Career Diaries: How Alex Brown Went From a Small Town Girl to a Celebrity HairstylistFebruary 26, 2020
Alex Brown first discovered her passion for styling hair as a teen in her small hometown in Minnesota where she worked the local prom and senior picture circuit. Since then, she’s come a long way. Brown honed her craft in Los Angeles as the right-hand of celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin and has worked with some of the most well-known names of the moment — Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid and Chrissy Teigen are just a few. Now, she has her own hair studio in Chicago. Here, she dishes about the biggest “pinch-me” moments of her career, her 2020 hair trend predictions and more.
Can you tell us a little bit about your career path and how you got your start in the beauty industry?
My sister’s BFF went to beauty school when I was in 7th grade. I was her guinea pig for all of her testing in hair cutting and color. I became obsessed and always wanted to be at the salon! I had birthday parties there and would go as often as I could. I knew it was something I really loved and began doing hair and makeup for high school proms, senior photos and anything else I could get my hands on.
A month after graduating high school, I knew I wanted to move to a bigger city and pursue my hair career. My sister and I moved to Chicago where I attended beauty school for nine months and then went on to work at a high-end salon for six years. For three years I assisted and trained at that salon under very successful hairstylists. After I graduated from the training program, I worked as a stylist for the next three years. Although I was busy, the money was great and I had grown quite a clientele, I was craving more.
It was always a dream of mine to move to LA and get into celebrity hair. I decided to make the move in 2015 and ended up with my dream job of assisting celeb hairstylist Jen Atkin after only a week of living there. It was so surreal. I assisted her for nearly three years and learned more than I ever thought possible. Being an assistant to different stylists for roughly six years gave me the experience and tools I needed to grow and become a successful business owner and hairstylist on my own.
What does a day in your life look like now?
After assisting Jen, I made the tough decision to move back to Chicago. I ultimately decided LA wasn’t where I saw myself long-term. Chicago felt more like home to me — where I could build my own business and possibly have a family of my own someday with a more comfortable, structured lifestyle. I now own a hair studio in Chicago where I take my clients. I have two assistants who work for me and learn from me. I have the freedom to make my own hours and travel for other jobs throughout the year as well.
Biggest pinch-me moment in your career?
There are so many — I can’t choose just one! From attending Paris Fashion Week to royal weddings in the Middle East and doing hair for the Grammys and Oscars, I feel like I have truly been blessed and am so grateful for the opportunities Jen has given me. These experiences have taught me so much about myself and life in general. It is truly amazing what happens when you put yourself out there and really go after your dreams.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Making people happy! I’ve always been such a people pleaser and love making people feel great about themselves. I find so much pleasure in inviting them into my studio, which is intimate and personable, and talking to them about things going on in their life whether it’s good or bad. It’s amazing to know that I am sometimes the best part of their day! Who doesn’t love getting their hair done?
What's one hair trend you can't get enough of right now?
I’ve become obsessed with this effortless, lived-in hair trend. It’s everything from sun-kissed, natural-looking color with a root to natural textures that look as if the person just rolled out of bed. I live for natural ’70s-inspired hair.
Do you have any hair trend predictions for 2020?
I think shorter strands are here to stay. Women these days with careers, kids and busy lifestyles are finding it so chic and easy to maintain a bob or long bob from day to day.
Biggest hair tip of all time?
Stick to what your hair naturally wants to do. Learn how to work with your natural texture and don’t stray too far from your natural color.
If you weren’t a hairstylist, what would your job be?
An interior designer. I love creating a space with a specific mood.
Do you have any advice for aspiring industry professionals?
Don't get too comfortable or stagnant in your career. If you’re feeling repetitive or are no longer inspired, I beg you to go out there and find what will make you passionate again about the things you love. We only live once and have the freedom to make this life exactly what we want it to be. If it feels scary or risky, I promise that’s the first feeling before true greatness. Work hard and be nice to people always.
Read More:5 Celebrity Hair Accessory Looks to Recreate This Weekend