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Roxie Jane Hunt is a Seattle-based hairdresser who takes a holistic approach within her craft. Working in beauty, as Hunt points out, there is a responsibility to celebrate different ideas of beauty, and not rigorously sell beautification to those who have been conditioned to believe that they need it.

In 1999, a school counsellor pulled her aside and asked if she would consider going to beauty school, since she was always seen cutting hair at lunch times, but wasn’t doing very well in her high school classes. Hunt was 15 years old when she left high school and went on to flourish at beauty school. She then travelled Europe cutting hair in exchange for a place to crash, opened her own salon, worked under a master riot girl hair artist, did house calls, cut hair in an airplane bathroom with a Swiss army knife, and now also works as an educator and beauty activist. Free Your Hair is her current project, and soon-to-be salon, where Hunt teaches people alternative perspectives around haircare in conjunction with self-care.

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Your creative practice is very multifaceted, and includes working as a hair stylist, colourist, blogger, photographer and beauty activist. What elements of the hair and beauty industry do you think are in need of evolving? Beauty is a birthright to everything born under the sun. Industry implies the commodification of that which is our born right and innate truth. The beauty ‘industry’ was created to profit off the insecurities of primarily women and has created an environment of skewed self-perception and major feelings of self inadequacy and competition on a massive societal scale. It needs a re-brand. We need to collectively set a new intention and name for it. More conversations about what beauty means, what beauty feels like. About what it means to feel beautiful and look beautiful, and where those things intersect and why.

Both providers and consumers need to realise the implications of supporting huge beauty brands that were created with the intention of making loads of money, at any cost. I would like to see more of the young and empowered beauty influencers who represent these companies WAKE UP and look at what they are doing. I want to see more people caring more about the ethics and intention behind the companies they rep and share and thinking critically about what it means to use your money and your voice for true good.

I also see a real need for creative transformation and awakening and education tailored to people who are stuck in their own creative boxes. That’s why I continue to do the creative work I do and have created Free Your Hair Education, an independent hair education movement that seeks to empower creativity, collaboration and outside-the-box thinking for hair stylists. We have an incredible opportunity to do a great deal of good for the person sitting in our chair every day. We need to be doing hair from a place of affirming to people that they are already beautiful exactly as they are when they come to us — our job is to help them see different sides of themselves by experimenting with their look. Hair stylists need to re-learn the art of a good consultation. I think often hair stylists come into their careers having suffered and seeking to heal their own beauty wounds, and until that self-healing has been examined and put into practice, we continue to inflict pain onto our clients.

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In which way do you utilise your work to contribute to these changes? I utilise my work to bring awareness to these things by valuing myself, I make time for being in my own creative imagination and process, and I continue to challenge myself and share the journey. I create work to entertain my own whims, understanding that my own freaky nature is what the world needs more of. I strive to collaborate and uplift people whenever I can. When all the stars are aligned, and I am doing all of these things and also kicking ass as a mother of three, I feel like I am basically doing the most potent work I possibly can to transform the beauty industry and the world in the ways I see are needed.

Other days, I feel like a flop and a failure. And, I continue to balance it all as a general practice, never as a result. The myth of being able to ‘do it all’ is too big and impossible. So I try to embody the change I want to see whenever I can.

How would you describe the aesthetics of your hair art to someone who hadn’t seen your work? Imaginative, playful, interesting, different. Fun. Compelling.

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Your practice includes colour work, stencilling, styling and shaping to name a few. What are some current favourites, or new techniques you are exploring? For years I’ve been a bit obsessed with finding techniques from the world of traditional folk art and fibre craft to create new colours and textures and patterns. Tying knots and using heat on the hair. Knot Setting, I call it. I tend to swing between deep fascination with colour, texture, and form, depending on the season. I’m getting deep into wigs. Painting really long hair. I’m making some really insane long painted ponytails for an upcoming collaboration. Hair so long it’s almost scary. Combining colour and texture and form together. That is my new thing that I’m exploring. Really marrying those 3 things in ways that capture a feeling really effectively.

