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Alicia Igess

I realized that hair had special meaning for me when I was quite young. My Aunt Sharon had a life size doll named Karen that I loved not only because she was just my size, but because she had such lovely hair for me to play in. I loved her so much that I combed the hair right out of her head (literally!) It was so bad that my grandmother, Murdear, had to buy poor Karen a wig because I had combed her hair until she was bald! (You'll be pleased to know I outgrew that stage ...)

Hairdressing is in my blood. My grandmother was a hairdresser. My godmother was a hairdresser as well. I spent many afternoons just sitting and watching them and others at work. When I turned nine, I decided that I didn't want anyone to comb my hair anymore. Well, I would ask my mother, sisters, aunts, cousins -- whoever happened to be handy -- to part my hair off and I would style my own ponytails.

I charged $5.00 for the basic and $7.00 if you wanted the waves lifted. That style was known as the freeze. We would mix water with Ampro gel (black gel) to extend the life of it. The water would make it expand and therefore I had more product to work with so my overhead was less. Always eager to learn and grow, I would watch whoever and pick up new techniques. I had a full clientele in junior high school. I even had adults as clients -- quite an accomplishment for a young teenage girl!

After I graduated from Tennessee State University, I taught Special Education on a high school level. Boy was this challenging! I loved the high school environment. I loved to teach. However, I quickly decided that if I was going to teach, it would be a subject that I loved. So I went to cosmetology school.

Enrolling into cosmetology school was the most challenging thing I had done to date. I thought I knew everything. Little did I know, I had the technical stuff down but I was lacking when it came to the theory behind hair care management. The theory to this day is what allows me to explain what I do. I always say, "Even if I didn't have my hands, I would know how to tell you how to style hair."

I've come full circle -- from fan to student to practitioner and now to teaching others the skills I've learned over the years. I have made a commitment to dedicate the rest of my professional life to educating others about hair -- whether they grew it or bought it. Everyone benefits from a healthy head of hair.