Celebrity Hairstylist Jennifer Yepez Gets Candid On Her Career Journey
If you’ve ever gawked at the luscious locks of Emily Ratajkowski, Gigi Hadid, and Adriana Lima, then you’ve witnessed the remarkable work of celebrity hairstylist Jennifer Yepez. The hair guru, who is known for creating bold and dramatic styles, has contributed to coveted looks on and off the runway including Dolce & Gabbana and Céline. Being recently appointed as the new Kérastase Consulting Hair Stylist, Yepez has consistently proven that her innovation and talent no longer require her voice as her work speaks for itself. Yepez sat down with Haute Beauty to discuss the most challenging aspects of her career, the best advice on breaking into the hair industry, and the three products she can’t live without.
Describe the moment when you realized you had a knack for doing hair?
JY: I’ve loved hair since I had my first Barbie as a young girl. I always wanted her hair to be pretty and long, and I would never cut it. As I grew up I realized I was pretty good at hair, and at age 12 I started my own little braiding business in junior high. I would give all my friends braids for $30 each, which was a lot then and still. I would have a theme for the styles, like a zig zag or some kind of unique pattern (everyone’s would be different but had the same theme) so everyone would know they were my braids. My friends and I also used to iron our hair on the carpet floor with actual clothing irons, so by then, I knew it was my path. Growing up as a Latina also influenced my love for hair, since beauty is such a big part of our culture.
Who are some of the influential people in your life who have helped you on your hair journey?
JY: There are so many people to thank. The artists I assisted full-time were Guido Palau and Orlando Pita, and then Luigi Merenu. All my aesthetics originated from all of them. I am forever grateful for all they’ve taught me over those years. I have learned things can’t be taught through school and it’s nothing that money could buy. My mentors Yannick D’Is and Didier Malige have also always been so supportive throughout my journey, and the ultimate fashion legend, Odile Gilbert, has also been such an uplifting person for me. I am so grateful to have assisted her – she has made the pathway for women hairstylists. There are so many more too, and I really couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without them.
What’s been the most challenging aspect on your hair journey?
JY: The transition from salon to freelance has been the most challenging. I was broke fast, and for a long time. If you don’t have thick skin, you better be really hungry because it’s not glamorous until you actually make it. I lived in the south Bronx and saved every penny so I could pay rent. I was evicted from my apartment because I wasn’t paid from my bosses for months, and still had to show up for work. It’s a challenge, and if you want it, you have to work long hours and accept low pay starting out. If you really have the passion, dedication and talent you will make it. It was a long and tough journey but I am glad that it was. It’s made me the person I am today.
Describe your haircare routine?
JY: I really am so busy so I really wash my hair only once a week and rely so much on dry shampoo and leave-in conditioner. I love the Kérastase Crème Magistrale for my ends in between washes. When I do wash my hair, I use the Kérastase Résistance Bain Force Architecte for cleansing and Résistance Masque Force Architecte for intensive conditioning. I also will use the customizable at-home Kérastase Fusio-Dose Homelab treatment depending on my current haircare concern.
What’s your number one hair go-to advice?
JY: Always use an intensive treatment or mask once a week to keep you hair protected and hydrated. Never ask for a trim. Most people cut too short so I recommend just saying “dust the ends” if you want to keep you hair long.
Tell us about your Kérastase collaboration?
JY: Kérastase was one of the brands I used to sit backstage and dream about while I was starting out and assisting. It’s crazy to look back and see how it actually happened. Dreams come true. I was so happy too that Emily [Ratajkowski] is the ambassador because we work so closely. It is a perfect collaboration.
If you were on a deserted island, which three hair products would you bring?
JY: A shampoo, mask, and a dry shampoo.
What 2019 hair trends can you predict?
JY: I’m anticipating lots of color and more accessories. I still think wigs and hair pieces will be trending to achieve more dramatic looks.
What advice do you have to those looking to break into the hair industry?
JY: Work hard and expect nothing but to learn. Learn everything you possibly can and be hungry. Don’t expect that it’s glamorous and easy. Don’t be a one trick pony either. It’s also so important to know how to work with all hair types. And when you accept a job, you have to be ready to perform and only take it if you know what you’re doing. It’s not fair to the model or the team otherwise.
What can we expect from you in the future?
JY: I have an upcoming project I’m working on at the moment but can’t share any details yet! More to come in the future, but it’s going to be for every girl and guy and their wants and needs. I would love to teach more classes to show people what can’t be learnt at a hair school from my experience working around the world for those who may not be able to travel. It’s beautiful to share knowledge if you have a platform to do so, that’s how we all learn.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Yepez