Behind every beautifully coiffed actress is a talented hairstylist like Takisha Sturdivant-Drew.
Known as the “Hair Goddess,” Sturdivant-Drew attended Queens Vocational and Technical High School where she became a licensed hairstylist. Starting out as an assistant in an upscale salon, “within a year of working there I was a full-on hairstylist,” Sturdivant-Drew says. “I started assisting on photo shoots and soon after I went out on my own.”
Drew soon learned it would be a little difficult making a name for herself. “Once I started to look for an agent, I was told [I needed to] have a stronger portfolio,” she says. “At that young age, I’m thinking, How am I supposed to build a stronger portfolio if you’re not taking me on?”
Sturdivant-Drew heard no many more times before she connected with talent agent Ken Barboza of Ken Barboza Associates, Inc., whom she’s still with today. “He said to me, ‘You have these three clients, you do something different, and their hair is beautiful. We can go from here.’” (Her advice to up-and-coming hairstylists? Go straight to a PR agency or a management company, email your work, and eventually you’ll get a call back.)
From those original three clients, Sturdivant-Drew has gone on to work with many stars such as Brandy, Iman, and Sanaa Lathan. “My first real celebrity was Kerry Washington. When I got the phone call, I was so nervous because at that time I was still assisting, but branching out to do my own clients,” Sturdivant-Drew explains. “I was so excited though. I’m always nervous when I go to work with a new client because I don’t know their hair and they’ve seen my work, but they don’t really know my work until I do their hair. As soon as I do their hair they love it.
Before Sturdivant-Drew became the master stylist that she is today, she grew up always wanting to be a hairstylist. “I was always playing in my family’s hair,” she says now. “My family was so supportive. My mother is so beautiful; growing up, her hair was always done and freshly curled or pressed. She always did my sister and I’s hair all the time, so that was another thing that made me fall in love with doing hair.”
When Sturdivant-Drew isn’t doing some of our favorite women’s hair, she’s at home with her husband of 17 years and her set of 4-year-old twin boys. “I don’t know how I do it, but I do it,” she says. “I love what I do so much; I love hair and I love my family. I think people who work hard and really love what they do never get tired.”
She speaks to mater mea about what’s next in her career and the hair secret she shares with her clients.
Can you share with us one of the hair secrets you give your clients?
I promote healthy hair; it’s very important to me. You can have a relaxer, you can have color, but if it’s not healthy, it won’t look right. I always tell my clients to make sure they get their [hair] trimmed, make sure you moisturize, and if it feels dry, use a little oil—nothing too heavy. Make sure you’re hydrating yourself by drinking water and eat your vegetables because what goes in the body comes out of your body, which a lot of people don’t realize. Happy hair is healthy hair.
What are your thoughts on the natural hair community? Do you consider it a movement or fashion trend?
It’s definitely a movement. I think people are finally seeing that’s it okay to have an afro in the business world. Your hair is a statement, it represents who you are. You should be able to wear an afro and then straighten it and no one should be able to ask you a question. I think people are more comfortable now and [more] okay with their look.
What’s your holy grail of hair products?
I love Neutrogena hair products, especially for natural hair. My favorite conditioner right now is the Neutrogena Triple Moisture hair mask. If your hair is dry, put that on it for about 20 minutes with heat and your hair will feel like silk.
What are some simple things anyone can do to pamper their hair on a daily basis?
Styling wise, you could braid it daily to give you texture. Everyone is into the beachy look right now so that would give you that look. As far as products, I don’t like to use a lot because I feel it weighs down hair. But the one product I love to use is the Neutrogena leave-in conditioner. It protects the hair from heat by making sure your ends don’t burn and [makes straight hair] last longer.
What’s your advice for getting out of a hair rut?
I always tell people, change is good. It doesn’t have to be drastic. Start with a very subtle color and gradually go lighter. Or you can add a clip-in piece to give it a different look, or to thicken the hair, and add more gradually. They could try middle parts or side parts or even bangs—it will completely change the look.
With all that you have accomplished so far, where do you see you and your brand going?
Right now I’m focusing on branding myself. I’m about to come out with my own [hair] line. I’m known for doing weaves and I make sure that it’s completely natural looking. No one should ever know you’re wearing a weave; they shouldn’t be able to see tracks and it shouldn’t be too heavy. I’m also doing a big event with Neutrogena—they’re coming out with a new product, so I’m going to be speaking about and introducing it. I’m focusing on setting my future up. I love hair, but I want my money to work for me.
And lastly, what’s the most rewarding part of being a celebrity stylist?
When my client is happy. To see the smile on their face and to have them say “I’m happy and I love it,” especially when they come in and say they are having problems with their hair or they don’t like their hair.
I did a cancer patient’s hair and when she came in she was crying because she used to wear her hair long and straight. I didn’t know how she wore her hair before then. I made her a wig and I gave her a side part and straightened and cut it—it was beautiful.
After I put the wig on her head, she started bawling. She loved it. She asked me, “How did you know that I use to wear my hair like this?” I told her, “I didn’t know, I just looked at your picture and thought this would look beautiful on you.” It really made my day.