Master Stylist Yvey Valcin: Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair

An Interview With Jilea Hemmings

Jilea Hemmings
Authority Magazine

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Accept your texture! The first thing a person can do to have beautiful hair is to accept the texture that you have, cherish it, and love it.

As a part of our series about “Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Yvey Valcin.

Yvey Valcin is a celebrated master stylist based in Seattle. Known for his superior cutting technique and unique gift for uncovering the individual beauty within his clients, Yvey has styled top editorial and fashion events such as New York and Paris Fashion Week and was one the highest rated stylist at the flagship Gene Juarez salon in Seattle.

His unique and inclusive salon is located in Seattle’s Chophouse Row, you can learn more and book an appointment by visiting: www.yvey.com.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you so much for having me, I am really excited to join you and your audience.

It all started when I must have been around five years old, I was in Haiti watching my older sister doing hair for people in our neighborhood. I remember that my first remark was that she was the most important person in the community; I admired the way the people in our community would treat her with such high regard and talk about her with such enthusiasm. It was then that my little five-year-old self decided I wanted to be like her. So, I started to walk around with a pair of scissors in my pocket. Luckily, some of my friends would let me cut their hair.

Two years later, I was almost as popular as my sister. When you are born to Caribbean parents, they choose a career path for you (this is the cultural standard) and being a hairstylist was not an option in their eyes. Often, I would sneak out to do a haircut for someone, and it was during these times that I realized that this was something I really enjoyed doing.

I held it in my back pocket while focusing on school (which was largely to appease my parents).Fast forward, after college, I decided to take a leap of faith and enroll into beauty school, and I must say that was the best decision I’ve ever made. I am very grateful to have this as my career today.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Hmmm, the most interesting story does include a celebrity client I had, and due to the private nature of their lives I won’t disclose all the juicy details, but let’s just say it somehow ended up in a whirlwind (and very unplanned) weekend in Mexico.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

The tipping point in my career happened when I found my confidence. I found my confidence when I gained enough experience to know that I had the ability to meet the needs and desires of anyone who came to sit in my chair.

In part this was due to the years of experience and exploration, anywhere I thought I could gain experience from I went (and still do): fashion shows, hair shows, theatre, night life, literally anything and everything, there are lessons to be learned everywhere.

I’ve also traveled to many different countries and studied techniques and style; I continually seek inspiration in all places. Just learning the technical aspects of a haircut is not enough to find success in this industry, you must find inspiration and purpose; through that comes authenticity, creativity and alas, success. Every day when I wake up, I am excited to go to work, and to me that is success in itself.

In your experience what were the most effective ways for your business to generate leads and sales? Can you share a story or give an example?

The most effective ways that my business is generating leads has been word of mouth, online reviews, and choosing the right location. Social media I think is important, but not number one, not for me at least.

I’ve found success in business by creating meaningful interactions with each of my clients which then creates a wave of more clients via referrals from their friends and family.Having a five-star rating on google has been probably the second biggest lead generator for me.

Another big contributing factor has been the location of the salon, it is in a trendy neighborhood of Seattle that is rich with diversity, culture, art, and fashion.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are many people that I feel grateful to that I’ve helped and believed in me along the way. There is one person in particular, a great friend, who has helped me beyond what I would’ve imagined, and I have great gratitude for and towards him.

I’m grateful to him because he helped me through the process of opening my first salon and opening my business. While my expertise is in hair, his is business and he was able to extend his knowledge and resources in a way I couldn’t have done on my own at that time.

When you are passionate about something you must show it to the right people and in the right environment. What I mean by that is you need to elevate your voice and tell people what your goals are, don’t hide your dreams or your talents.

Yes, there are people that will try to tear your dream down, but, more importantly, there are people that will lift your dream up. I have experienced both and I’m here today celebrating these experiences because I learned from those that didn’t support me, and I’ve made it because of those select few who believed in me in an extraordinary way.

In short, stay humble, stay hungry, and don’t be shy about your goals and aspirations, someone important to your success is probably listening.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

Early in my career, my first week working as a stylist in a salon, I was washing my client’s hair and I was so nervous that I accidentally sprayed her in the face with water.

