Hair Game: Meet Lacy Redway, Alicia Keys and Lupita’s trusted stylist
Garnering the trust of Hollywood’s biggest names, hair guru Lacy Redway has become a force in a beauty industry that is (FINALLY) broadening and becoming more inclusive.
Contributor: Marjon Carlos
As any well-coiffed woman will tell you, there is a certain level of trust she places in her hairstylist. Her crowning glory can hardly be left in the hands of a stranger--no matter how talented. No, she has to build up a sense of intimacy and vision with her hair guru. Part-psychiatrist, part-artist, part-family, hairstylists are not just whipping up a new ‘do, but helping to devise a new way to see oneself; which is perhaps why some of the biggest names in black Hollywood have found themselves indebted to the skillful work of celebrated hairstylist, Lacy Redway.
Lupita N’yongo. Tracee Ellis Ross. Alicia Keys. Ruth Negga. Zendaya. Amandla Stenberg. They’ve all flocked to Redway’s chair on the eve of their big red carpet appearances and have found themselves reinvented after the Jamaican beauty maven has her way with their manes. Fashion week has the in-demand artist booked and busy. The former Guido Palau apprentice, can be found whipping the strands of supermodels like, Jourdan Dunn, into place. Oh, and when these A-list celebs happen to be posing for the covers of major fashion magazines, Redway is always on set. From ELLE to Paper Magazine, the expert braider is busy twisting, spritzing, and building out dramatic, camera-ready coiffures that are ready for their close-up.
For a black woman to bust through the rather insular world of editorial beauty to become a major player in the game is an incredible story--and one that is emblematic of the huge strides the industry has taken in recent years. But the mother of one remains incredibly humble about it all.
Here, the hair visionary and busy mother to her five-year-old son, TK, reveals how she got her start, a few trade secrets, and why she’s always had a respect for Fashion Fair.
Do you have a Fashion Fair memory? Being a major beauty player, what does the brand mean to you?
The thing I can remember when I first heard of fashion fair was that it was kind of like F.U.B.U. (For Us, By Us). It was created to focus on our hues when other brands weren't really creating enough shades to cover the spectrum of tones that black women have. I'm excited to see how the brand will adjust in today's market with a younger consumer.
Growing up, were you always drawn to hair? Did family members/friends always have you doing their hair?
I’ve always done hair as long as i could remember. The love started out with braiding my dolls hair then I graduated to people in middle school. I was always the girl in school doing every one's hair. I would charge 10 dollars in middle school to do braid designs in every one's hair.
Who were some of your beauty idols growing up?
I grew up in the 90's, so I loved Lauryn Hill, Aaliyah, all the girl groups from Escape, SWV, TLC, Salt-n-Pepa, The Spice Girls, Total ....you name it. I also loved Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Mariah Carey. I'm forever stuck in the 90's because I just loved that moment in time for music--there was so much visual hair inspiration and style!
When did you realize that hair was your path?
I’ve always done hair, but It wasn't until I was exposed to hair beyond the salon that I realized it was something I wanted to pursue professionally. I always wanted something I felt would be more exciting than working in a hair salon everyday, and I always wanted to work in the fashion industry. I went to school for communication because I thought I would go into Public Relations. The last salon I worked in before I decided to go freelance, the owner of the salon would do photo shoots for hair extensions packaging and would take me along to be her assistant. I would stand next to the photographer and as the hair went out of place i would step in to put it back in place. Being apart of that process and seeing the end result really excited me. Never before that moment had it even crossed my mind that there was a hairstylist working behind the scenes to help create the covers of those magazines I would see. It was kind of my Oprah "Aha!" moment.
How did you get your start? What was your big break?
After having that experience of working on photo shoots, I decided to create my own opportunities. I hired a photographer, a makeup artist, and used my cousin as the model for my very first ever photo shoot. After hiring the makeup artist ,she saw that I was talented and invited me to do a test shoot with her and it all kind of took off from then. I was coming up in the beginning stages of social media and branding myself and didn't even realize it. I started displaying my work online on platforms like Myspace and Model Mayhem where I networked and met a lot of amazingly talented people that I still work with today.
