This Hair Whisperer thing has been brewing for over 100 years: Hair is in my blood. My father, grandfather and great-grandfather were each hair junkies each in their day. And hair has been my passion and song for more than three decades. Over the course of my career, I’ve been blessed to work as a hairstylist, chemical engineer, and brand strategist. In moments along the way, my jobs and accomplishments seemed disparate and disconnected. However, in retrospect, I appreciate the curvy path I’ve taken. The Blessed journey developed a depth and breadth of expertise about hair that I could have never imagined.
The Early Years
I started cutting hair as a kid and by high school I had a little business that financed all of the fun things an ambitious young woman wants to do. In retrospect, I am amazed at how much time I spent doing hair. I likely logged more than 10,000 hours doing hair by the time I headed into undergrad. Looking back, I marvel at how many grown folks trusted me to sculpt their aesthetic even though I was just a teen; and most amazed that my parents basically let me run a salon out of their home!
I chose to study chemical engineering to learn how to make the products I was using. I am a nerd at heart! My parents thought that I was doing too much hair at Carnegie Mellon to fully apply myself to my studies (they were probably right 🙂 ). So I wound up with the “opportunity” to pay for school myself and did so through a blessed twist of fate: I joined the startup team for the first full-service, high-end ethnic salon in Pittsburgh: DC Styles!
Product Formulation for Dudley and Soft Sheen
When DC Styles was sold and I finished undergrad, I fell in love, absolutely in love with product development: formulating relaxers and hair color and styling products for Dudley Products, Soft Sheen and a couple of startups here and there. All the while, I enjoyed evening and weekend time working behind the chair as a hairstylist. My product development and product engineering work was so pleasurable that sometimes I felt guilty about my paycheck I would have done it for free!
This period of working in the lab and production floor by day and the salon by night taught me the chemistry of hair and gave me an in-depth appreciation for its complex simplicity.
Fast-forward through getting married, having beautiful babies and figuring out how to be a real grown-up. In 2000, I opened The Image Studios, a Chicago-based personal branding firm. I worked with an outstanding team of experts who rounded out clients’ personal images, giving me time again to be behind the chair full-time. I enjoyed helping clients select and maintain feature-flattering hairstyles that fit their lifestyles and aligned with their personal brands. I was doing waaayyy too much hair at the time, inadvertently establishing a reputation as a talented Chicago hairstylist.
A car accident left me unable to do hair for a while, forcing me to shift my focus to the business of my business. My injuries healed but as The Image Studios grew, my time behind the chair diminished significantly as I focused on the broader realms of entrepreneurship, marketing and personal branding.
With the purchase of the Image Studios’ brick-and-mortar location in Chicago’s west loop, we needed a new legal structure to hold, and share, more of the goodness in store for The Image Studios. A new entity, Personal Care Solutions LLC. emerged, an umbrella under which new brands would later shelter and grow. The first of which was The Image Studios, Santa Monica! Our expansion into Los Angeles was a great idea at the wrong time. The Santa Monica expansion failed, and we learned lots in the process.
Hair Meets Health Care – a Lupus Pilot Study
Body image intervention to improve health outcomes in lupus: a pilot study.
One of the best mistakes I ever made was saying yes to Dr. Meenakshi Jolly’s request to study the impact of body image changes in lupus patients. The Image Studios team provided wardrobe, makeup and hair solutions for the duration of a pilot study that showed that a patient’s health outcomes are linked to body image. When we look good, we feel better. This research study and my own personal health journey would later collide into documentary filmmaking. READ ARTICLE
The Original Hair Whisperer– an Alias
In 2016, I pitched the manuscript for “Hairsterical”, an anthology of salon horror stories. The literary agent explained that the book would have commercial viability if only I knew something about hair. The internet had become the boss and had no record of me as a hairstylist, despite my gift with hair and elite clientele. The Original Hair Whisperer alias allowed me to build a web presence as a hair expert and create a new online hair community, and it bolstered my courage to tackle my next “big hairy audacious goal”!
HairCamp™ Home Edition is born
Silver linings of the pandemic lockdown are everywhere – and this is one. A client and friend suggested that I create an online school to continue to support clients virtually during the global pandemic.
Media + Entertainment Collaborations
My namesake LLC is all about integration! Today, I am home to five hair-related television series concepts, three books, one feature film and a bevy of other collaboration opportunities! Nothing shapes opinion quite like the media, and the potential for strategic business integrations are nearly endless and beyond inspiring!