When she’s not touring the world with her A-list celebrity and royal clientele, renowned hair stylist Kristan Serafino uses social media to “empower women with the tools, knowledge, and genuine confidence to transcend everyday expectations of beauty.” Her blog, SerafinoSays, is chock-full of practical hair care, skin care, and makeup advice, and an insider’s view behind-the-scenes of the movies, magazine covers, fashion shows, and television appearances that influence and inspire our beauty decisions.
Kristan and I met when we were named among Cosmopolitan Magazine’s “hottest up and coming bloggers” and I was instantly attracted to her “go-girl” spirit. That and the fact that she is capable of securing me a lock of Matthew McConaughey’s gorgeous curly hair. Kidding (not kidding).
We sat down earlier this week in the Theater District before enjoying a preview of Kinky Boots on Broadway (fabulous!) and here’s what Kristan had to say about reinventing herself after 30, the biggest “hair mistake” women make, best styles for busy moms, and more:
Babble: Did you always know you wanted to get into the hair business?
Kristan Serafino: For nearly as long as I can remember, but my mother who was a successful hair stylist had different thoughts on the subject. I distinctly remember announcing to mom at the age of 17 that I was becoming a hair stylist, to which she answered, “Not until you finish college…end of conversation!” As usual mom was right. After graduating from Boston College came a successful career in New York City’s Garment District, but at the age of thirty I decided to pursue my childhood dream. I wanted a career that fulfilled my artistic essence and fed my sociable personality. Fortunately both wishes were answered by becoming a hair stylist…and much more.
Babble: What steps did you take to establish yourself?
Kristan Serafino: To start, I scheduled interviews with people from all aspects of the industry to better understand the possible end game (I met with salon owners, union hairstylists “film & TV”, stylists new and old). In the near term my steps were already laid out by the State licensing board. A cosmetology license is required to practice hair styling, and it is mandatory that you graduate from a State-approved beauty school prior to sitting for the State cosmetology license.
I hope I’m an example to women that it’s never too late to start a new career. Of course it was scary, particularly since I was leaving a six-figure salary in a gleaming skyscraper for $6.50 an hour behind a wash basin. Since I was getting a late start on my second career I knew I had to follow an aggressive and strategic plan to establish a foothold in the business. I considered all my options in hair care and set a new course to follow. Throughout it all, I remained confident that if I put together a solid plan then my passion to become a hairstylist would overcome any obstacles.
Babble: Having achieved your dream, what’s the best advice you can give other women who also have a passion for hair styling and want to take it to the next level?
Kristan Serafino: I think to achieve sustainable success in the hair care industry you have to maintain a balance between the art and business. The hair care industry offers varying levels of creativity achieved through many business outlets such as salons (hair stylist, colorist, manager and owner), film & television, editorial (beauty, fashion magazines), education (beauty schools, brand representative), and sales (hair care product manufacturer or distributor representative). I recommend becoming familiar with all aspects of the business and weigh the pros and cons of each path. Success in any one of these areas can be highly rewarding financially and creatively but you need to understand them and decide which makes the most sense for your personal goals.
While I love the creative freedom of hairstyling, as an independent contractor I appreciate the need to run an efficient, effective and profitable service-based business.
Babble: Let’s talk hair! Is there a universal cut that looks good on all women?
Kristan Serafino: My choice is always a great-layered haircut. I am not referring to a Jennifer Aniston-type layer that when the layers are cut mainly around the sides framing the face. A layered haircut adds structure and style to most any length and texture of hair. The beauty of a great-layered haircut is that it brings life to a hairstyle in movement.
Babble: What do you consider the biggest hair “mistake” women make?
Kristan Serafino: They get too comfortable with their look and as a result resistant to change. Think about it this way; your hair is the only accessory your wear every day, all the time! So use it to your advantage. I believe that your hair should transition as regularly as the choice of your daily wardrobe. Obviously I’m not referring to significant change in cut and color, but subtle change in styling that better suits your environment whether you’re at play, work, or a special event.
Babble: Do you have any favorite trends for spring?
Kristan Serafino: Not to avoid your question, but I encourage people not to feel compelled to follow trends or popular theories about style. While a trending style, cut or color may look amazing on a favorite celebrity, it simply may not be right for you, or difficult to maintain throughout your daily routine. Be open to variations of the trend that may better enhance your personal style. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong advocate for change when it comes to hair, but approach significant changes in style and color with caution. There are many factors to consider, such as the current condition of your hair, the way your haircut is growing out, does the layering allow for quick change, how the color will appear with new lines and texture in the hair. Even your skin tone and makeup should be considered when approaching major change.
Babble: Who are your celebrity beauty icons? Past or present?
Kristan Serafino: That’s easy, Audrey Hepburn! Audrey managed to make every hairstyle look as though it was custom-made for her. Whether it was a perfectly coiffed bob, elegant chignon, or androgynous pixie crop, she epitomized chic and grace. Audrey always looked perfectly quaffed, both at work and play.
Babble: Give me your best tip for mom’s who may not have a ton of time to devote to maintaining their locks?
Kristan Serafino: A ponytail is a quick and easy style for a mom on-the-go (check out Babble’s 25 Ways to Dress Up Your Ponytail). Most haircuts conform to a ponytail and fortunately most women look good wearing one. Therefore my one best tip is how to achieve the perfect ponytail! SerafinoSays Pro Tip: The secret is to look up at the ceiling when at the same time securing the band. Once the band is secured, the hair at the nape will no longer gape along the neck.
Babble: You’re very active on Pinterest and your Shih Tzu Ringlett has a following. Love that!
Kristan Serafino: Yes! I always refer my blog readers to my Pinterest page for beauty inspiration. It has my personal work from the pages of magazines and celebrity red carpet events as well as a slew of other hair, makeup, bridal, and of course Ringlett pictures!
Check out what hair care products Kristan uses on her celebrity clients and what you’ll find in her makeup bag:
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Babble writer Jill Seiman is also the author of Glamamom, a personal lifestyle blog chronicling her style adventures as a New York City mom. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.