Leysa Carrillo Talks Expanding The Scope of Texture Hair Education For Stylists

Leysa Carrillo is a force to be reckoned with in the hair industry. As a Cuban woman, she understands the transformational journey that comes with curly education and why there isn’t a one-size fits all solution to cuts and styling. Her passion, drive, motivation, and empathy for helping elevate stylists around her is reflected in her work and entrepreneurial pursuits. Her 14 years of experience as a hair colorist has led to countless awards like the American Influence Award in 2020 and creative projects with international brands like Lacroix and Halo Top Ice Cream.

Her passion for teaching curly education to stylists around the world not only led becoming a brand ambassador for Redken but features in top magazines like Nylon, Seventeen, and Pop Sugar. Carrillo’s Forever Curls Academy teaches a hybrid learning model for stylists looking to advance their education and expertise in curly hair. When she’s not styling her clients in Florida, she’s taking the main stage on her 2024 National Tour meeting curly experts around the country and imparting her gems of wisdom.

Image Source: @leysahairandmakeup

We’re excited to chat with Leysa in honor of National Hairstylist Appreciation Day about all the game changing moments of her career.

How did your relationship with your hair impact how you viewed yourself growing up?

This is a really good question because everything is related, right? I grew up in a third-world country in a humid little town by the beach with no possibility of having any beauty experience. So, my struggles and my connection with my hair started at an early age due to different factors. One, I’m a mixed-race kid– my mom didn’t know how to do my hair, and on my dad’s side, my grandma passed away, so when she passed away, my mom was like, what did I do right now, right? I had to take responsibility for my hair with no products. 

Did you have any beauty blunders in the early years of your career that were big learning moments?

Leysa Carrillo Talks Expanding The Scope of Texture Hair Education For Stylists
Leysa Carrillo Talks Expanding The Scope of Texture Hair Education For Stylists

The biggest challenge for me was believing there was a beauty industry problem. I couldn’t believe there was such a big problem. I used to work at a salon and became part of the education team where I was facilitating the education coming to the salon, but not as an educator. 

There was an event where one educator had a model that didn’t show and needed me to step in. I asked, “Can you do my hair?” and he said, “Yes, of course.” Long story short, half of my hair was gone a week after that. It broke off literally, and I had to shave my head. So that was a lesson where I learned you have to be able to show you can do curly hair and have the proper training and background, you can’t just take a stylist at their word. 

What was a formative moment in your professional career that proved a game-changer?

There have been so many different ones, right? I think the first one was me having the strength and courage to be in places I wasn’t welcome. So I started my career cleaning the salon where I ended up working, which was transformative for me because I can say that I have an extremely humble background. I started this alone. There was nobody that looked like me. No Latina, no Hispanic, no Black stylist, and at the same time, I had to prove when I went on the floor I could do hair. 

I could do hair even though you saw me cleaning three months ago. I had to get tough skin to look up at the eyes of customers shaking my hand and say, “Welcome, follow me, I’m going to do your hair today.” A lot of internal work within me resulted in great customer service. I had to train myself to talk to people for them to believe in me so I could sell myself to somebody sitting in that chair.

Leysa Carrillo Talks Expanding The Scope of Texture Hair Education For Stylists
Image Source: @leysahairandmakeup

Another one was when I decided to consider natural hair as a hairdresser, switch my whole clientele, and start from zero. I wanted to be able to have a space for my curly girl community, right? I was already double-booked and making amazing money, but I had no space to welcome them. I think that it took a lot of strength to give up on something secure and start all over again. 

I have started over so many times in my life, but I think the other one was recently when I moved from the West Coast to the East Coast. I left my whole clientele for so many years and came to Florida with no clients, income, or anything like that. I was focused on building my education team and the people who are now educating me or for me. 

That was a big moment in my career that I will never forget. It was really hard, stressful, and financially risky. 

We’ve seen a drastic change in texture hair education and awareness between the CROWN Act and the NEW YORK SENATE BILL S6528A; how have your peers navigated the increased pressure to style curls, coils, and waves?

I feel that it’s extremely gratifying and exciting because I’m looking at genetics, society, and kids, which reflect where the future is going. Let’s say ten years from now, 80% of people will have some sort of texture. I remember going to Japan in 1999, and I remember I didn’t see anybody who looked like me. You didn’t even see mixed-race couples or families because they would never get married to somebody outside their culture. 