I remember saying, “Oops! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!” and quickly grabbing some towels to hand to her. Needless to say, I left the scene and went and told my manager to have someone else finish the service I was so embarrassed. While at the time I was mortified, from this experience I have learned to stay calm in what feels like a stressful situation and to remain flexible and take things in stride. Oh, and to keep a sense of humor about yourself(laughing).

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?

Yes, I have been blessed because I am doing the exact thing I am supposed to be doing. I love doing hair, I love the industry, and that is my passion, so every day is a success for me.

My advice to others who have a dream of becoming a hairstylist is: please, don’t give up, focus on your dreams, focus on your passion. Truly, passion comes first, there are many people who are monetarily successful and are yet unhappy, because they’re doing something they’re not passionate about.

A lot of people will also tell you that you cannot make it, you don’t have the skills, you don’t have the attitude, you don’t have the means; but deep inside you know what’s burning inside you, just follow your gut, follow your passion and that’s the path to ultimate success.

Like many, this industry can be difficult, but more than anything be tenacious, believe in yourself in a way that convinces and inspires others and don’t give up. You can reach your goals if you keep at it, it’s not if you will, it’s simply when you will.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you please share “Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair”. Please share a story or an example, for each.

I think having beautiful hair is far simpler than we usually think:

(1) Accept your texture! The first thing a person can do to have beautiful hair is to accept the texture that you have, cherish it, and love it.

(2) Second, you try to find a way to treat that hair texture in a way that optimizes the hair’s potential. Get the right haircut for your hair. Yes, you need/want to incorporate your personal style and desires into the haircut, but if you want something that goes against the natural tendency of your hair, you’ll be fighting with it, and that’s not the ideal state or presentation of your hair, so get a haircut that first suits your texture and secondarily incorporates your style and aesthetic.

(3) Use good products.I use a lot of La Biosthetique products in my salon amongst a few others, there are many professional products out there that are high quality, safe, and effective. Invest in professional products, the difference is easily seen between these and those you can get online or over the counter. Once you know what your hair texture is like, you can find the proper products for the hair. Also, it’s good to have a regiment by going to a professional salon and to get the best advice from your hairstylist to be able to help you know exactly what kind of products your hair needs. Often, we try to use products that work for you but not for the hair. My philosophy about hair is simple, give it what it wants. Think about giving the hair what it needs first, and second, give the hair the style you want to present to the public. In my experience, the hair will never give you what you want without giving the hair what it needs. That’s why it’s critical to know the state of the hair. By understanding the state of the hair, you are in a better position to do something that can protect and maintain it, while optimizing the style.

(4) Go to a salon routinely. If you keep your hair looking good and in a healthy state, you will prevent misadventures from occurring. If you come in with 5 months’ worth of roots to color and the hair is in an unhealthy state it is going to take more work to get it looking and feeling good, and it won’t be as beautiful as an outcome as it could’ve been if it were properly maintained. So, don’t sleep on your stylist, make it a regular visit at whatever interval is best for you and recommended by your stylist. In short, if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.

(5) If you use heat, you better protect those locks from it. Repeated unprotected exposure to heat can be more damaging than people realize. Always use a heat protectant if you are a slave to your blow dryer and/or curling or straitening iron. It’s okay to use heat to get the style you want, but if you want fabulous hair you have to keep it healthy, and to do this you must use a protectant prior to applying the heat to your beautiful hair. Also, if you go back to my number one suggestion of accepting and loving your texture, you might need less heat than you thought to get the results you’re after. With the right haircut styling also gets easier and less damaging to the hair.

Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

For me the three things that can make you feel beautiful always are confidence, kindness, and an authentic sense of style.

The first and most important idea of the three is confidence. Confidence is your winning weapon, it’s a subtle attitude, it’s a rhythm, and you dance to it in your own way. When people are comfortable in their own skin it radiates authenticity, which people connect to.

