If you’re a curly in Texas, chances are, you’ve heard of April Kayganich based in Austin. And chances are, if you tried to get an appointment, you had to wait six months to get one. She’s that good.
She took time out of her busy schedule – and planning her wedding – to answer NaturallyCurly’s questions.
NC: How did you get started in the beauty industry?
April: It all began when I started cutting my hair at 10 years old because I was terrified to have anyone touch my hair. I had the option to go to Cosmetology school in high school, but my father didn't think that was the best decision for a career. So I went to art school instead, which was another passion of mine. Being in college and sitting behind a computer did not make me feel fulfilled.
I eventually dropped out at the end of my second year and moved back to Detroit from Los Angeles where I was in school. I found a job in the restaurant Industry and vowed to myself that I would put myself through hair school. I moved back to Detroit when I was almost 20, but didn't get to cosmetology school until I was 26.
It took working and saving up money, moving to Texas at 23 and being at my lowest point emotionally to get me to that point. I wanted to make sure I was happy and that what I did was something I loved. Fast forward and it has been six years of me doing hair as a licensed professional, and I can't see it any other way.
NC: What made you want to be a curly hair expert?
April: I wanted to be a curly expert because of what I went through when I was a child. Luckily, my mother knew how to take care of my hair. But when I got older, around middle school age, I noticed that no one else had curly hair at my school. I noticed that when we would go to the store, I would want products to control my curls and define them, but there was nothing. There was always that tiny section hidden amongst the "hair products" that was labeled "ethnic hair care.”
Let’s be clear: you can be any color and have curls, so that always confused me and made me upset. I am half African-American and half Serbian-Greek, and I inherited hair from my parents that I couldn't appreciate until I was older. I was scared to go into any salon, so I started cutting my hair myself. From there, I would help my cousins pick out hair products and I would trim or shape my friends’ hair as well as any family members.
I want to be able to be a role model for anyone out there who is afraid to rock her curls because I didn't have that when I was younger. I want to make sure that I can educate people so they can feel confident and know how to style their hair in a way that works for them. I don't ever want anyone to feel alone because of their hair. I am here to change that.
NC: How have you honed your skills?
April: From Day 1, with anything I do, I always want to learn everything about it that I can, and I want to be the best. I am such a Virgo (if astrology is your thing. But I have worked long hours, taken so many classes, experimented on mannequins, connected with other stylists, taken time to draw and paint, which really helps my visualization skills. Most important, I have never stopped learning. This industry is constantly changing and that is why I want to be a part of that.
NC: What do you think is unique about your technique?
April: When I am doing color or cutting curls, I look at every single curl pattern on the head so that I am making them all work together. My background is in Sassoon, which is very mathematical. I love it because I can look at someone and see the haircut in my head.
How I cut the actual curl is different than most people I have seen and I don't cut every curl the same. I also don't like to style curls so they are “perfect.” I think curls should have a little frizz and look lived in. To me, that is real life. I don't see many stylists out there doing that.
I work on a client’s hair, I talk extensively with them before the appointment to make sure we are on the same page.
NC: What inspires you to elevate your craft?
April: Both my clients and my personal goals, but mostly my clients because I wouldn't be here without them and I want to always give them something fresh. I want to stay up to date on trends so I can put my own spin on their cut and color, be knowledgeable about techniques, know the latest terms and be able to create a look that is suitable for them while still being modern and unique.
I am also motivated by others who share their work on social media. It is so inspiring to see other stylists building their brands and putting their mark on the industry, and that encourages me to keep striving to be better than I was the day before.
NC: Who are some of the stylists that inspire you most?
April: There are so many! But if I had to pick, definitely Mona Baltazar because she is a true artist with texture and curls, Shai Amiel owner of Capella Salon, Haiya and the amazing Leysa Carrillo, whose color and cuts on curls are absolute MAGIC!
NC: What are your top curly hair tips?
April: Water! Your hair needs water. Make sure your curls are soaking wet before applying product. Stay away from towels, especially non-microfiber towels. And make sure to preserve your hair overnight by putting your hair in a pineapple with a silk scarf.
NC: What are you the CG questions/concerns you get the most from clients?
April: There are two questions/concerns that I hear all of the time: “How do I get more volume?” and "I want more curl definition.” Both are achieved by making sure you apply products correctly and that you are picking appropriate products for your hair type.
NC: What are your top techniques or tips that make a difference?
April: My No. 1 tip is to pick products that work best for your texture, not your curl type! Texture is the base of everything. (Find out your texture with NaturallyCurly’s Texture Quiz)
Another tip that makes a huge difference is to be patient when you are styling/diffusing your hair. You have to make sure those dryers are on a low speed and a low heat when diffusing to avoid frizzy curls.
NC: Do you have a story about a curl transformation with a client?
April: One of my favorite things is to bring out a client’s "hidden" curl. The curl may be hidden because the hair is dehydrated, because they don’t know how to style the hair or because of damage from relaxer, I love being able to show people what their hair's potential is.
My client Kristen came to me with almost all of her hair damaged from a relaxer. I had her come in every three months to cut off the straight ends, little by little, because she wasn't ready for a big chop. By the time we got to the third - nine months in - she looked at me, gently grabbed my arm and said “Let's just do it. I trust you.”
We decided if it got to be too much cutting, or the length seemed scary, she would let me know and we would stop. Well, we both were so happy to see these amazing curls peeking out! I think out of every transformation I have done, this one sticks with me the most.
Embracing your curls is more than people think. It is about self-acceptance. It is about saying “I am okay with me and how my hair is and I don't care what society thinks.”
Some people call curly hair "unprofessional", or "wild" or "messy.” But it isn't any of those words. It is beautiful, period. It is strength, bravery and confidence.