Lacy Redway – bringing all that swagger and attitude from Jamaica. At 14, in New Jersey salons, she was already making her fingers fly – by 22 she was assisting uber-cool Didier Malige in NY. Her talent beat the path all the way to a galaxy of stars, where she now reigns supreme.
Jourdan Dunn, Amandla Stenberg, Lupita Nyong’o, Jill Scott, Lucy Hale, Zoe Kravitz, Yara Shahidid, Nicole Bahari, Lady Ga Ga, Aja Naomi King, Carmen Ejogo, Willow Smith (Thandie Newton…NOT!!!! WHY????????? Ha Ha ha ha … maybe now we’re BFFs on ThandieKay eh Lacy? Smooch, Thandie x)
We’re completely in awe, in crush and in envy of every look she busts. It’s a TRUE STATEMENT that a hairdresser who can learn how to work the challenging awesomeness of THE AFRO can do ANYTHING. She defines that, and much more. Welcome Lacy, we bow to your bodacity!
Kay: You were born in Jamaica and moved to the US at 8 years old – tell us about your immediate impressions of America in comparison with Jamaica and about your expectations of the US before you arrived?
Lacy: As a child, my perception of America was completely bogus. I thought everyone that lived here was wealthy. My mom was a hard-working Jamaican woman like most are. She came to the U.S. I believe in the late 80s.
Once she saved up enough money she sent for the rest of us to join her in “foreign” as we Jamaican’s would call the United States. Still, as a child, that entire concept didn’t click for me right away. My only knowledge of what Americans and their lifestyles were like was what I saw on television.
Lacy: When I first arrived as a naive 8-year-old child we lived in an apartment building or flat as you would say in the UK. I pulled up to the building and in my mind, I thought the entire apartment building was our house. Later to realize we only lived in a small apartment inside the large building. I think my 8-year-old self is how a lot of foreigners view people in America as all being wealthy.4E
Kay: Did you play with hair as a little girl-either on friends or dolls (if so which ones I’m a trivia nerd!)?
Lacy: Yes, I played with dolls. I generally had the generic dolls, not the fancy American dolls or any of the other fancy ones but I remember as early as the second grade being very interested on plaiting my dolls’ hair.
Kay: At what point did you think ‘I’d quite like to be a hairdresser…’? Or did you kind of fall into it?
Lacy: I later began braiding friends hair in grade school maybe around 4th or 5th grade. My sister is the only other family member that I can think of that is naturally good at hair, maybe that’s where I got it from.
Kay: Who instilled within you the confidence/encouragement to not only express yourself creatively but also be in a social environment where you have a lot of responsibility for the way people look and feel about themselves?
Lacy: My experiences taught me. I have been so lucky to train under some of the best hairdressers in the world like Guido Palau, Eugene Souleiman, Odile Gilbert, Didier Malige, and Luigi Murenu just to name a few.
Working under them and learning from all of them I was able to get a sneak peek of how to maneuver and adapt in stressful environments, working fast but extremely efficiently and taken what I have learned and putting my own twist on it.
It’s important as a hairdresser to have a point of view and be confident in your craft. You will encounter clients that are difficult to please or impossible to please. Sometimes you have to win those clients over by just going for it and reminding them why they hired you.
Lacy: I think I was about 11 at the point. I was mostly braiding or styling hair not quite cutting yet in this phase. For sure my parents instilled this work ethic indirectly. All I’ve ever seen them do was work and work really hard. My mom especially for making so much sacrifice to come this country to provide her family with a better life.
We were not rich. I didn’t have everything I wanted but always had everything I needed. I think the “wants” was what began my hustle. LOL!
Kay: Looking back, who influenced you visually/aesthetically as a child? Could be TV/music/someone in your community or family-anyone…
Lacy: I think the music I grew up in was a great influence to me. My culture which I grew up in, the way I would see women wear their hair styled. Also, earlier on in my career I did a lot of tedious braid work (micro braids, intricate cornrow designs etc) which is still very evident in my work today.
Kay: I had no idea that MySpace was used for anything other than recording artists, but you put your work on there.. How old were you? Was this an unusual thing to do at the time?
Lacy: Before Myspace was used for just musicians it was also a social media network platform. I also had Facebook but it was not as popular as you had to have your college email address to be a member.
I think I was about 19 when I joined. I was also on other social media platforms like ModelMayhem at that time where I met some amazing people I still work with today when we were doing test photoshoots together.
Kay: Tell me more about finding Black Hair Media during your junior year in High School, and how it led to you having women fly from all over the world to get their hair done by you!
Lacy: It happened organically. Some of the women on that platform also had myspace as well where my work was visible. I began offering my services then word got around that I was good and women began to travel to come and have hair extensions done by me.
Kay: I’m sure that because you’re an artist, you live for new, creative experiences, but could you tell me what hairstyles you’ll always come back to? For instance, as a makeup artist, I often go back to a few looks that will always resonate: a ‘French New Wave’ eye, a cherry-stained lip/ with flushed cheek+bare eye makeup, or cloggy black mascara and red lips….
Lacy: This is a difficult one because I work with so many different hair types and textures. Out of working with so many different textures I really enjoy hair that looks “effortless”. I don’t typically like to use a ton of product to build hair, I love hair that has movement.
Kay: Jamaican style has one of the most consistently omnipresent (AND underrated as an influence) reflection upon street/urban/club wear of all time, and let’s not even get into the incredible influence of music… For a tiny Island, it sure makes some noise! Growing up in a neighborhood full of Jamaicans, I’ve always had a lot of love for the way Jamaicans wear things ‘jus so’… like no-one else.
Kay: More than ever it’s influence is here, crossing over and back and forward across ethnicities, which has created friction in some parts of the online world (cultural appropriation). Whereas in Britain’s cities, black and white people are much more merged than the US, so white girls have worn cornrows like their black friends, who have in turn been straightening theirs..I never heard the term growing up as this merging was genuinely not an issue in my mixed-up community-
West Indian Style/fashion/music has always been the coolest. London+Bristol have given birth to many a multicultural hybrid (off top of head Bristol’s Massive Attack and The Clash who Bob Marley wrote ‘Punky Reggae party about the Notting Hill Punk meets Reggae scene of the 70’s).
One thing about being a Jamaica that is instilled in my bloodstream is to be bold and unique. We have done things as a small island, came up with the baddest dances, etc that has so much cross over appeal.
Kay: So I feel I can ask you neutrally as you’re Jamaican, what are your thoughts on cornrowing: more specifically when you cornrow a woman’s hair who is white?
Lacy: As a hairstylist and especially as Jamaican one with an editorial background, I love playing with shapes and texture and pushing the envelope when it comes to hair artistry.
I am not that bothered by anyone else being inspired by my culture and its uniqueness. I am however particularly not a fan of when ideas are borrowed into other cultures than are accredited as the originator of the idea.