COVER STORY: Arrogant Tae Talks Business, Beauty and The Power Of Friendship

Dionte Gray
Courtesy of Dionte Gray


HYPE HAIR: What is your backstory?
I’m from southside Inglewood, Chicago, I’m the oldest of seven kids. I grew up around all women. My aunt, mom, and cousin all did hair, so I would always be in the salon watching them. The majority of my career, I have been self-taught! I started doing hair at 11 or 12 years old, and I would always do my mom’s friends’ kids’ hair and my little sisters’ hair. As I got older, I was literally doing my mom’s friends’ hair, my cousins’ hair, and one time, I did everyone’s hair in high school for my prom and graduation.

Right after high school, I attended Paul Mitchell in Chicago to improve my skills. Then I started working at a salon in downtown Chicago, which was new for me because I always was so comfortable working in the living room or kitchen. I was so young, working in this salon with older women, plus I was the only guy. I would always tell people, ‘I want to be a celebrity hairstylist, and move to Atlanta to follow my dreams!’ So I packed up my stuff, and my cousin and I drove to Atlanta in 2015 with only $1000. I always tell myself, ‘have faith’ and as soon as I got to Atlanta, I was so nervous and scared. I knew I had to build a clientele, and once I started doing that, my name started ringing around Atlanta. Within a few weeks, I started working with my first celebrity client, and everything took off from there; having faith and hard work paid off!

HH: You are extremely talented and a phenomenal hairstylist. How have you been keeping yourself inspired during these trying times?
I always pray, and I always talk to God. I’m so used to always receiving positivity 90 percent of the time. When people throw shade my way, I used to not really handle it well, and I would let what people said bring me down until someone looked me dead in my eyes and said, ‘Don’t ever allow people that aren’t in your position to talk down to you or bring you down! Never feed into negativity and always remain positive through tough times.’ So whenever I’m going through something or if I’m feeling down, I always snap out of it, and I talk to God and move forward. Now when negativity comes my way, I just ignore it and just laugh. People are on the outside trying to look in, but really never know the full reason why something has happened!

HH: What are your top three favorite hairstyles that you have done through your career thus far?
I have a few. I did this blue ponytail on DreamDoll that went viral. The half red and half rainbow wig on Nicki, and the short cut hairstyle that I did for Teyana Taylor for the VMAs. I could literally go on and on. I feel like all my hairstyles are my favorite!

HH: You are definitely known for making statements with your natural hair. How do you take care of your hair, and what are your go-to haircare products?
It depends on the look. Whether it’s waves or a mid-curly fro, I always have to get Murray’s Wave Grease, a Du Rag, and a hand brush. I have to keep these waves on swim. And I always oil my hair every single day because I don’t want to have dry hair with color. You want to make sure you care for your hair when you have color because you don’t want breakage or your hair falling out because you’re not taking care of it! I have also been using Beyani Organic Hair Drops, which have been growing my hair and keeping it healthy. Keeping your natural hair oiled is very important.

HH: What was your inspiration behind this shoot?
My inspiration behind this shoot with my best friend was ‘Match My Fly’ and Porcelain Doll! I’m known for my neon green hair, so I decided to do the green hair on Ari to match me. I’ve always had a vision to have Ari stand on a stepping stool, like the one when you go try on a wedding dress, and they put you in the dressing room and have you stand in front of these three mirrors, and the tailor or designer measures you. I wanted Ari to stand there with a nice gown, with hair to the floor, and I wanted to be on the side of her measuring the hair!

Ariana Fletcher and Dionte Gray
Photographer: Geeno Mizelli Hair: Arrogant Tae Makeup: Oliva Song Wardrobe: Amy J

HH: What hairstyles should women retire for 2020, and what hairstyle would you like to see more of?
It’s really no hairstyles that need to be retired because lately everyone has been bringing back the old school styles like the ’80s and ’90s looks, and I’ve been loving it! I would like to see more creativity because it’s amazing what you can do with hair!

HH: Did you have any mentors that have helped you throughout your journey? If so, what was the best advice you’ve received?
I never really had mentors, but I have had a few people who give me good advice and tell me to always be myself, stay humble, never change, and never feed into the negativity!

HH: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
People used to talk bad about how wiggy wigs are, and how they will never wear them, but when they see my work, it’s very mind-blowing. I have literally changed the way people think about wigs. When I do my technique, it can confuse people because they can’t tell if the client is wearing a wig. I just changed the game! People who have been following and knowing me for years have seen me literally start from the bottom and can see how far I’ve come. I came from Chicago, moved to Atlanta to follow my dreams and accomplish my goals.

HH: What advice would you give to other aspiring hairstylists who want to work in the beauty industry?
Stay humble, be strong-minded, because there will be a lot of criticism that comes with this industry. Set trends, stay on necks, always figure out ways to be creative because it’s all about standing out!

HH: What can we expect from Dionte Gray for the rest of 2020?
My tool line, a women’s clothing line, a salon and more dope creative looks and techniques! I’m so excited because I’ve been wanting to do this for so long, and I feel like it’s time now.

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