Meeting the Woman Behind Uptown Curl
My first interaction with Kristy was during one of my routine Express Cuts. The stylist in training cutting my curls asked her a question and Kristy immediately dropped what she was doing to help. She examined my hair with an expert eye and exclaimed, “You have mermaid hair.” Then she answered my stylist’s question, gracefully guiding her through a small demonstration, and observed and praised as my stylist took over with renewed confidence. This is Kristy. She knows just what to say to make any curly person glow, she’s passionate about the educational growth of her work family, and a talented teacher who has honed her craft. Her story is one that deserves to be told and her hard work in the curly community and beauty industry deserves recognition.
Fun Facts About Kristy
Sitting in Kristy’s styling chair is undoubtedly daunting. She is a Wonder Woman of Curly-kind and her confidence, years of leadership, and experience show in everything she says and does. I was pretty intimidated at the prospect of interviewing her, but she has a way of putting people at ease and after a few minutes of chatting with her most of my nerves were gone. I learned that, like most superheroes, Kristy’s story of success begins with humble roots. Before getting into the hair-talk, I wanted to get a glimpse into what makes Kristy, Kristy…so I started with the most telling question a person can ask: what’s your favorite food?
As expected, Kristy’s answers revealed someone as complex and unique as their gorgeous head of hair. Kristy adores pickled food, “I’m weird. I love kimchi…or pickled herring.” She also shows an aptitude for the classics when it comes to desserts, “My favorite dessert has to be freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.” As a Wisconsin native I had to ask her what her favorite kind of cheese was. She proved her refined taste with “sharp cheddar.” Classic, refined, a little weird…what does that amount to? Someone with a creative vision and the determination to see it through. If this isn’t Kristy, I don’t know who is.
Humble Roots and Frizzy Ends
Growing up, Kristy found herself at bitter odds with her hair. With no curl-models to look up to and limited access to hair products, Kristy said with a regretful chuckle, “My hair was totally frizz.” Perms were popular in the 80s, but naturally curly hair? Ironically, Not so much. “My mom had a tight spiral perm. she knew how to take care of her curls but not mine. I had a lot of frizz and very little control over the products I could use. It wasn’t until eleven or twelve that I started to realize I could put a styling product in my hair.” While learning to love and accept frizz is now an essential part of any curly girl’s life, dealing with society’s judgement is a serious setback. Kristy’s frizz made her the center of cruel, hair directed insults. As time went on she gave up on salon haircuts, loaded her hair with styling products, stuck to, “really tight braids and ponytails” to harness the frizz while she searched the world for any curly hair tips and tricks.
Curly Friends and Family
Kristy’s bio on the Uptown Curl website references one of the most important catalysts in Kristy’s personal and professional life, “Kristy’s life changed when she met Lorraine at a Curl-by-Curl cutting workshop in Atlanta in 2013. They bonded over their passion for doing curly hair and their near identical heads of corkscrew curls. Since then they’ve become close friends and collaborators.” Rather than keep this curl club exclusive, both Kristy and Lorraine have worked hard to spread the curl love through their writing, styling, and business talents.
Uptown Curl is a business, but to Kristy it’s something more intimate: family. Family that continues to grow, “In the beginning we only started with four of us…now the company has grown to over twenty employees.” Kristy’s fondness for her team is evident. She’s helped them make their first curly cuts and she gets to watch them branch out as they, “make really amazing connections and relationships with people…and help improve people’s lives.”
The family sentiment doesn’t stop with the Uptown Curl team, but expands to the surrounding community. One of Kristy’s greatest values is “the continued support we receive from the communities we have salons in. Our clients bring their kids and friends and family to us. It says a lot that they trust us. We really honor and value that trust and we do our best to always stay true to what our focus is…which is to help people with curly hair love the hair they were born with.”
In order to fulfill this mission, Kristy is constantly doing everything she can to reach as many curly people as possible and considering they make up half of the population, it isn’t the easiest job. Thankfully, Kristy has her team and community backing her at all times, “We all have curly hair and we all have that foundational understanding of how important your hair is and how important it is to how you feel about yourself and your identity…we try to keep helping as many people as we can, which is why we keep expanding.”
Taking On the World One Uptown Curl at a Time
Kristy is passionate about her future clients and it is this passion that drives her to reach people who would have to cross states just to have their hair cut. She’s seen the difference her existing salons have already made in the lives of Curly People in need of cuts and dreams about the future, “People were going to New York to get their haircut. People come to us from Iowa, someone comes from Nebraska, people come from the Dakotas…I would love to keep building salons in cities all throughout the midwest.” Kristy is already making this dream come true, so stay tuned to see where she goes next!