(On set with Julee Wilson, Jason Bolden, and Vernon Francis)
Tell us about a typical day in your work life.
No day is alike for me. I’ve really been fortunate in the way I entered the business which has afforded me the opportunities to work in so many area's of beauty. After getting a good enough portfolio, I decided to contact the top agencies to assist their top artists on fashion shows. Along with word of mouth, a good reputation, the ability to do all hair textures and also a great hair braider, I was able to work on the teams the biggest hairstylist in the world like Guido Palau, Odile Gilbert, Eugene Souleiman, Didier Malige, Luigi Murenu, and Yannick D's to name a few.
Until a few years ago, I primarily focused my career on fashion and editorial work. I started off working with celebs on shoots. Once they like you, they will ask their publicist or managers to book you to do their hair for other events, like red carpet, when they do press to promote a project they are working on, or for a “do-and-go” (which literally means you do their hair and go home). I will say that after becoming a parent [to her son TK] that has become so exciting: to be able to work, but still have time to go home and be with my family. Now, my everyday could be anywhere from an editorial, advertising work, a do-and-go with my celeb clients, or flying across the world to work on exciting projects.
What do you love most about your job?
I really enjoy being able to work in a different office everyday with a different set of crew. It could be here in NYC or a beautiful island somewhere or the south of France. I love the end results and seeing my clients happy, and realizing my ability and conversations can help make someone feel great.
What has been one of your most memorable hairstyles or jobs you’ve worked on?
That's a tough one because there are so many…. One year, as an assistant, I worked on a HUGE fashion show with Guido [Palau]'s team. We got maybe eighty models ready with so many different hairstyles and makeup looks--every top model you can think of was there, it was incredible and one of my favorite memories as an assistant. Working with celebrities has also afforded me to be at some of the most memorable events. I got to go with Alicia Keys to the Women's March in January, the Democratic National Convention last year, and she also took over Time Square with a concert recently which was pretty epic. Getting to work with people you have admired and respect is always a great feeling. I collect so many memories traveling on work trips. It also never gets old passing a newsstand and seeing a magazine cover you worked on.
What do you find challenging and exhausting about the beauty industry?
It can be challenging at times as a person of color to not be put in a box. Sometimes it;s easy to be forgotten for ALL of your many talents when you can specialize in area's others can't. You want to be thought of for all projects and not just the ones that are needed for someone that can specialize in areas some hair artists may be be intimidated by.
How do you stay inspired when developing new styles? Where do you look for references?
I get inspiration from everything around me and from everywhere. I try not to model myself after anyone and sometimes I just dream up ideas. Its great to work in a creative field that can give you the opportunities to make your dreams (literally) come to life.
What was your own relationship like with beauty growing up?
Beauty was instilled from a young age. I was always well-groomed and my hair was kept neatly. Every Sunday my hair would be washed and my sister would do what we call bantu knots today in my hair. It was like a ritual.
What’s your own beauty/hair routine like for work and life?
I am more low maintenance with my beauty than most hairstylists. You won't see me with ten different hairstyles a month--I just kind of stick with my fro and maybe do a twist out. Right now I'm enjoying the Jane Carter Solution Curl To Go line and I use Rooted Treasures Jamaican Black Castor Oil. I also mix my own oils together to make a concoction. Getting older I have become more interested in skincare, though. I am still learning but intrigued by the process.
Your skin is incredible! What do you use to keep it glowing?
It’s honestly genetics. My mom is close to seventy and looks like she is in her fifties. I will say, my makeup artist friend Daniel Martin gifted me a Clarisonic that changed my beauty routine for the better. It leaves my face feeling so smooth and really helps removed additional makeup that may have been left behind just with a makeup wipe. Also, a very special and thoughtful client of mine gifted me a Jade Roller for Mother's Day and it works amazing. I keep it in the freezer and use it to reduce puffiness in my skin and under eye. I have noticed more compliments on my skin when I use it.
Were there any beauty secrets passed along to you by family members?
I think pride and hard work is the beauty secret that may have been passed on to me culturally. Jamaican people are really proud people--we always do everything to the best of our ability. It’s probably rare to meet a lazy Jamaican, we work hard and go hard for what we love.