Vonda Kennedy-Young is more than a celebrity hair stylist. She is an international educator who aims to equip women to take better care of their hair through knowledge and self-awareness. As a hair care professional for 18 years, Vonda has traveled the world and worked with various celebrities and companies such as L’Oréal and Mizani, becoming the “go-to” stylist for education and setting trends. (L’Oréal owns Mizani and Soft Sheen, Mizani is the professional brand and Soft Sheen is the OTC brand of the same company.) CEOMOM caught up with Vonda to discuss her diverse career and the importance of being an educated consumer.
Tell us about yourself? What is the name of your salon?
I am the manager for Crown Salons which is located in Sugarland, Texas. On March 29 I will have been in the hair care industry for 18 years. My career started in accounting where I worked as a payroll coordinator. After working in accounting for 6 years I knew I wasn’t fulfilling my dreams and I wasn’t happy. I started thinking about what I wanted to do. I always loved doing hair. I would cut my cousin’s hair when I was younger. After deciding to make the career shift, I started going to Franklin Beauty College in Houston, Texas to become a cosmetologist, and later attended Vidal Sassoon (Santa Monica) for more extensive training. Right out of school, I decided I never wanted to stand behind the chair. I worked on movie sets and participated in national hair competitions. I have competed on the highest level of competition at shows like The Bronner Brothers International Mid-Winter Beauty Show stylist competition. Being trained under Mr. Gentry, I ended up winning the championship title. Now my goal is to educate the consumer, raising awareness about hair care.
How did you get started as a celebrity hair stylist?
I began to work with companies such as L’Oréal. I worked for companies that were sponsoring certain shows and different artists. I had the opportunity to put my face and name out there and showcase my talents on an international level.
What is your signature service and what separates you from other hair stylists?
My signature service, according to me, is taking care of natural curly hair and making it move and stay straight longer. If it gets a drop of water it shouldn’t go back to its natural state. When you shampoo your hair again, you can get your curl pattern back. What sets me apart from other stylists is my scientific knowledge of hair. I am more of an educated stylist. I don’t just do what I see being done.
Who are some of the celebrities you’ve worked with?
I’ve worked with Ashanti, Chrisette Michele, Fantasia, Kerry Washington, Jennifer Williams of Basketball Wives, actress Sanaa Lathan and Valerie Warner from WGN TV.
What advice do you have for a hairstylist who wants to expand her clientele to include celebrities?
Set yourself apart from the next stylist. Be knowledgeable and be professional.
Tell us about your experience with “A Day of Beauty” to support Hurricane Harvey teachers and victims. How did you get connected with the event? What was it like to participate in such an important event?
I looked around and saw so many of my clients and friends were affected by the hurricane and they were getting ready to go back to work and school. After losing so much, they no longer had the finances to be able to get their hair done. I began with my clients by telling them not to worry about paying for their hair services. The owner of Crown Salons, Kristen LaFell and I decided to do something to impact Houston. We decided to provide complimentary hair services and have estheticians come to the salon to do facials. Houston had been through so much and they needed time to feel better than the way they were feeling. Our complimentary beauty services at the salon turned into a day of beauty. It was really touching. We had a great turnout, serving 75 to 100 women. We offered facials and hair and makeup services to help teachers get ready to return to school, as well as other victims.
Tell us about your family. How do you maintain balance with not only managing your business and household, but your self-care?
That’s something that I think I have mastered. My oldest child is 26 and my youngest is 20. There are so many life changes with them that they do still need me. I am off
What can we expect from the Vonda Kennedy-Young brand in 2018?
I plan to equip the consumer with more information and know-how on interviewing stylists so they can feel better about selecting a hair care provider. Women are losing their understanding of hair and what it needs to do because of lack of knowledge. Consumers should ask questions like, “What are your beliefs regarding chemicals? How do you feel about heat? What products do you use for various hair types? You may want Beyoncé blonde and a relaxer, but will that work?” I want consumers to be more informed about hair to make their own decisions.