The second one is to be kind, when you are kind to the world and to your community (and do it with a sense of humility) it’s a beautiful thing in and of itself. When you are kind and you have a sense of confidence, wow,that is so beautiful to see!

The third and final thing on this list for me is to find a sense of style.Find a personal style that feels authentic to you, bring out the best version of yourself!Rock your style to the moon and back with confidence, kindness, and humility. You know what that is? That’s the ultimate beauty.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I’ve always thought it was tremendously important to always give back to your community in a way that utilizes your skillset.

Start doing a good deed (free service) once per month, just one appointment, one or two hours of your time, we can all do this. You’ll be surprised how much it will enrich your own life. Often, we think we are helping others, and we are, but in the end, we’ve received more than we’ve given.

I love doing hair so much and through my career I have been blessed for the people that I have met along the way. I remember early on; it was important for me to give my gift to people that couldn’t afford to come to the salon. I took my craft, my skills, and my passion outside of the salon and volunteered with so many different communities, organizations, and groups.

I’ve been blessed to be of service as a stylist for those undergoing cancer treatments that are losing their hair, and it was of great value for me to understand that side of beauty. It’s humbling to understand the importance of hair for those individuals, it was a lesson that I learned greatly from.

The movement I would support and like to see expand is a movement that helps this world to be a beautiful place by providing beauty to the communities of people that don’t see themselves as beautiful.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote is, “Give and you shall receive.”

I recall early in my career I was giving by providing services to a lot of people that were in need of haircuts. I would reach out to certain organizations where I could volunteer my services. I’ve always had that urge deep, deep in my heart to give to someone in need (even if it’s just a smile). I did this during a time when I wasn’t making money very much, quite frankly I didn’t even have enough to maintain my own life, but I felt the urgency, almost to the point of an obligation to give someone a haircut.

As I advanced in my career and became more successful, I’ve continued this tradition of giving back to this day.It’s one of the things I love to do. Any day of work I’d like to give a free haircut to somebody if I can, and I always in return I am blessed with even more than I gave.

I think that the lesson is: the beauty of giving is the same as the beauty of receiving. By giving you will receive. If everyone gives everyone will receive.I have been blessed by the people in my life. I live that lesson every day, to give and you shall receive.

Many times, you don’t even have to give a lot, it’s simply the gesture of giving that provides someone in need with more than you could imagine. Usually, the people that are giving are giving because they know the value and impact it has (and pro-tip, it feels amazing!).

The world we live in is missing kindness, connection, and community; as a hairstylist I think the most important job is to put a smile on someone’s face and to make people feel better than they did before our interaction.Making people feel good is a responsibility and I honor and cherish that every day. For me it is always a privilege to have someone to come sit in my chair and be excited, grateful, and happy for me to do their hair.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. :-)

The person I would really, really love to sit with one day and have breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or even just share a little time, is Ellen DeGeneres. She is wonderful! She’s just beautiful inside and out. Ellen is a loving, authentic human being and has such a sense of being. I have always had a feeling (or hope) ever since I discovered her that one day, I would meet her.

She’s funny, she’s smart, she’s intelligent, she’s a genius and she has amazing hair! She’s a person of substance who is doing good and promoting positivity in this world, and that’s a person I would love to meet any day of the week.

So, yes, Ellen is my number one person I’d like to meet, but I wanted to also say that you all are doing a wonderful job! You’re creating a platform where people like myself can share my ideas and my passion, so this is very important to me.This is a big honor for me, and I hope you continue to find more success and continue to cultivate a space where we can all find community, value and great information. This was a wonderful interview, I’ve had a lot of fun and I cherish this experience, looking forward to doing it again, anytime!

How can our readers follow you online?

You can find me on Instagram @yveythestylist or @yveysalon, on Facebook @yveysalon and if you’d like to book services or learn more about the salon you can visit our website: www.yvey.com

This was very meaningful. Thank you so much!

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Jilea Hemmings
Authority Magazine

Founder Nourish + Bloom Market | Stretchy Hair Care I Author I Speaker I Eshe Consulting I Advocate For Diversity In Beauty