When I moved to Austin almost two years ago, it took me a while to find a natural hair stylist that I could trust to care for my curly hair. Through many recommendations and the law of attraction, I connected with Kenya Kirk, the owner of Kenya Rynea Salon, who strives to educate her diverse clientele on the importance of #hairgoals. I remember the first time I walked into her salon, she asked me, “What is your daily hair routine?” I immediately got nervous and gave a blank stare because a stylist had never asked me that before. Honestly, I was never educated on how to maintain my natural hair and didn’t have a hair regimen. Being of mixed heritage, my mom wasn’t aware of how to care for my naturally curly hair and was advised to perm my hair at the tender age of three years-old. It wasn’t until in my early 20’s that I started rockin’ my natural hair, free of chemicals and extensions.
When I found out that Kenya does not only educate her clients on ways to maintain their natural hair, but she also created a program called Mommy & Me, for mothers to provide a solution to care for their daughter's hair, even if they have a different hair texture. I knew there was a reason we got connected and this was simply confirmation, I couldn't wait to learn more!
Share your background and how you got to Austin. . .
“I am originally from Upstate New York. My mother moved my sister and I to Austin, Texas in the early 90’s. After I graduated high school I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to college to be a scientist in the marine biology field or not. Before I made my decision, I went to Georgia and visited my cousin, who was a salon owner and hair stylist.”
What inspired you to become a hair stylist?
“I’ve done hair in high school here and there for friends and teammates, but it wasn’t until one afternoon I was at my cousin's house in Georgia. I was flipping through a hair magazine and an image grabbed my attention, so I decided to recreate it on her mannequin. Afterwards, my cousin told me I was very good for someone who just looked at a picture. It was then, that I was encouraged to sign-up for beauty school and felt this was the perfect path for me.”
What is unique about Kenya Rynea Salon?
“Kenya Rynea Salon enjoys providing clients with an innovative and educational experience to ensure clients with a unique hair regimen that works for their hair texture. We make it a point to talk about goals, the commitment and consistency required to meet their goals. A client's smile and happiness is the best advertisement.”
How important is it that you educate your clients ?
“Education is essential for me to provide the best services, techniques and products to my clients. I carry various products curated around my clientele to educate my clients on maintaining a healthy hair regimen and ways to style their hair. I don't just 'sell' products, I educate them on how to effectively use the products to work for them and their lifestyle.”
What inspired you to create the program, Mommy & Me?
"As a stylist, I hear stories all the time from my clients about their hair experiences and how they struggle with their natural hair. From finding the right products to knowing how to maintain a healthy hair regimen, clients were in need of solutions. It was also becoming more apparent how mothers felt that styling their daughter’s hair was a hassle and would take hours because they were unaware how to style their hair. So, I wanted to provide a stress-free solution. Mommy & Me is a program to educate mothers how to successfully care and style for their daughter's hair and learn basic styling terminology on how to communicate with their hairstylist, if they have to take their child to a stylist."
What do you see as the major challenges Mom's experience with daughters who have textured hair, how does Mommy & Me provide a solution?
"The major challenges mothers experience is the long styling time, finding products that work and understanding the versatility of their daughter's hair texture. Our Mommy & Me program provides a step-by-step hair regimen from beginning to the end of how to properly wash their hair, and recommends products to use, depending on the density and porosity of the hair. We even talk about tools to use for all versatilities of weather and easy hairstyles."
Now that I'm older, I look back and wish my mother would have been educated on how to care for my curly hair rather than perming it at such an early age. Ironically, I learned that my mother's hair was extremely thick and tough to manage as a young girl, so her mother permed her hair as well. This goes to show the importance of education and how it effects us young girls, who grow up as women who yearn for that sense of identity. Let's continue to educate and empower our daughters to rock their natural crown and love their beautiful coils, curls and kinks.