FYIG recently had the chance to chat with “The Hair Gypsy” Kelly Araujo about becoming a celebrity hairdresser for Nelly Furtado and Tessa Virtue. Find out more about Kelly right here!
You’ve been interested in hairstyling from a young age. Did you ever expect what was just a hobby to turn into a career?
No. I really never imagined I’d be a hairdresser. I was that girl, who’s friends would always ask to style their hair. I was good at it, and I liked styling hair for them, but I never meant for it to be a career. It was quite the accidental path, but I’m happy about where I’ve ended up. It’s so much more than hairstyling to me. It’s a means of connecting with people on a deeper level. I am able to spend my days making women feel great about themselves, which in turns leads to them go into the world and do great things. I am empowering them to be their best selves. That is something I’m proud and grateful to be a part of.
You studied marketing in college. What were your plans before switching career paths and did those studies help you at all in the industry you’re in now?
I had every intention of working in the marketing field when I was done school, but fate intervened, and I ended up discovering my passion for hair. I never did finish my degree. I ended up dropping out to give my hair career a fair chance. I was nearly done my program when I made that decision, but even so, the knowledge I gained from my college education has served me very well in my new career. It gave me the tools to brand and market myself successfully. It’s still something I am very interested in. I wake up every morning and read the latest marketing/ business news on the internet without fail.
How did you evolve as a hairdresser from working at Medulla and Co. What have you learned there?
Medulla & Co was the first and only salon I have ever worked at. When I first came to know of the salon ten years ago, it was called Hair on the Avenue. It has since evolved into what it is today, and I have been part of every major growth period of that business, aside from its initial inception. This November will mark my tenth year with the business, but also as a hairdresser and it’s kind of crazy looking back. Ten years is a really long time. I learned everything I know there. Some lessons came harder than others, but all of it has made me who I am today.
How were you introduced to Breakfast Television’s Dina Pugliese? What was it like becoming her personal hairdresser?
I was connected with Dina Pugliese, through the salon (Medulla & Co). It was one of the first opportunities I was offered. I was a junior and had no experience whatsoever doing hair for TV and I was terrified!! Lucky for me, Dina is the loveliest human on the planet. Every step of the way she has been kind and supportive. She is also fearless when it comes to hair and makeup and she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s always game for getting creative, and she really allowed me to push myself, and grow as an artist. We have been working together for the last eight years, and our relationship is much more than that of a hairdresser and their client. We are more like sisters at this point. She has inspired me far beyond the hair or TV industries. She is an empowered female who makes it a priority to lift up the women around her and I am so blessed to be one of those women and know first-hand the gains that that kind of support can yield. I will always try my best to pay that forward. She has been a force in my life and career that I am grateful for every day.
You’ve also worked with singer Nelly Furtado including a press tour on several notable US talk shows. What was it like touring the world with her?
Touring the world with Nelly Furtado, was incredible. The US press tour specifically, was a game changer for me. It was impossible not to feel the grandiose nature of US Television. It was a fast-paced and high-pressure gig. I was dead set on not messing it up. I spent most of the time, quiet and laser focused. Internally, I was so nervous and anxious about everything but I had the good fortune, yet again, to be surrounded by supportive females. Nelly and her long-time makeup artist and friend Colleen Creighton made me comfortable, but also, made it very clear to me that they were invested in my success.
Colleen really took me under her wing and taught me everything she could about TV hair. At the time she had in excess of twenty years of experience and was the holy grail of hair tips and tricks, and I soaked up as much info as I could. I am forever grateful for the mentorship she provided me with. We have worked together a million times since, but that tour will forever be one of my favourites. It really shaped me as an artist and helped build my confidence. It also provided me with yet another example of how females can empower each other.
You found yourself in Switzerland with Nelly Furtado for the ice skating show Art On Ice, there you met Olympic Champion ice skater Tessa Virtue and you became her personal hair stylist. How crazy was it to gain such a high-profile client from such a chance meeting?
That trip was very special. We went into it not really knowing what to expect. That show was a production of mass proportions. It could rival some of pop music’s biggest shows complete with, moving stages, pyrotechnics, dancers, acrobats, and world-class Figure Skaters! It truly was larger than life.
Tessa Virtue was on that tour along with her skate partner Scott Moir and they are super genuine, wonderful people. Connecting with Tessa was a very natural thing. She is the type of person that talks to everyone and treats everyone with the same respect and level of interest. It was so lovely getting to share that tour with her. After we returned to Canada once that tour had wrapped is when we connected on a more one on one level. We met for coffee and planned our first creative photo shoot for fun. From there we became fast friends. Being able to work with her in addition to being her friend is an added bonus. She has gone above and beyond in her support for me as a friend and as an artist and I am so grateful that our worlds came together on that tour. She has inspired me in so many ways, and by now, you can see the pattern here. I am who I am because of so many females in my life that have taken the time, to lift me up. It’s a cycle of support that I wish to pass along to others, so I can do the women who have been a part of my support system proud.
What are some of the differences between being a hairdresser for a celebrity versus a regular client?
I would say the biggest difference between doing celebrity hair and regular clients is that celebrities are willing to take more risks with their beauty looks. Their looks are decided on by full teams of people and are based on a variety of factors, like where they are going, what they are doing or wearing, and current trends. There is also an expectation that celebrities should always be on trend and switch up their looks frequently. They are always re-inventing themselves.
Where did the name “The Hair Gypsy” come from?
It’s actually something I came up with because I thought there was no way anyone would pay any attention to my work if I didn’t attach an interesting moniker to it. It seemed fitting because I have spent the majority of my career traveling around doing hair, whether that be in the city or across the globe. My roller bag is never far from me. I’ve thought of scraping the name about a million times, but I’m not ready. A friend recently got me a monogrammed jacket as a gift, and I just love it. I realize I’m quite attached to the name. Clients call the salon all the time and ask to book with “The Hair Gypsy,” and it makes me chuckle every time!
What’s next for your career?
I’m not entirely sure, to be honest, but I feel like I’m ready for anything. I’m leaving myself open to receive any and all opportunities that come my way because I still feel like I have a lot more to do and learn and that to me is very exciting. So, whatever it is, I welcome it with open arms.
Let the readers know where they can find you online.
They can find me on Instagram & Twitter: @thehairgypsy
I also have a website and blog that you can visit at: