{ #WCW }: McKenzie Cusick sharing her secrets on following passion & turning it to a business + her secret pro hair care tips!

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Happy Wednesday!

Boy oh boy am I excited for today’s #WCW

I have a very, very special lady here on the blog today! In fact, I mentioned her HERE – she is the one I have to thank for the magic beauty spells she puts on my hair.

McKenzie Cusick is truly a delight and someone I really admire. She is one of the most talented hair stylists I know & every time she works her magic on me, it’s so obvious how passionate & talented she is at her craft.

I first met her at Head Spa here in San Francisco while I was in search of a go-to hair salon. I was traumatized by a TERRIBLE experience here in San Francisco, and I take my hair care VERY seriously.

Not only did she alleviate all those fears, but I was able to make a new friend along the way who was insanely passionate about what she’s doing. My kinda girl.

One thing I LOVE about her story is that she really hustled to make her dreams come true. From falling in love with California from Kansas, she put in the work to make her passion a reality. Today, she manages multiple salons in San Francisco & recently launched her sexy new website, where she will blog all things beauty.

Until then, I was able to get her to spill some secrets, share major insider hair care tips, and learn how she turned her passion into her business with you guys. Pretty much, I am picking up every single product she mentions below!

Also, on a personal note, one thing I truly  love about these #WCW interviews is how inspired, motivated, & empowered they make me feel. McKenzie’s voice & light truly shines and it’s radiant and empowering. I know you will LOVE!

PS – if you are located in the Bay Area, TRUST ME, Head Spa is easily the best salon in the city (INSANE blow outs, perfect cuts, & reasonable prices). Trust me, you are in good hands.

Without further ado, meet McKenzie!

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⚜ Introduce yourself & Tell me about your journey into the beauty industry.

I have always LOVED beauty. I grew up in a very, very small town in Kansas on a farm so I wasn’t exposed to whole lot growing up. I took it into my own hands!

I was always that person who was doing everyones hair and makeup for special events at school and church. I knew from around middle school on I wanted to be a cosmetologist. Finally in 2010 I decided to pursue my dream, I enrolled at Paul Mitchell the School in Wichita Ks where I graduated at the top of my class. After graduation I hit the ground running and started working behind the chair with a full clientele at a 5 star salon.

After two years behind the chair I decided to pursue my passion in instructing. I received an Instructor of Cosmetology License where I provide continuing education in Paul Mitchell and Vidal Sassoon systems.

My latest adventure led me to San Francisco, CA! I currently manage two salons in the heart of San Francisco while performing cuts, colors and styling techniques on my clients.

I continue educating others, practicing my craft and making a name for myself in this city by the bay! What can I say, I want to know and try everything in this amazing and exciting industry!

⚜ You also launched your new website, congrats!!! How did your love for beauty evolve into a personal brand?

Thank you!  I am super happy about the outcome and have gotten wonderful feedback and activity from it just in the first week!

I waited awhile to really start putting my work out there… which is crazy to think. Our generation pretty much lives on social media so I thought I’d give it a go around.

I AM SO HAPPY I DID!

My personal brand really shows off my craft and what I really love doing. Shows off styles, colors, cuts and techniques that I excel in. Its extremely exciting for me to do what I love and have it out there for everyone to see. When they see my work and clients, they are a reflection of me.

⚜ Tell me about balancing a full time job & managing your own company on the side:

Managing 2 hair salons is not the easiest job in the world but I truly love my staff of stylists and the clients that we have. They are my family here in the city!

To be honest it was a rough start when I started this managing journey paired with being behind the chair. I had a hard time balancing the two at first and didn’t know where to aim my focus. After the first 6 months I had an “Ah Ha” moment where I realized that nothing is ever perfectly balanced. Some days I have a lot of things to handle management wise and others I am booked solid with clients. Some days both are in full blown mode and I’ve gotta stay calm and just handle it. Sounds silly but its true.

I was always worried thinking well today I only gave 25% of management and 75% to my clients or vice versa. The second didn’t overthink or overwhelm myself was the moment everything clicked and started to smooth out.

Now, I love having both of these as apart of my everyday job. Motivating and educating my staff to be the best out there and being able to see my wonderful clients everyday is a big win for me!

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⚜ What are your short-term and long-term goals?

Short term work goals:

I am determined to open a third location of Head Spa here in the city! Currently I am working on photo shoots with my boyfriend whose a photographer to get my portfolio more full. Lastly to get my blog started on hair  and makeup tips for all genders and ages!

Personal short term goals:

Finish learning acoustic guitar and be able to play a song by December!

Long Term work goals:

I actually would love at some point to learn the tech side of our industry whether it be a booking app or something in sales online. I’d like to stay ahead of the curve for the future! I, of course will one day have my own salon. Ideally it would be in a Hostel in another country. My biggest goal is to go abroad and open a hostel with all the bells and whistles… my salon/clothing store being one!

Long term personal goals:

I would definitely like to spend 6 months traveling the world. Hike a mountain and swim with sea otters!

⚜ Favourite books?

I have a top 2 that are my all time favorites! One is Classy by Derek BlasbergDefinitely a goofy and eye opening read for women our age, whats acceptable and whats not in todays world.

