Johnny Wright styles radio personality Shirley Strawberry of The Steve Harvey Morning Show.
ists face. I know it is certainly more acceptable now that it used to be, but are there still some challenges there? I don’t know if it’s necessarily true that the hair care industry is a female dominated industry. When it comes down to the industry it actually favors the men, so there aren’t really challenges in that respect, but the challenges that I was speaking of was just as a young kid who normally people don’t find doing hair that young, but a young kid dealing with a profession that appears very feminine. And I’m pretty sure some people deal with that, but there are some straight men that do hair and I’m pretty sure they deal with people questioning their sexuality. So that could be a challenge, but at the end of the day you are who you are and you don’t have to prove yourself to anybody and your talent should speak for itself and not your sexuality. Did you continue to work in your parents’ basement after graduating from high school? Well when I was in High School in order for me to get work study I had to have a place to work and it couldn’t be my parents’ basement. So I met these stylists, Monica and Ivy, and they worked at this salon called Mellow Swing. It was on 95th in the Evergreen area and I would go there a couple times out of the week to assist even though I had my own clientele I had to do that for workstudy. But I really enjoyed working there, and I met Ivan. He is Kanye West’s and Wiz Khalifah’s barber and he used to cut my hair of course until Kanye took him away. And then working with Monica and Ivey was amazing because they were so talented. I learned how to do some more cutting and stuff with them and up dos, and one day I remember… because they didn’t really know how talented I was because I just came in and assisted them. And one day my mom came to pick me up from work and I had did her hair in like this pin-curl ponytail; I was doing up dos a lot back then, and I had her come in and they were drooling over her hair! They were like OMG I didn’t know you could do this, so they begin to utilize me in more ways than one in the salon. But I was just there maybe like on weekends on Fridays and Saturdays. But I worked in my parents’ basement until I was like 21, then I went to hair school. And after I got my license I started working full time. When did you open up your first salon besides the one you had in your parents’ home? I never opened up my own shop, not a standing shop. The business that I opened up which is still pretty relevant today is a travelling salon. It’s called Me to You Salon and Spa. I opened it in Chicago. I remember prior to that…you know, you’re talking about a 12 year old boy all throughout high school who was making his own money. I told my parents to stop giving me an allowance when I was a sophomore in high school. I was like, I don’t even need it. I paid my own way through college, I paid for my prom and graduation all myself, but I never had a car. I used to always take a driving service everywhere I wanted to go. Even to school, the car used to pick me up in the morning and take me to school and pick me up and bring me back home, every day. I didn’t get 16
a car until I was 24 or 25 years old and that’s when I opened Me to You Salon and Spa, and the only reason I got a car was because I needed it for the business. It was travelling salon where I would go to people’s homes and businesses and do their hair for the convenience so they don’t have to come to the salon and sit and wait. So that’s when I started attracting a lot of business women, a lot of professional women and you know it took my career to the next level. That sounds like an excellent idea, I’m surprised that it’s not more popular. So it’s still in operation today? Well basically, I go to First Lady [Michelle Obama], I do her hair a couple other people in the city and do their hair. I still have celebrity clients that I work with in L.A. and NY and other states that I go to them and do their hair. I may not always drive to them, but it is the same concept where I pack my bags with all my clothes and go to them, so it’s me to you. Who was your first celebrity client? LisaRaye Love her! She and I share the same birthday! Yes, it’s in September, right?Yes September 23rd. Yeah I remember. What do you think is your greatest career accomplishment thus far? It would probably be crazy to say that it’s not styling First Lady, but you know what? I know this might sound weird, but prior to me moving to Los Angeles I used to always be so impressed by people who moved across the country to another state or wherever and established their own. I never thought that was within my grasp to be able to do that because you know I was so comfortable living at home in Chicago and I had a huge clientele there, and then I moved to Los Angeles. I had a conversation with a friend she was actually my manager at the time. She is my manager now too but she was a different type of manager with me then, and it just kind of sparked the inspiration and I left Chicago and moved to Los Angeles. I left 300 clients in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles and worked in a high profile salon, and worked with celebrities and films, and honestly that’s when I felt the most accomplished. I know that sounds so weird but as far as the feeling is concerned, that’s what I felt. I moved my whole life to Los Angeles and found an amazing job, had a great apartment. I furnished it myself; you know I just felt so independent. A large part of that was because I never really lived a dormitory life like on my own because I went to Beauty College. So I think that’s just a natural thing that we all should do, leave the nest, and even though I was living on my own in Chicago, but just to be in another state and that far away from your support system, to me I felt so accomplished. Everything about that moment was so seamlessly done. I cannot begin to talk about all of the blessings that came my way. I just really felt accomplished. And everyone was saying you’re going to be a small fish in a big pond there and you’re a big fish in a small pond here because you’re so popular, but I still got there and I made it my own and I became a big fish real quickly. I think without that experience I would not be as useful as I am to the First Lady. I look back at my life and I realize how every moment had something to do with the next. Even if in the moment it appeared to be negative it was necessary for a lesson for my life. How long did you stay out in L.A.? I was there 2 and a half years. In the past I haven’t said very positive things about D.C. And there are a couple of reasons about that. D.C. is a whole different monster, and coming from L.A. to D.C., socially and all type of ways; it’s just a whole different world. They do have a lot of things in common, but I think I resented D.C. so much because I wasn’t ready to leave L.A. I had to check myself with that because, D.C. is a great city and I had to really get to know it and let go of the fact that I’m not in L.A. anymore and I can always go back. But I was really just getting my groove in L.A. I had it all laid out where I went for my dry cleaning, my favorite restaurants, and my friends, my route that I took to work. I just had it all laid out and really made it my own. I find that a lot of people find