Now, there are more blended families appearing on billboards, TV, and film, and there’s not going to be any way that stylists are not going to learn how to style textured hair. Once a week, somebody is sitting on your chair with some sort of texture, and I’m not talking about like curly or color. I’m talking about people. I feel like that’s what the future is looking like and I’m super excited because I finally feel that people are understanding. 

What inspired you to create the Forever Curls Academy?

Leysa Carrillo Talks Expanding The Scope of Texture Hair Education For Stylists

Ten years ago, I was going viral in multiple communities, and I kept thinking, How much impact can I have on this community? Just me being at the salon, right behind the chair? I would help other salons with texture education because I was achieving healthy, beautiful, light colors without destroying the curls. Hence, the curls were forever, but I didn’t have branding, no name, anything.  I felt like I needed to do this, did you know? That’s The only way I can impact more people: if I can teach what I know. So more stylists could help girls like me, but it wasn’t enough. I’m a pioneer, so when I started teaching, I remember the only education available was Deva Curl.

I created the first academy where I could have a more intimate scenario where they can literally set up and get certified with a technique you learn in a day. The Academy is a hybrid learning system where we track your progress in so many different ways, both online and in person. The reason I created it was because I wanted people to be really, really good, not just learn technique and just do their haircut good, but understand the beauty of all textures.

Texture education can be a textbook in itself. What inspired the type of content you wanted to cover?

When I realized that people think one style of cut or one set of products can be used across all textures. There’s going to be different scenarios like where they live, their cultural background, how many textures are in their head, their current hair regimen. Not to mention that there is a big factor about the trauma that can happen with color, bleaching, and straightening. So when I go over the content, I want the students to understand the culture behind the hair. 

Image Source: @leysahairandmakeup

You need to understand where the person comes from and that should come from the first interaction when you send a text. I go over for example, genetics, people don’t talk about it. A customer could come with with a picture of a cut that they want, but genetically they were never going to have that. No matter what we do, so I teach how can you say that to somebody? How can you communicate effectively and with empathy?

Stylists are often multi-hyphenates between their clients, business, and growing platform; what are your tips for stylists looking to grow their business beyond styling?

I always tell my students to analyze their lives, you have to be emotionally mature to open a business life outside just being an employee. You have to be emotionally ready. You have to be financially ready and you have to really take a deep look on your life because people see one person doing it online and then just want to jump into owning a business.

There are tons of products flooding the market, how do you decide which brand or collection to use in your daily styling?

I have also an amazing app you can share, It’s called Think Dirty . If you scan the QR code on any product it tells you the ingredients, science, and any toxic ingredients in your beauty products. I trust so much professional products and brands that are on the market because they have better budget to make quality products. 

I would like to support a small business because I know what it goes on the back end and it’s a journey. Nobody knows what goes into creating a product, but budget has a large impact on the quality of the ingredients. For example, maybe your budget is $5 per bottle and the container is $4, so your putting $1.00 into whatever goes into the product, and most people don’t know that. It’s insane how many ingredients go into a product that so many companies can’t even afford. You know what I’m saying? Only the big companies can afford those things. So that’s why I trust more professional brands like the one’s you find in a salon. 

April 25th is National Hairstylist Appreciation Day; what are any tips you can give to help customers be more mindful of their interactions with their stylists?

Image Source: @leysahairandmakeup

Do your research. You do it for everything else whether it’s a doctor, dentist, insurance, or emergeny room. you go to the doctor, you don’t go to any doctor unless an emergency and you go to the emergency room. That would be my biggest advice. Do a little research. We are service providers. We are giving our heart and soul. It’s such a beautiful industry and I think a lot of them miss opportunities to scale and change their service offerings. 

Social media provides a platform for videos, and there is a high expectation from customers for a stylist to deliver and they aren’t considering there is lighting and photoshop impacting what they see. I feel like if you are looking for inspiration or a salon to get your hair done, your nails done, do your research. Look at that persons work personality environment and how does the salon treat people? 

Are you a stylist ready to expand your education with Leysa? Enroll in the Forever Curls Academy today!

No comments yet.