Artistic director for Redken and Deva Curl products Isabella Vázquez sheds light on what it takes to make it big in the curly hair industry.
Hi, my name is Isabella Vázquez! I am based out of NYC and I am a Hairdresser/Editorial Stylist/Artistic Director who turned into a Public speaker for the Curly World.
I was born with lots of curls. No really, I was.
My mom tells me that the doctor took a look at me and turned to my mom and said “Don’t worry, she will shed some of it." It wasn't until I was 17 that she stopped trying to control my curls with roller sets. Then I started to continue to control my curls with a blow dryer, flat iron or curling iron even a real Iron. You name it, I probably did it. It wasn’t until my 20’s that I started wearing my hair naturally curly and starting experiencing the freedom of wearing my hair not only curly but what I refer to as unapologetically curly. This means natural texture with lots of volume--a mixture of curls and frizz.
In 2006 I had started to work For Redken 5th Avenue.
I was traveling for them at the time in the US and also outside of the US. teaching and working on runways, editorial shoots, covers for magazines and shows. Every time I was on stage teaching or in front of a crowd, I wore my hair curly. It’s the only way I felt confident about myself. In my career with Redken, someone must have noticed that I knew how to work with curly hair. It could possibly have been because I was great at straightening curly hair. As my career progressed in 2010, I was approach to lead a new launch that we would all be so excited over--a curly product called Curvaceous.
It was right there and then that I started to give everything of me to the curly world. Before then, my career consisted of not only working for Joe's Salon in CT, but also creating beautiful hair on models for shows and a camera, traveling and teaching how to recreate these looks. When immersing myself in this new venture of my career, I realized that I had to get to know the true me, as well as the community that I was born into.
I would wear my hair straight--not that I didn’t love my curls, but straightening my hair was a habit. So when I made the decision of committing to my curls, it became a whole new world.
I mean I finally could experience swimming in a pool without a care in the world or stand outside in the rain with curly hair. This curly world was amazing! It was then that I made a promise to myself that whatever I put in front of a camera for an editorial shot or hair photoshoot would be based on the truest love I felt and witness other curly girls to have with a relationship based on curls and texture.
I began to study curly hair but more than just hair I decided to get to know the lifestyle. What was the curl community talking about? What was in the center of their conversations? From products, natural methods, haircuts, color, trends, frizz, no frizz, shampoos no shampoos, wash everyday don’t wash everyday, to control or not to control, no tools, no heat the music curly girls listen to and the clothes they were rocking not to forget the hangouts spots. I mean, the list went on and on and on. Indeed, it was the culture. I needed to catch up, and I needed to do it quickly.
I learned the power that exists with curly girls.
Everyone in our world has opinions and sometimes very little facts. I think that may have come about from the fact that not all curls are created equal. Every curly girl and their curls are completely different from the next girl. What works for one may not be the story for the next head of curls. However, what I did love was that even if the method or the product wasn’t for your particular curls it didn’t matter because what was really important was the sharing of information and knowledge. Curly girls have each other’s backs. That was the most powerful lesson I have learned since redirecting my career and life towards the curly world.
In 2014 I was recruited by DevaCurl to be their first Artistic Director. This opportunity was an amazing one for so many reasons. It’s a company that only works with curls. With them I created new products, artistically lead photo shoots creating beautiful hair imagery for great launches like Super Cream and No Poo/One condition Decadence, worked with editors and educated other stylist. Even as I am writing this out, I have a big smile because the journey has been amazing. Its been a platform of lessons. As my journey continued I was discovering things about myself. I discovered that along with living a fabulous curl life to truly have my creativity flourish I needed to go out on my own. So, I have ventured out on my own. At first it was an intimidating idea but an extremely exciting one. I now am the founder of “Curlpopnhair.com”. Yes girl yes!
I love being part of the curly hair industry and having a voice in it. There is such fulfillment ...It’s the only way to get started in a career.
Because my big curls have become my life and a recognizable signature look, it is hard for me to find someone who I can trust to cut and color my curls the way I want them to be cared for. Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of amazing stylists who do good curls. I am talking more about someone who can see my vision with my curls. I love methods and techniques but I shy away from them because everyone then tends to look the same. It’s like buying a dress and showing up to a party where 10 girls have the same dress. It may be a fabulous dress but we will all look the same. I am all about customizing and individuality. In my search for that, I have found it in my husband John Sheppard. A corrections officer who has been traveling with me for the past 6 years, this man has sat through many of my classes, seminars, and photoshoots. I decided to teach him the basics, trust in his listening skills and creativity. Plus he loves me and he is very detailed and careful.
The products that you can find in my bathroom at all times:
It all depends on the look I am going for. My curls enjoy SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampoo for cleansing and SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore Leave-In. I swear these products have been helping my hair grow for the past 2 months (I cut 9 inches off). For a protein treatment since my hair is lightened, I can’t do with out CAT by Redken. On days where I want super defined curls, of course I am going to go with DevaCurl SuperCream--I worked on the product and I know what it does. To make my hair shine, I cannot live without argan oil--I mix it into my cleanser or my conditioner. Once my curls have dried, I rub some on my hands, squeeze and roughly shake my curls. I even put it on my skin. Also, I refuse to go with out my hair pic.
I know I am full of purpose.
I feel as though everything I have experienced in my life and career have helped me center and become personally grounded. God, my parents, my family, my husband, Karen Ross (the salon owner of where I became a hairdresser), every class I taught, every company I have been fortunate to work with, every country or state I traveled to and spoke in, every model I worked on, photo shoots, magazine covers I helped create, every soul that I have met, had a conversation with hugged, kissed, every mistake, and every lesson has played a key role in where I am at today and who I am as well. Without any of it, I wouldn’t have become true to who I am or have a purpose. I think to thrive in the curly world if you are born into it or you affiliate yourself with it because you simply are in love with it, you have to do it with purpose and intent.
Don’t do it for fame or for any feeling that will feel empty.
Make sure you are speaking from truth and from the heart. Stay completely focused and extremely present. Never settle for an environment that is less in value of the value you have for yourself. Stay open try all the products without prejudgment. Network; meet as many people as you can. Set goals and meet them. Write them down on post it notes and paste them where you can see them. Last but certainly not least Stay interested, it’s ok to be interesting that’s why people will gravitate towards you, but never make that the main purpose, the more interested you are the more you will evolve.
Keep up with me online
...on my website, curlpopnhair.com on where you can read blogs, trends, travels, behind the scenes, career and much more. Find me on Instagram @curlpop_n_hair. If you prefer a more intimate conversation, find me on Facebook @IsabellaVazquez, Snapchat @curlpop_n_hair, Pinterest @Curlpop_n_hair, Periscope: @Curlpop_n_hair, or you can simply message me on firstname.lastname@example.org.