All photos by Patty Michels
This is just a partial list of items I cannot abide. Why? Two words: Curly Hair.
Straight haired people don’t understand. They drive around in their convertibles, all carefree wearing knit hats through mist and wind and rain all the way to their old auntie’s cottage where they swim and she playfully tousles their hair.
At least that’s what curly haired people imagine. Meanwhile we’re wrapping silk scarves around our heads and ducking into doorways, trying to make it half a block without our curls: straitening/frizzing/poufing/insert your own screwed up curl activity.
And haircuts? I’ve been through breakups less traumatizing.
Once I asked for an inch off and ended up with my entire neck bare. “Are you kidding me? Curly hair shrinks, it shrinks,” I screamed (in my head.) “The back of my neck is private! Private do you hear me?”
Friends and family knew to avoid me after a haircut. Sometimes for months.
But that all changed when I met Rochelle Binik. Creative Director, stylist and colorist for Noel Rose Hair Studio, Rochelle is a thirty year veteran of the beauty industry but more important, she specializes in curly hair.
Our Town Why is it so hard for a curly haired person to get a good haircut?
Rochelle Binik Cutting curly hair is an art in understanding movement and texture. You need to really look at the different shapes and nuances of each persons curls. It takes a lot of practice and experimenting to get things right.
OT You’ve spent years honing your curly hair cutting techniques, can you reveal any secrets?
RB Being a great listener with a passion for curly hair is my secret weapon. Having curly hair myself I understand the unique challenges we face, whether it be products or climate. Each client gets an in-depth consultation to find out what their experience has been. I gather as much information,--good and bad--from the clients so I can achieve a great result they can reproduce daily.
OT In order to come away satisfied, what should a customer do to prepare for a haircut appointment?
RB Do your homework: find someone who is a certified curly hair specialist. Leave your fears at the door and come with an open heart. Bring in pictures of what looks great to you. You may have had a shape that you liked in the past that can help me know what works for you.
OT You say weather affects curly hair. More than straight hair? Why? What can one do to combat adverse conditions?
RB Curls tend to explode with humidity leaving them undefined. In humidity and rain go with a strong hold gel alone, or mixed with a curl or straightening creme, [the latter] can add weight and definition while controlling the frizz. Winter is easier; cremes and silicone products can do the trick, mousse is great also as long as it is creamy; sticky anything does not work for most curly heads. Leave in conditioner is always a great base.
OT Can you share a particularly satisfying hair cutting experience?
RB I was consulting with a girl of about 14. She didn't look in the mirror much and seemed indifferent to her appearance. After a long chat, she agreed to let me do my thing. I didn't go crazy, I just put in a really cool shape I have been developing for the better part of the year. Her face lit up when we were done. She told me she was going to to put her new hair on her Facebook page. That was big for me. I love to get young, curly heads who don't think they can feel pretty and turn that belief upside down.
OT You’re bold about getting new clients, any funny stories?
RB On the El one morning, I approached a woman with beautiful long red curls. I asked her if she loved her hairdresser and she said "I wanted to come over and talk to you about your hair, but I didn't want to lose my seat." I have been doing her hair for almost a year now. Sometimes when I approach people with beautiful curly hair, I start off asking if they are in love with their hairdresser and if they hesitate I add "or could you fall in love with me?" That usually gets a smile. I tend to keep clients for a long time and want to make sure I can have fun with them.
Mention this interview and receive 20% off of your hair cut with Rochelle.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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