Queen of Color Transformation and the Rainbow Afro, Words with Leysa Carrillo

Leysa Carrillo is a incredibly talented Cuban-American hairstylist whose work has really caught my attention this year. She works at Atelier by Square Salon in Las Vegas, where she weaves her magic with natural curls and rainbow colors into the most beauteous hair transformations. 

I found her on Instagram, and have been following her ever since, excitedly watching her crank out incredible work. Then, at the BTC One Shot Hair Awards in Austin last month, I happily watched her win an award in her category alongside Chita Beseau, another incredible hair artist for Collab of the Year. I reached out soon after to see if she would let me feature her here on HTHG, and she agreed. Thanks Leysa for sharing words with us!

Where are you originally from? where do you live now?

I’m originally from Varadero a little Beach town in Cuba. I live in Las Vegas now.

Why did you leave and how did you end up where you are now? 

I was a part of a show called “Havana Night” and we used to travel all around the world.  Siegfried and Roy discovered our show back in Cuba and fell in love with it so they offered us a contract here in Las Vegas at an old hotel and casino called the Stardust. The Cuban government gave us an ultimatum and said we could no longer perform and go back-and-forth between the US and Cuba…….There were a lot of political things going on between the countries so we decided to come to the United States as political asylum’s.

How has the journey of moving to this country as a very young person shaped you?

It was very hard at first.. I came without knowing when I was gonna see my family again, new culture, no knowing English but now I feel like I’m living the American dream. Somebody. pinch me. I’m grateful.

What ideas/wisdom/beliefs around hair were you raised with?

I wasn’t really raised with any believes around hair/beauty.

I think the fact my mom never knew how to deal with my Afro made me have to get really good at hair at the early age!

How did you find your interest in hair, and when did you start dabbling in hairstyling?

My show ended and I didn’t want to continue traveling and going to different auditions, so I was looking at what was available for me knowing that my English wasn’t the best and having had no college experience, I went to school for interior design and then Beauty School.

What is it about working with hair that inspires you the most?

I’m so inspired to create! I love everything about textured hair, colorful hair, anything having to do with fashion!! Seeing people’s faces at the end of any services…

What is your favorite kind of hair to work with? why?

My favorite kind of hair to work with is definitely textured hair. I love everything about the curl of hair and curl pattern specifically because I can relate to it, I feel like a lot of people need help with it because they don’t understand it.

What tips/tricks/ products do you swear by?

My best tip that I can give is definitely a good diet and drinking lots of water.

What is your own hair care ritual like? 

I wash my hair once a week, I use a mask as my conditioner. I use a lot of product in my hair and I love to enhance my natural curl I don’t use any heat with my hair.

Have you always worn your hair natural? If not, tell us about your natural hair journey……

I have always worn my hair natural. Of course I have straightened it as a girl a few times,  but 90% of the time my hair is natural and it always has been. I was too poor to afford wigs and stuff as a kid!

Tell us something that we may not know about what it is like to have such dynamic and beautiful hair with such deep history and roots?

I brush my hair just with my hair mask in it.

I think when people see my hair first they always think it’s complicated or difficult but when you get to know it and understand it, and when you truly love curly hair it’s one of the easiest to work with.

what do you love most about your hair?

I love my routine. It is super simple and I wear it natural and what can be better than bracing your natural hair?

If your hair had a spirit animal what would it be?

A Lion, of course

What would you tell a woman who just came to this country and wants to work with hair?

Go to school, don’t stop learning, continue your education even after school. Don’t give up. Anything is possible.

What could this industry do a better job of?

I would say that the industry can do a much better job of uniting all of us. I think in the past couple years social media has started to make that happen but I would like to see more of it.

Tell us a little bit about the salon you work in, and what a day behind the chair is like.

My salon is very innovative and  very modern. We are always keeping up with the new trends, continuing all of our education taking lots of classes with stylists and educators coming through here to keep us all updated. We are like a big family, always helping each other and also we take care of the community. I do find myself always busy no matter what..For some reason, I can’t figure out why I never go home when the sun is still out. I do a lot of transformations, so my days are usually filled with multiple sessions of each appointment so I stay very very busy.

Leysa, thank you for sharing a little look inside your hair life! We love your work, and can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

Be sure to check out more of Leysa’s magical hair creations on Instagram!

 

xo, RJH

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