The other is Be Nice or Else by Winn Claybough. I had to read this when I began in cosmetology school and developed the Be Nice culture immediately. I use that as my management style and day to day lifestyle to this day!

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⚜ Biggest Beauty Secret? Spill!

Without a doubt… USE SUNSCREEN AND MOISTURIZER EVERYDAY. Even if you will not be in the sun. I spent my teens and early twenties in tanning beds and not using sunscreen and I can definitely tell. Get a moisturizer with SPF in it to kill 2 birds with one stone!

I love the brand naturopathica. It is extremely natural with a fresh and clean scent. They have small kits full of cleansers, moisturizer, sunscreen, masks and even a mist to help balance out oily/dry skin through the day (personal favorite because you can mist it over your makeup without any residue!) – shop them on Amazon here!

⚜ Best hair care tips on the planet… SPILL!

I will spill a few of my favorites to you guys… GET READY!

HAIR GROWTH:

When you wash your hair in the shower… give yourself a head massage. Doesn’t have to be long …1-3 minutes is great! This doesn’t mean scratch your scalp with your nails! Instead use the tips of your fingers to massage the scalp all over. What this does is stimulate blow flow and create circulation. For those of you who have hair that takes FOREVER to grow… this will help you tremendously! Any sort of manipulation on the scalp will increase blood flow and jump start hair growth. This also helps relieve stress and headaches before they even happen.  Side note: If you massage your head and it feels extremely tight, drink more water… you’re dehydrated.

DETANGLING:

Invest in a WET BRUSH! This is truly a life saver. I can use it on every single hair style with any kind of texture. You can purchase them at Walgreens for $6. After you get out of the shower or post shampoo/condition use this to brush your hair. The small bendable bristles make it easy and not painful at all to get those knots out!

PRODUCT:

After you massage and detangle before you style your hair apply a THERMAL PROTECTANT! Whether you are blow drying, smoothing, curling your hair or even just throwing it up in a bun… put some in. You don’t need a lot depending on the brand (I use Kerastase Ciment Thermique, I am addicted to the light weightiness and scent!) If you use a cream use around a dime-quarter size, if it is a spray use 3-5 spritz. You want to focus from the mid shaft to the ends of your hair. Try to avoid the scalp area as much as possible unless you are working with an extremely light weight product because it will weigh you down and can make the hair appear greasy. Thermal protectant will SAVE your hair. They protect up to 89% against any heat and they are great source of moisture as a leave in conditioner to balance out the ph level of the hair.

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⚜ Let’s talk diet + hair care. What are some of the best supplements or things to eat to take for healthy hair?

Best supplements are biotin, hair skin and nails, fish oil and apple cider vinegar …. all can be found at Walgreens or CVS.

If you, like me do not or are not good at taking supplements (I forget all the time) you want to focus on eating foods that are high in:

– Biotin: eggs, salmon, avocados and peanuts are all great sources!
– Vitamin C: great to help/prevent with dry, splitting ends… Bell peppers are also a great go to!
– Zinc: Major for hair growth so this group is full of oysters, crab, fat free yogurt, cheese and lean beef.
Vitamin A: bomb to help fight against dry skin/flakes and especially dandruff on the scalp. Sweet potatoes and butternut squash are great and delicious choices! (be sure to find a balance with Vitamin A, too much of this can lead to hair loss!)

⚜ What is the one thing you see people do with their hair that makes you cringe and a solution?

Definitely when I see people picking at their split ends. It drives me bonkers! They are only making it worse! They may have thought they got rid of the one they just pulled but really they just split higher up the hair strand MORE  and created breakage in the hair strand.

Instead of picking and pulling invest in a light weight serum or oil to put on your ends when you notice them to fray a little. Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Oil is a great go to! When they are fraying and splitting more than 3/4 of an inch or more, its time for a haircut!

⚜ Most underrated hair care tip??

Thats a tough one! I feel like so many are underrated these days… I will have to go with a good Sea Salt Spray. Beach waves and natural looks are all the rage this year when it comes to the trends. With this product you can bring out your natural hair and get away from using so many hot tools and give your hair a break.

I LOVE Kerastase Spray a Porter! Once I get out of the shower at night I pair it with my thermal protectant and wet brush. I use a spritz in each quadrant of my head (4) and then do a minor “scrunch” and then go to sleep. When I wake up, I have glorious natural wavy hair! { <<< buying this ASAP! }

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⚜ What are some of your favourite hair & beauty products and why?

Oh man, I have so many after being in the industry for so long but here are a few of my immediate go to’s:
++ I love Extra Body hair spray by Paul MitchellI tease my hair to give it a little volume when I have a special event and this makes it stay ALL NIGHT LONG!
++ Lanza Purple Shampoo is wonderful when it comes to keeping unwanted brassy and gold tones out. Its potent so it lasts forever since you don’t need a ton!
++ Kerastase Powder Bluff (dry shampoo) is amazing because unlike most dry shampoos the one does not have a film on it. The film is clear! This is great because you don’t have a bunch of white residue on your scalp after applying.

