Iles Formula Hair Talk welcomes Eryk Brian, renowned hair and wig designer based in Oakland, California, USA.
Read on to see what Eryk has to say about the hair business today.
IF: What would you term as your specialty within your trade?
I find this to be a hard question to answer. I have been a hairdresser for over 30 years and I started in the salon cutting and coloring. I had never thought about all the possibilities out there. Over the years, I have worked with some of the most talented editorial hairstylists and now, trained with wig makers. I have learned so much from over the years and all the people. So, I would say that no matter what I have to work with, I know I can make something beautiful out of it.
IF: What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?
As a wig maker, the most enjoyable part of my job is when I deliver hair to a client and it just looks like them and they are able to walk into a room and nobody knows that they have a hairpiece on. There are so many factors into building a piece that looks like what someone had on their head – from sourcing the hair in the beginning to tying the hair in to create a cowlick or widow’s peak. That moment when you get it just right is magical.
IF: Why did you choose the path of hairdressing and was it easy to fall into this work?
After realizing I didn’t want to go into restaurant work, I decided I wanted to be a colorist. I didn’t think that I would love cutting or even styling hair at that point. But, through every step, I fell in love with every aspect of hair – whether it is cutting and coloring in the salon or being on set or backstage. I found all of it “easy” to fall into I just had to be available and open-minded.
Hair by Eryk Brian
IF: If you had not made the decision to be a hairdresser, what would you have been?
I always thought that I would end up in the kitchen in restaurant service. I started to cook when I was 5 and that was my first passion. Luckily for me, my partner is in the restaurant world so I still get to live it in our daily life.
IF: What is your greatest strength?
I would say my greatest strength is staying alert and calm in high-stress situations. I find true peace when everything gets chaotic around me. There is a place that becomes so clear and anything is possible in that moment.
IF: Your favorite hairdressing tools?
My hands!!! I have learned over the years that even without tools I can always accomplish something. But, if I had to choose 1 tool besides my hands, it would be a comb. The possibilities are endless – from cutting and coloring, to styling, the comb will always my first grab.
IF: Tell us about your relationship with Iles Formula. How did you discover us and which formula is your favorite?
I work at Pony Studios in Oakland, California and we started to carry the Iles Formula line because we were looking for a line that was simple to use and delivered amazing results. Clients are all about ease while looking their best and Iles Formula delivers all of that and more. I would have to say my favorite part of the line is the Finishing Serum. It delivers amazing blowouts and air-dried hair. I have truly fallen in love with it on set when I need hair to perform and transform all day without getting heavy or sticky – even if I’m layering it on dry hair. All I end up with is beautiful touchable hair that looks and feels healthy.
IF: What was the most challenging job you ever had?
When I first started to learn how to build a wig, I had a client that lived in another state. We did a semi-custom wig for her since I had not seen her yet. I sent the wig to her hairdresser
and they cut off the whole hairline of the wig. 2 inches of the hairline was gone. I had only been learning for 6 months at this time. But I had to rebuild the whole entire hairline in 1 day. I sat for 13 hours straight tying new lace and hair to the piece.
IF: What was your worst hair moment and why…privately or on set/stage or in the salon?
Oh, this is a good question. There are a few choices… But, when I was in beauty school in the late ’80s, my cousin came in to get her hair cut. She wanted her hair to frame her face and at this point, I knew nothing about hair. So, I cut her “face-framing” layers. What I didn’t realize at that time is that all her hair would be about an inch or two around her face and she ended up with a mullet. I remember trying to pull all her hair from the back of her head to the front to hide the mistake.
IF: If you could style anyone’s hair, who would it be and why?
My partner’s aunt. She was a very proud New Englander who had quite a battle with cancer. At one point, she had confided in me that the change in her hair from chemo was not an easy one. But, I had not learned how to build or work with wigs before she had passed away. I wish I had had the knowledge then to be able to build her a piece. With the knowledge I have now, I could have built her a piece that was perfect for her.
IF: Where do you pull hair inspiration from?
Wind is always an inspiration for me. I grew up in the desert which was extremely windy and I have always loved how it made the hair move, perform, and even change throughout the day. There is nothing more beautiful than a shape that is windblown and then still looks good when it has settled down.
IF: Your advice to young hairdressers starting out?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I have learned so much by the things that I thought were a mistake. Also, follow your passion – this industry is huge and there are so many options. Whether you are in the salon, on set for editorial work or runway work, take as many risks as you can, find a culture that feeds your soul, and allow yourself the space to grow. I love the uncomfortable moments because I know there is something to learn. Even after 30 years in the business, I keep finding things that feed my passions.
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