Tell us about how you got your start in the beauty industry.
I didn’t have an average upbringing. My childhood was kind of crazy. My mom gave me away to my aunt, who sent me somewhere else. I was a street kid who only had an eighth-grade education, and I really had no idea what I was going to do at all. Hair was really the only thing I was good at and all I knew how to do, which is why I made the decision to go to hair school.
After I finished hair school, I called my uncle, who had a big hair and makeup agency. I let him know that I was ready to be represented by him, and he told me that I was crazy because that’s not how it worked. He got me a job at a salon, where I assisted, but before I could do that, I had to get to the salon early to help clean the toilets and get everyone coffee, which I did not like and I was vocal about that. They ended up firing me and told me that I would never make it in this industry in New York City.
My uncle offered me a job working inside the office at his agency, assisting stylists he represented. One day, he told me that Mariah Carey needed someone to do her hair and asked if I was ready. I went to the appointment, we hit it off and I ended up doing all of her daily appointments while assisting. After doing that for a while, her stylist couldn’t do her hair for one of her shows, so her manager asked me to do it. From there, I started doing her hair for all of her big shows and events.
Did you dream of becoming a celebrity hairstylist?
I didn’t even know what being a celebrity or editorial hairstylist entailed. My uncle and I weren’t close to the point where he would talk to me about his business. There are some people who live and breathe fashion, but I wasn’t one of those people. I wasn’t a fan of any celebrity, and I didn’t go to concerts. Even to this day, I don’t look at them differently than other people because, at the end of the day, they’re just people. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in the industry, but I knew that I wanted to support my kids and I could do that by working with hair.
What do you enjoy most about working with hair?
I never feel like I’m working. My job is so fun that, when I’m not working, I’m always thinking about it and wanting to work on my clients’ hair. I get to meet the most amazing people and travel the world! The most amazing part is the reaction you get from people when you make them feel like a better version of themselves through their hair. A lot of the clients I have don’t look the same after glam, so I think making them feel like the best version of themselves and then getting the callback to do it again are two very satisfying things to me. We spend so much of our life working, and I think it’s so amazing that I’m able to work in a job that doesn’t even feel like work because of how much I love it.
What advice do you have for other stylists who want to work as celebrity or editorial stylists but don’t know where to start?
Find a hairstylist you love who is doing what you want to be doing, reach out to them and send them a message— whether directly or through their manager—and ask to assist them. I have three assistants, and I found them because they reached out to me. That’s your way in. When I work with a client, they constantly see my assistants. They get comfortable with them, so if I can’t do something, I send my assistant. That’s how I got in, and I still think it’s a great way to get your foot in the door. You have to remember that things take time and won’t happen overnight, but assisting someone gives you access to not only their knowledge but also their contacts and network.
What’s the secret to working with celebrities and creating red-carpet styles?
When you’re working with a celebrity, there are so many different events you could be prepping them for. They could be performing, acting or walking a red carpet, but you have to remember that it doesn’t make them any different from you or me. At the end of the day, we can all do hair to some extent or we wouldn’t be where we are, but my key ingredient is the energy you bring into the room. You’re the last person to touch the client before they walk out of the room, so you have to make it fun and light. You can’t put what you’re going through onto the client, and you have to compartmentalize what you’re going through until the job is done. As for technical tips, you have to keep in mind that you need to make the look last. To do that, you have to build the foundation of the hair properly. I’m obsessed with details and making the look perfect to the point where some clients might get a little annoyed, but I would rather touch it up as many times as possible to make sure that I know it’s going to be perfect. In the end, the client will respect and understand it because it will turn out the way they wanted and lasts a long time. You have to be fearless and trust yourself.
You’re also a SexyHair Style Ambassador. What do you enjoy most about your role and working with the brand?
A lot of brands may look at me and think I’m a little rough around the edges or a little loud, but SexyHair embraces who I am and the idea of what sexy is. I’m not like the average person. If you don’t know me, you might be taken aback when you first meet me because of my personality and the fact that I don’t have a filter. I love that I can be my true and authentic self with SexyHair and that they don’t try to change who I am. I can have a voice, I can be who I am, and I can share what my journey through life has been. The realness behind the brand is amazing. To them, sexy hair isn’t just beautiful hair but an energy. To them, sexy can be anything and anyone, and the brand encourages people to be who they want to be.
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