021 – K18 Training Certified

Katie Milano

Katie is a seasoned stylist with over 7 years of experience in the industry. With a year officially behind the chair, Katie has honed her skills to specialize in lived-in color, vibrant and vivid hues, and, of course, perfecting those beautiful blondes.

Outside of the salon, Katie indulges her passion for all things Twilight, enjoys shopping for the latest trends, and is always up for trying out new restaurants.

In her chair, Katie strives to create a safe and enjoyable environment where everyone can freely express themselves and leave feeling confident in their own skin. Join Katie on a journey to unlock your hair’s full potential!

Nikki Townsend

Nikki’s passion for hairstyling began at an early age and has blossomed into a career marked by over a decade of experience. A graduate of the Midwest College of Cosmetology, Nikki has honed her craft in various salons across the country.

Specializing in a range of colors and clipper work, Nikki’s creativity shines in every style she creates. Her dedication to making people feel good extends to catering to clients’ unique needs, including those with sensory sensitivities.

Driven by a desire to inspire and uplift, Nikki continues to leave her mark in the world of hairstyling, one exceptional style at a time.  Beyond hairstyling, Nikki finds joy in the company of her pets and the thrill of mastering roller skating. With a love for plants and nature, she draws inspiration for her artistry.  Contact Nikki to experience her artistry and warmth firsthand.

Achievements and Certifications

2022 – Hairskeen hair replacements certification
2023 – Bellamai extension certification