10 Questions with Evie Johnson
Over the course of twenty-one years, Evie Johnson has been a successful hairstylist, salon owner and Mizani Educator--and never once has she questioned her love of the craft. But today, while we’re discussing her career, she recalls a pivotal period not too long ago that made her realize her original love was only scratching the surface. As she began to delve deeper into trichology—the scientific makeup of hair and scalp—Evie realized that what she previously felt about hairstyling paled in comparison. “I have always had a passion for hair,” she says, over the phone. “But within the last six or seven years while earning my trichology license, I really, really understood the meaning of hair. Before I was doing it and I loved it. But now I embody it because I understand its science. Learning that gave me a newfound respect of hair and how far I can take it—chemically, thermally—without damage.” This, Evie says, has made her fearless about hair care, cutting, coloring and styling. Below she discusses the value of always seeking a challenge, what really is behind the success of her salon and why reinvention is absolutely necessary for survival in business--and in life.
By Marcia Cole
“After studying trichology, I learned how to step “inside” the strand to get a 3D view of hair; and become one with the hair. As a result, I now see hair from the inside out, rather than from the outside in.”—Evie Johnson
“I didn’t lose clients because when they made the switch to using less chemical straighteners, I made a switch with them. My approach to my business and in life is that if you see a trend is downsizing you need an up-trend.”—Evie Johnson
Mizani: You’ve had your salon for eight years, but previously you were a booth renter. What is the biggest adjustment for you?
Evie Johnson: The biggest adjustment is being responsible for a lot of things—like when things are broken, you have to fix it. It’s like owning a house. For some owners, the different personalities are a challenge, but that was never a problem for me. I knew the stylists in my salon and I hand-picked them because I wanted to have a good, team-friendly environment. I’m blessed to have a wonderful salon, home, family and friends who have my best interests in mind. As a result, if I’m away doing something for Mizani, I don’t have to worry about having someone pick up my kids or my salon being mismanaged.
Mizani: What motivates you about doing hair?
EJ: You know, I love everything about hair—all the little strands too. I love the fact that I can paint it and I can do anything I want to it. Just think: hair is the only thing on the body that can be drastically changed without surgery. So I think in my next life I will be hair a surgeon.
Mizani: What made you decide to get your trichology license?
EJ: I didn’t understand why women were losing their hair. I was seeing the same pattern, and since I am the type of person to try and understand why something is happening, that pattern made me want to investigate more about the cause. I understood that if you have a bald spot, it might be due to stress, but I wanted to understand what is it about the stress that makes the hair come out. In the U.S. there are only 100 or so certified trichologists, and it takes about two years to complete the coursework that includes clinical testing. And when you are certified it says that you can determine why a person’s hair is coming out. We can do recommendations, but we can’t diagnose a condition, from a medical perspective, like a dermatologist.
Mizani: Besides becoming certified, what else did you gain from it?
EJ: It motivated me because it gave me a deeper perspective [about hair]. The way I started doing hair was from the outside in. After studying trichology, I learned how to step “inside” the strand to get a 3D view of hair; and become one with the hair. As a result, I now see hair from the inside out; that perspective has made me respect what I do more than ever because I can now make a style come to life in a whole other way.
Mizani: Hair loss is a big issue. What do you believe is causing the loss of hair?
EJ: Well it can be a combination of things: stylists (or clients) misusing chemicals, genetics and a client’s lifestyle. Those are the three major reasons, then there are mechanical causes like braiding or twisting hair too tight. They all can, and do, contribute to hair loss.
Mizani: Hair loss and or the misuse of chemicals are two of the top reasons many clients have decided to leave salons or transition off relaxers. How were you able to keep your clients in the midst of the big migration to do-it-yourself beauticians?
EJ: I didn’t lose clients because when they made the switch to using less chemical straighteners, I made a switch with them. My approach to business, and in life, is that if you see a trend is downsizing you need to connect with what is trending up. You [as a stylist] can’t say “I don’t do natural hair.” As a hairstylist, you can also offer them other services. Every natural hair person wants to do color, for example. So my belief is that you need to stand for something because clients will want that. They will want to know that you will keep the healthy at all times.
Mizani: Do you think complacency is a problem in the industry?
EJ: I think we can get so complacent in our industry that we don’t realize that clients are not always going to be there. You as the hair professional should always reinvent yourself at least every five years. If you’re doing the same stuff every year, you can’t grow. The only exception is if you have an older, more mature clientele. And even then, they want to see you offer them new things. You always need to switch with the times.