⚜ What should every girl have in her beauty cabinet / shower?

Definitely a masque to do once or twice a week! There are so many brands to choose from when it comes to this.

Take a look/feel at your hair and see what it looks like (ex. is it dry, limp, frizzy). Next find a product line that suits your lifestyle and values (ex. price, ingredients, how and what they test on, etc.) Then choose what your hair needs (ex. If its dry it needs moisture. If its limp it needs protein.)

Always try to have a perfect balance of moisture and protein, that is what gives us healthy hair! {<<< Shannon here & this is my favourite hair mask, I am obsessed ever since my Dallas days! } 

⚜ What are some of the challenges in beauty and how you handle them?

I would have to say when people constantly complain about their hair at home but they refuse to change their habits.

I had a client when I first started out in beauty school and she LOVED her hair when she would come to my school to get it done but hated it a week later. She would use $3 shampoo and conditioner, rip through her hair with a fine tooth comb and would blast dry it without any product. Of course the result being color fading, split ends and all sorts of frizz and dryness throughout her head of hair.

I used to get frustrated because I just wanted her to listen to me. I kept on educating her on at home care for her hair to last longer. I’d write out what to do, how to use it and when. Finally, one day she bought a product. Then progressively she trusted me and my advice and by the end of the year the complaining and hot mess at home hair was no longer!

I realized sometimes it takes a little time for people to trust and understand the how’s and why’s of their hair. To this day I still have some of those clients and I still use my same tactic of constant educating, reminding and being very real with them when they are in my chair!

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⚜ Looking back, if you could do anything differently in building your brand, what would it be?

I am working on so much right now that its so exciting and motivating… it makes me wish I would’ve started a long time ago. BUT I have started now and am excited to see what the future holds!

⚜ Currently, what is your favourite social media outlet & why? Any social media advice?

Favorite social media is 100% instagram. I love being able to show my work in photos and be able to get inspo from other stylists!

The advice I have is build up content so you aren’t stressing about not having anything to post. And POST POST POST, let your personality come through in your captions! { <<< yes to this! be authentically YOU! }

⚜ What is next for you?

Good question! For the rest of this year I am going to continue working on my brand, start my blog and working behind the chair focusing on new techniques.

I would like to become extremely well known here in the city as a colorist! I am huge on setting goals so next year is full of them… stay tuned. 🙂

⚜ Who are some of your favourite bloggers / influencers to follow?

Well, of course Champagne at Shannon’s! I love all the cooking advice! {<<< thanks babe!! xx}

I also love Pucker and Pout by Katie Maloney, she does some interesting and fun stuff with beauty on her blog.

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⚜ How do you see social media & business evolving and how do you plan to evolve with it?

Social media in the beauty industry is huge.

We are a visual industry so this is KEY for us.

I plan on learning more about beauty apps, what they all have to offer and why people like/use them. Narrow down which ones I enjoy the most and run with them!

⚜ What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I’ll never forget it. One of my elderly clients, Betty back in Kansas once told me during a hard time that:

“Sweetie, people and experiences happen for a reason, a season or a lifetime… its up to you to decide which one is which.”

Ever since then I keep that frame of mind. So incredibly grateful for each of those categories, people, places and experiences I’ve encountered thus far. Change is inevitable and AMAZING!

⚜ Finally, advice for others who are looking to follow their dreams, but not sure how?

Just do it. SERIOUSLY GO! If you would’ve told me 8 years ago living on my farm, even 3 years ago living in Wichita I’d be where I am doing what I love… I wouldn’t of believed you. I actually would’ve probably laughed in your face!

One day I woke up, traveled to California, loved it, made a goal to move, worked long days to save, sold everything except my 4 suitcases and 6 months later, I was a San Francisco resident. If you want it, you’ll go after it.

You’ve got to step out of your comfort zone for new and great things to happen… and my friends, they will. {<<< she really nailed it with this answer }

⚜ and of course… favourite song??

I am a huge K. Flay fan, she is such a badass. Her song Can’t Sleep is on repeat after a year!


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Follow McKenzie:
Instagram || Website || #hairbymckenzieq

 

Shop McKenzie & my favourite hair picks!:

  • Comments ( 8 )

  • This is such a fun interview, and she has the BEST hair!!

    • So glad you enjoyed it, Lyndsay! She was such a delight & a master of her craft. Do you have any must-share hair care or social media tips? tell tell!! xx Shannon

  • The Southern Edge

    Wow this is such an amazing post!! Very interesting read!

    Best,
    Madison
    http://www.madisononmadisonave.com

    • Thanks, Madison! So glad you liked it! She has so many good tips! xx Shannon

  • Lauren Ruehl

    Love all of her insight on juggling multiple ventures at once. What an inspiring journey and interesting read!

    • Thanks babe! I totally agree! As someone who is constantly juggling things, it makes it super inspiring. I guess the moral of the story is never stop hustlin! 😉 xx Shannon

  • What a great interview! I need to try her favorite product Kerastase Spray a Porter!

    • SAME HERE! I actually make my own salt sprays but she totally sold me on this one! If you get it, lmk what you think! xx Shannon

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