Being a hairstylist is literally the only job Kiyah Wright has ever known. She started out in the ’90s doing hair as a teen in her living room, eventually getting her big break from music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, where she styled the manes of Mary J. Blige and Faith Evans. That led to work with the likes of such hair divas as Tyra Banks, Gabrielle Union, Jennifer Hudson, Iman, Brandy, Gabrielle Union, Kerry Washington, Taraji P. Henson, and more.
[SEE ALSO: 11 Must-Haves To Slay Your Next Wig Install]
Twenty-six years later, she is now an icon in her own right. The two-time Emmy winner is an image-maker helping to transform how women view themselves, a brand ambassador, and a beauty boss looking to help other stylists rise as she builds her own empire.
When we chatted with the Muze founder for our April issue, Black History Month was coming to a close and salons were still open. Since then, Kiyah has temporarily closed her salon doors, shared a heartwrenching video capturing how many stylists felt about the shutdown, and ultimately rebooted with social media LIVES and flash sales.
Here is an excerpt of that chat where she talks about the transformative powers of hairstyling, her secret to a good lace front install, and her styling must-haves (that we can actually order online).
HYPE HAIR: You have been literally been doing hair for the culture for the past three decades. What keeps you motivated—and relevant—in the industry?
KIYAH WRIGHT: I really love making women over. That inspires me. You can shift the mood; you can shift someone’s look; you can change their whole energy. I like the whole giving back, the philanthropy side of hairstyling. [A good hairstyle] literally changes somebody’s life.
Your hair and your beauty are directly connected to your self-esteem. You could be the most confident person all day. But if you don’t look good, you won’t feel good—and you won’t be your best self. I make everybody feel like a celebrity. I get a rush from that, from making you look and feel your best.
HH: Tell us about your hair brand, Muze. It’s got a whole collection of wigs and extensions, right?
KIYAH: Yeah, I went for a hero—and right now, it’s wigs. So, I shifted gears and went with wigs over a product line. It’s like the new hair wardrobe. That was the decision I made like two years ago and kind of put my haircare line on delay. Now, Ciara wears my wigs. La La [Anthony] wears my wigs. Halle Berry wears my wigs. So many women are wearing them.
HH: Yeah, it seems everyone is rocking lace fronts, now. What advice do you have for us to properly blend those edges?
KIYAH: A lot of my wigs I put right behind the hairline and leave your edges out. Then I use L’Oréal Magic Root Cover Up Spray, so any little errors or anything that you can’t blend along your hairline, you spray a little bit of that to blend and cover.
Some people’s hairline is really thin. I understand that, so I’ll do just the front—like right where the widow’s peak area is. I’ll just glue that, and then I’ll still leave out those edges just for flexibility. If the wind blows, you’ve got a little bit of freedom to tuck it behind your ear.
HH: What do you want to see more of?
KIYAH: I want to see more people doing their natural hair. I’m liking the fact that I’m seeing my clients be comfortable with natural hair. The girls are feeling more comfortable with themselves.
HH: You’re also an ambassador for Pantene Gold Series and Head & Shoulders Royal Oils collections. Do you have any faves?
KIYAH: [The Gold Series] styling line is great—especially for those girls who wear braids. When I do my braid ups on my wigs, I always use their braid cream—it’s because it gives you a lot of slippage. Amazing! I love their edge tamer, too. It’s actually pretty good. It’s not too hold-y.
Head & Shoulders is also something I actually use. It’s great for color and softening, hydrating hair. I was kinda shocked. But that’s good because I don’t want to be talking about something I don’t like! They have a scalp elixir that has peppermint oil in it. It tingles the scalp and really helps prevent you from having an itchy scalp under your braids or under the weave.
HH: What else is in your must-have styling arsenal?
KIYAH: My Muze Last Look hairspray. It’s a light, flexible holding spray. I don’t like crunchy hair. It’s brushable; it’s comb through-able. It sets your hair and the next day you can curl over it. I can’t live without L’Oreal Magic Color Spray. My Tancho sticks. It’s great for flyaways, for pixie cuts. It’s really good for just laying your edges and blending your hair with the weave. You know how the ends sometimes are not blending in the weave? Just put a little bit of that Tancho Stick Styling Wax on the ends of your hair and you hit it with that flat iron, it will blend right in. It’s just a good multiuse product. And, I love a good edge control.
HH: Do you think you’ll go back to developing your own haircare product line?
KIYAH: I have it all coming. My line is pretty much ready. I just have to go out and fundraise.
HH: What else are you working on?
KIYAH: I want to build my brand out to be like the “Paul Mitchell” of textured haircare. I have a program called the “Muzepreneur” program where [stylists] come on board, and I’m basically it was like your vendor. You get everything through me, and I house everything on a platform where you can highlight and showcase the Muze hair products and make a percentage of the profits.
I also want to have my own factory and give that [education] to other stylists who don’t understand the business. Everybody can’t run a haircare brand. It’s hard as hell. It’s honestly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my entire life. So I am working on building an empire that can help others do it, too.