Meet Chelsey Pickthorn: Color shaping and extensions specialist from Pickthorn Studio located in Brooklyn, NY. This year marked the 5th year her festival focusing on hair and music, WE COLOR LIVE, has taken place in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Chelsey Pickthorn describes WE COLOR LIVE as, “a project to elevate your experience as an artist. To support your methods of expression and collaboration. To inspire growth and development. We cultivate a community of loyalty and love.”
Learn more about Chelsey Pickthorn below. She talks tools she can’t live without, her ultimate hair icons, to tips on starting out in the industry, common hair concerns, and more.
When did you first know you wanted to become a hairstylist?
I first started messing around with hair at about eleven years old. I began cutting my friends hair and got super obsessed with MAC Makeup when I was twelve and in junior high. I just knew that I didn’t want to do the traditional thing - go to college and do what all my friends were doing - and so I actually enrolled in beauty school about 6 months after I graduated from high school and have been kinda going at it now for almost 16 years.
Having a great deal of experience as a hairstylist, what's the best advice you can give to someone starting out in this industry?
I think that with really anything, it takes time, personal investment, and hard work to accomplish anything. I think our culture has been conditioned these days to think everything is instant gratification, but building a clientele and making relationships with people takes time, so my biggest suggestion is just try to commit to something and invest in your growth and learning.
What is one item you couldn’t live without in your salon?
I definitely think that environment is a major aspect of anything we do in life - so creating a really good and comfortable space is super important to us. As for tools in my kit, I have a few paint brushes that I am pretty adamant about keeping the bristle very straight and clean, therefore I would say my paint brushes are a huge asset. We're only as good as our tools. I also can't live without my straight blade and I have a favorite really tight tension bone comb that I love as well.
After being in this industry for 16 years, what would you say keeps you motivated?
I love building relationships with my clients, so the things that I learn from them motivates me to grow and to better their experience. Overall, just being a great hairdresser motivates me; I think being able to offer quality services and keeping the hair as healthy as possible is important.
Describe the feeling you get knowing you have complete control over your clients new look.
Generally, I feel very excited, because it's a really cool thing to be a part of that transformation with my clients. Sometimes, of course, there are unpredictables with things that happen at home, like with box coloring so I get a little nervous always. Ideally, one of my main things is always being in control of the color so nothing goes unexpected. I just feel like a transformation really helps them embody a new perspective and a new part of themselves.
Which celebs are your ultimate hair icons?
These days I’ve been really into Mariah Carey back in the 90s. I think she has always just represented versatility with her curls, texture, and in color - she always plays around. Prince is always amazing. Gwen Stefani is a person who has really stayed on the same hair path for the most part her whole entire career and that’s always amazing to see.
Let's talk hair tips! Do you have any tips that could help other stylists, women and men looking to expand their hair styling skills?
I feel like investing in a good haircut is a great tip and secret. Getting a really good haircut that grows out well and wears well throughout the transition, is worth the investment and can change a lot of things.
Each month you style and color hundreds of clients hair, what is the most common hair concern they express?
A lot of times people have gone through many different stylists trying to achieve what their desired result is and most times their hair has been damaged or taken too far. The biggest concern for clients is just the integrity of the hair. I always reassure them that we're going to take the best care that we possibly can to achieve their goals. The majority of my hair color processes take an average of four hours and the reason for that is, because I do things slow and use less aggressive chemicals and so it's just really asking for that time investment to achieve a better quality of hair.
Since offering Prose to your clients, have you noticed changes in hair health?
I have a returning client that absolutely loved the product and has turned her daughter on to it. She is a very fine haired client who swears by Prose and said it was the best shampoo she’s had ever. She’s a client that generally can't use hair color chemicals on her hair and we actually just did use some chemicals on her, because her daughter is getting married and I noticed that her hair was really shiny and soft.
Are you often asked to recommend a hair care regimen to your clients?
For sure, my clients are always asking and are very interested, especially when they make chemical changes and when they’re shifting things. So yes, they often ask what products are best to use and it's a constant conversation for sure.
As seasons change, do you notice a difference in your client’s hair?
Absolutely, the humidity takes effect which makes a huge difference. Water! People who have just recently moved to New York come in and express noticing the difference the water change makes on their hair. Pollution in New York, especially, takes a toll on hair as well as activities in the sun do.
You're living your dream! What do you love most about being a hairstylist?
I love that every day is a different day. New projects. New people. New experiences. I love just getting to know people and learning about their existence in life and growing together.