Heidi Akpaette. Who we like to call the Queen of Bridal Updos here in the Twin Cities…
Walking back into the dressing room, I see my sister getting her hair done. She smiles wide with a “I am such a diva star” smile. I can tell she’s enjoying herself. Standing just behind her I recognize the tall blonde hairstylist for today- Heidi of 139 Hair by Heidi. She’s styling my sister’s hair for today’s photoshoot we are doing for the networking group TCWEP.
Fun fact: Heidi is also an official member of TCWEP!
Watching, I see that Heidi has an energy about her while she works. Her 13 years of experience shows as she deftly moves her fingers while smiling and sharing stories. Her upbeat personality is palpable as she works. It’s obvious that she has a past of working in salons, and her training with the famous Aveda Institute is apparent too.
Following that photoshoot (which you can see here) I asked Heidi to share a bit more about her work with brides and what they should expect when they come to 139 Hair By Heidi before their big wedding day. And a bit about her history of how she became 139 Hair By Heidi.
What inspires your creativity in hair styling?
“I am constantly thinking about hair and what I can do with it-I don’t realize I do this until I am sitting in public places and realize I am analyzing the hair around me. So my mind is always drifting towards hair! Other than that, there is an awesome community of really talented updo professionals that I follow on social media and learn from every day.
To me, hair feels like a canvas. When I start working with someone’s hair and start brushing through their hair, I start to think and see and envision what I can do with it. I don’t know exactly what that is-but I never get tired of it and I feel like I just know what to do as I get started.”
Do you have any hair horror stories?
“I don’t have any horror stories that involve my work-but I have had to trouble shoot sticky situations-for example one of my brides got her hair colored the week of the wedding, and it was wrong, so she had to get it done and again and it ended up being so damaged from the bleach that they had to cut about 6 inches off of her hair! We had to quickly find extensions to make her hair look the same as the trial run.”
When did you know wedding hair was a career for you?
“I have always worked with people. I have a degree in exercise science and was a personal trainer right out of college and a nutrition coach. I coached hockey for awhile as well. After that, I worked one on one with kids with disabilities in the school system. After I went back to school at age 25 for my cosmetology license, I not only worked in salons but became a certified birth doula as well. All these things work together-listening to people, being intentional, serving them, and helping them feel great. I have always loved doing hair since I was a child, but I never thought of it as a successful or lucrative career so it was never in the forefront of my mind. But looking back, all paths lead to this.”
How did you decide to make the leap 5 years ago out salons to become an entrepreneur?
“At the time it had to do with my other part time job not looking like it was going to last very long. My husband asked me if I could do just one thing and one thing only, what would it be? And I said “wedding hair”-so then he challenged me to go and do just that, and only that! It felt like a big leap of faith, but it was the best decision and I haven’t looked back.”
How many people are on your staff?
Currently, I have 4 hairstylists and 2 makeup artists currently. They are all independent contractors so they do freelance work for themselves as well. I am currently looking to hire another makeup artist!
As an entrepreneur who works with other creative types, how do you do it?
“I am a creative type, so I get what the struggles can be. Basically, I just try to be as clear with my expectations from the beginning as possible and community really well all of the time. I also continually ask for feedback to make sure I am serving my team the best I can and giving them what they need to be successful.”
What’s a bridal hair trial?
“A hair trial is a time before the wedding day that we practice the look or looks that brides are thinking of for their wedding day. We figure out exactly what the bride wants so that come the wedding day, they feel totally at ease and excited-not only about the hairstyle they are getting but with their hairstylist as well!”
It is your wedding day and you don’t need to compromise.-Heidi, 139 Hair By Heidi
When is good to schedule a hair trial?
I always recommend 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding. This way, most of the other details are taken care of and the bride will have a better over all vision of her wedding day look. Typically the dress is almost done, accessories are purchased, and the hairstyle can be the final touch on the total look. I find that if a bride schedules a trial too early, they often change their minds or forgot what their hair looked like at the trial run.
How does a bride pick the right style for her wedding hair?
“I recommend picking a lot of pictures that the bride likes so I can see a variety of looks that interests them. Then, after taking a look at their wedding dress and getting a feel for the overall wedding, I can help them narrow down a look that not only compliments their wedding dress and wedding theme, but will look great with their face shape and hair type.”
What mistakes do you help brides avoid with their hair?
“Don’t limit yourself based on what you think your hair can do or not do. Look at a lot of pictures of things you like and don’t like, and share this with our stylists. Another big mistake is getting a new color or cut within the week of your wedding. Always give yourself at least two weeks in case it isn’t right or something goes wrong.
You steer away from recommending and naming too many products in your interviews, that’s interesting. Why is this?
“I use so many different brands and I am not loyal to anything, so I don’t feel like I am the best to advise products for every day use. I have expertise in specialty hair and I use products that work for specific things I do, which work for me and my techniques. There are products I prefer and would recommend to other stylists for certain styles, but in general I do believe you have to find what works for you and what type of work you do with hair.”
Any preparation tips for a bride’s hair?
“Having “dirty” hair is no longer relevant like it used to be. There are so many products now that give us the texture we need to create a good updo that coming with your hair freshly washed is just fine. Just make sure you hair is dry and down-if you tie it up in a bun or a ponytail you can flatten out the natural volume or give yourself a kink that is hard to work out.
Anymore advice or pointers for Brides
“You’d be surprised what can be done to create an updo-so my advice is don’t limit yourself based on your hair texture, length, or density. Pick out what you like and we can figure out how to make your dream hair happen!
The other thing I always want to tell brides is it is your wedding day and you don’t need to compromise. Be honest with your hairstylist and super upfront-if you don’t like it at the hair trial– tell the stylist!
Be as picky as you want.
I’d much rather have a bride tell me she doesn’t like the look I have her and we can try a new style, or even go with a completely different stylist, and be happy on her wedding day. Rather than feel like she is compromising to be nice and then be nervous and unhappy on her wedding day.”
For more information about 139 Hair by Heidi, log onto her site.