I should mention here that my bread and butter is doing haircuts in my living room. I have a technique that I mostly use called Free Cutting, which is dry shear cutting to maximise and free up hair with natural texture and movement. I work specifically with people who are needing to transform their lives by getting unstuck and back into the flow, hair first. That is the realm I have been walking in for 25 years or more, transformation and initiation through hair. It has been more recent that I have explored actually talking about it and framing it in that way. I am talking about the truth and heart of what I do, publicly, without shame or fear.

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What are your current inspirations or muses? Always, always nature and the movement of the natural world through time and space. Thats my biggest muse and inspiration. My kids are for sure my muses. They are wild, free birds filled with complicated emotions and feelings, and they are on unique journeys of becoming themselves. What could be more inspiring? They are truth embodied. I also just took a class with Dennis Lanni at the launch of PONY Studios in Oakland that refilled the tanks of my childlike heart. He was pure imagination and playtime married with absolute skill and curiosity. He was very process-oriented, and not afraid to do ‘more is more’, which is a mantra I am finally embracing after a lifetime of trying to shove it down and keep it boxed up. I am a more is more person and I’m not sorry anymore. Thanks Dennis for the affirmation. Also, just watched Ramona Eschbach do a haircut called the Jelly Fish that just shattered me. It couldn’t have been more inspiring.

Jayne and Chri and the family at Edo Salon in SF have been long time muses and mentors and inspiration to me, since I discovered them in 2005 when I lived in the Mission and walked past Edo every day on my way to my restaurant job on upper Haight street. I would look in that window and think to myself “once I get my shit together and can figure out how to get my hair license in California, I’m coming straight to EDO.” They just had this light, airy, friendly vibe that was absolutely magnetic and still is. And the hair coming out the door was perfect. Still is.

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What does your own hair mean to you? This is a rabbit hole and no one has ever asked me but to answer it would be telling the story of my own entire life. I will try to put it in a nutshell. My hair is my visual and tactile barometer and communicator of my inner self without words. It is my story. That’s it.

And, as I learn more about genetics and DNA and hair, I am dumbfounded to realise that hair is literally and physically my story, and the story of my ancestors. The story keeps getting longer and bigger. And then I bleach it and cut it and attempt to re-write it.

“The beauty ‘industry’ was created to profit off the insecurities of primarily women and has created an environment of skewed self-perception and major feelings of self inadequacy and competition on a massive societal scale”
Roxie Jane Hunt
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Would you be able to tell us a bit about some of your looks captured here? This one I love because it was a breakthrough that represents the end of a long stuck period where I had grown quite bored with myself and had run out of new ideas. I took some old wefts that I frankly hated and wanted to destroy, and I started tying them in knots over and over again because braiding and knotting is a meditation for me and helps me get grounded. All of the sudden I thought “whoa I kind of love this.” So I went with it. I grabbed my 11 year old daughter and pleaded and bribed with her to let me clip them into her head and shoot some photos (she is so over it.) She is the queen of the killer fierce looks.

Here is the thing: I realised with this one that the creative process is cyclical and the part where we hate what we are working on because we are tired of looking at it is very crucial to the process. It is staying with it and trusting it to lead us back to love. It has shown me that love is an innately magnetic spiral. That’s why I like this look.

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I also love this one because, again, it was a breakthrough where all of the sudden I fell in love with hair all over again. I had just gotten a new gorgeous pair of Arc shears and they were huge long blades and sharp as shit. I’ve got a couple of incredible muses who will sit and talk with me and let me do whatever I want to their hair. It’s a dream come true every time.

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Really love this one as well, because it was the beginning of my love affair with the colour black. It was when I realised that the rainbow means nothing without the darkness. The rainbow is forever my muse and teacher and that didn’t click for me until I started working with black as well.

Credits

Images Roxie Jane Hunt
Interview Emma de Clercq
Words Katharina Lina

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