Many times, the people that work behind the scenes making the scene rarely get recognized for their work. SociaLifeChicago will spotlight the amazing people that make you, look great.
Late last year, Chicago’s own Jennifer Hudson debut a new pixie cut look that was received with such attention and of course we had to find out who was behind it. The J-Hud hair was courtesy of celeb hairstylist Cesar Ramirez @Cesar4Styles who has worked on everything from magazine editorials to beauty campaigns. His talent has been seen on such beauties as Kelly Rowland, Lala Anthony, Ciara, Jennifer Hudson, Roselyn Sanchez to name a few. We had the opportunity to speak with him on how he got his start, advice to givei to those looking to become the next Cesar and more.
SociaLifeChicago: What inspired you to make the transition from fashion school to hairstylist?
Cesar: I started cosmetology and assisting at a salon to make money to pay for fashion school. My dream was really to go to FIT in New York City. Once I started doing hair I realized how much I loved it and that there was a whole world of opportunity. I only attended FIT for one semester but hair has allowed me to still be a part of the fashion world.
SLC: How did your previous experiences in life/school/family shape you for this career path/industry?
CR: I grew up in a very low income neighborhood with my single mom who work very, very hard to take care of me. Every weekend we would spend hours at my family beauty salon. There I began my fascination with hair, especially experimenting on my own hair.
SLC: Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration/mentor over the years that has really driven or inspired you?
CR: I grab inspiration from every angle. My family and friends, fashion magazines and even from my clients. I’ve been lucky enough to assist some amazing hair stylist over the years like Guido Palau and Julian d’Ys, who are my biggest idols. When it comes to the business side, my mentor has always been Jo Blackwell, who I’ve worked for at Dop Dop Salon in NYC for the past 13 yrs.
SLC: If you could team up with one runway fashion show, which designer would it be and why?
CR: My goal is to have a presence at Paris Fashion Week soon, I’d have to say Givenchy. Luigi Murenu is another one of my idols and keys the Givenchy show. I’d live to work with him. I think Riccardo Tisci has done such an amazing job at Givenchy super current and energetic it seems to be inspiring modern day fashion. I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to view the show twice and it’s so much fun.
SLC: What are three words that you would use to define the journey/path that took you to where you are today?
CR: AMBITIOUS, BLESSED, EXCITING!
SLC: Is there one product you would or could never go without?
CR: I love texture!! Texture sprays, Texture powders even texture foam. I like to see the hair have life, a little messy like “This girl lived in that look” So I need those in my kit!
SLC: What is the biggest challenge you face on a regular day and how do you work through it?
CR: For me it’s less a challenge and more so a goal. I want to change the hair world. I want to leave a huge stamp on this industry like the amazing talented icons before me. It’s challenging because there’s a new hair person on the scene everyday. Whats important to me is to make my clients happy and maintain my integrity all while doing it with tact and grace.
SLC: What’s the best advice you could give someone starting off in this business?
CR: Remain humble, take your time and learn. Educate yourself in all area from technique to knowing how to write a proper email. There is so much that goes into this business and I’ve had to learn it thru trial and error. Try to assists someone you admire and have them mentor you.
SLC: How would you describe your own personal style? Does that influence your creative with clients?
CR: my personal style changes from time to time but it’s always simple with a little rock and roll edge. I secretly want to be a rockStar. I’m a little older now so I try to keep it classy, Lol. It does influence my creativity. My work is simple, pretty and beautiful with a little rock and roll edge.
SLC: What is the next step for your career?
CR: I’m working hard to brand myself. It’s time to journey into something larger. I’ve just teamed up with a really great product line and I’m excited to for the projects we have coming up, so keep an eye out for it!
SLC: Where would you like to see your business grow over the next couple of years?
CR: I really want to create a lifestyle brand. Products, designs, salons. I plan to be a Global Creative Director someday soon
SLC: You work with some pretty fabulous people, if you could pick one to hang out with for a day, who would it be and why? Also, do you ever stay in contact with your first celeb booking (Elizabeth Berkley)?
CR: That’s sooo hard to answer! All of my clients are so much fun and I actually hang out with them all the time. I’m so blessed that they have became like family to me.
I run into Elizabeth every now and then. I last saw her when we promoted her season of “Dancing with the Stars”.
SLC: Tips to rock the look this spring?
CR: Natural texture. I really want to see girls embrace there curls and waves, even fro it out if you have to. As long as it’s healthy and maintained it could be so much fun. Spring also is always a good excuse for me to make my clients lighter.
SLC: For our readers that may not be able to afford their own glam squad like you, what tips can you give to still get a fraction of that celeb look/glow
CR: 50% of it is the products you use. Even if you splurge on really good products it’s still cheaper then a glam team or the stress of repairing damaged hair. I love MIZANI for their great conditioning treatments and heat protecting serums. Its a branch of the L’Oreal brand. You could try calling the L’oreal center and asking them to refer you to a reputable stylist in your area that carries the brand.
SLC: A lot of people aspire to be in the position you are in but don’t realize the hard work that goes into it, paint us a picture of what a day in the life is like?
CR: Well I recently worked on a promo run with a long time client. We decided it was time for a new look. After a full day of clients at the salon we began to cut and color her hair which took about 8 hours because it was a major change and we all know what goes into a major change. After, I had to run to another client’s apartment at around 12 am to fit and cut a hair piece. By 3 am I was in bed and up at 6am to prep for an all day shoot not to mention pack for a red eye after my shoot. So basically most of my sleeping time happens sitting up on an airplane and I work well thru the night making sure all of my clients look fab during the day. It’s a special treat when I get to see my family. I am not complaining at all! I love it!
SLC: Where do you get your inspiration from?
CR: From Runway fashion shows to red carpets and magazines, movies. Everything I see inspires me.
SLC: How do you keep your craft and your celeb clients setting trends and stay on top of your game?
CR: I don’t try to copy what I see. Even though everything’s already been done I like to add the Cesar touch. I also never get comfortable in one look. After I do something two or three times I’m over it and I want to try something new but the change always has to be at the right time.
With Contribution from Briana Mate.
Images via: Cesar Ramirez, Lala Instagram, Getty