Stephanie Hodges Wants Your Color to Look Expensive
Colorist Stephanie Hodges has built a massive following on Instagram. Here, she talks about why she carved out a shades-meets-braids niche, what you need to know to get expensive-looking color + how putting what you want out into the world can net you success.
Colorist Stephanie Hodges has built a massive following on Instagram not only creating awe-inspiring hair color creations, but also working intricate braids into her shaded styles. Her @stephhstyles feed focuses on smart color placement that makes every curve and swerve of her braids truly shine. Here, she talks about why she carved out a shades-meets-braids niche, what you need to know to get expensive-looking color and how putting what you want out into the world can net you success.
You bring together hair color and braiding on your Instagram feed. Why did you choose this combo?
SH: I was looking for a way on social channels for me to stand out. Not to knock myself, but I'm a little bit older than my peers, and I'm not super rock-and-roll. So I started thinking, "How am I going to stand out from these super cool, young, hip, incredible artists? What if I braid on top of the colors that I create? That's how I can stand out!” And that's the niche that I've created from that.
What are the secret ingredients to get perfect color placements so that you have complementary colors, perfect saturation and real dimension?
SH: First of all, you have to be flexible. You really do want to have the cleanest canvas that you can, but let's be honest: We all have hair color in our hair previously. At least 99% of us do; it's very rare that you get somebody that's never had any color in her hair. Being able to be flexible and knowing that you may not start with the perfect canvas allows for greater understanding. Also, you need to know color theory and how you can tone by crossing the color wheel. I'll tell you that doing vivids over the past year has made me a better colorist in the salon when I’m doing my brunettes, redheads and blondes because you do have to have such a strong understanding of color theory when it comes to vivid colors—and that carries over to the more natural hues.
How are you attracting clients who want to do such big experimentation?
SH: At the beginning, I did a lot of model calls and reached out and asked, "Who wants free hair for a while?" Then, as I positioned myself in the community and posted that work, people start coming to me seeking more experimental color. I'm just north of Los Angeles and we have lots of blondes and beachy, effortless looks. So, that's a lot of what I do. But, if you just put out into the world what you’re looking for, it usually works. I use the philosophy "If you build it, they will come" with a lot of things in my career.
What is your favorite color combination when it comes to vibrant shades?
SH: I love when something looks expensive; that's what really stops me in my tracks, whether it's a rainbow or balayage. I really do love a pastel shade: pastel rainbows, pastel pinks, pastel plums, rose, and peachy colors.
What does “looking expensive” mean to you?
SH: It means that the hair is healthy and is finished and cut beautifully, and the color isn’t spotty. With luxe hair, you can tell that the lift underneath has been clean. It's funny: On social, you can spot an edited picture fairly quickly nowadays, and you can also spot something that you can just see is exceptional. In those exceptional photos, you can tell that the client walked away looking exactly like that photo.
Is there a color that you feel like has been played out at all or needs to be kind of reinvented?
SH: I feel like we evolve every season with colors. Now that we're going into fall, I'm really excited to see bricks, mustards and jewel tones—perhaps adding in some richness and not being as neon-y.
Do you have any tricks for getting mileage out of a single client look for social media?
SH: Yes! Convertible looks. If I have time between clients now, I’ll say, "Let's take a blowout picture." I don't always have time to curl, but if I do, maybe we'll throw in some loose waves. And then from there, I go outside. I'm lucky that I get to work with an assistant. My assistant will have a little pin kit; we’ll style the client’s hair up and down, and I'll throw a little braid in. And maybe we also video it. So, now we have at least four pieces of content from one client appointment! I do always take pictures with multiple posts in mind.
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