How 2 Stylists Are Changing The New York Hair Game

We all know the best things come in twos: the perfect pair of heels, the Hemsworth brothers, and New York's ultimate hair duo —and R29 faves! — Wes Sharpton and Roxie Darling. The hairdressing mavens have been cutting, coloring, and creating since they first met years ago at Michael Gordon's Bumble and bumble, making New York women look — and feel — their best. So, when Gordon opened his latest project, Hairstory Studio, a creative space dedicated to experimentation and refining craft, Wes and Roxie were an obvious choice to bring on board. 

But, what is it like to work in a place that's been compared to Andy Warhol's Factory? Ahead, Wes and Roxie open up about their start in the beauty industry, what they've learned along the way, and why the (much talked about) Cleansing Creme is so damn revolutionary.

Want a free bottle of Smooth Finish and Foundation Creme? Now through May 4, add at least one Cleansing Creme to your shopping bag, use the promo code HAIRSTORYR29, and click APPLY COUPON.

Photographed by Alyssa Kirsten.
Name: Laura Kate, a.k.a. "Roxie Darling"
Age: 27

When did you first know you wanted to pursue a career in beauty?
"When I was 16, I was home in the kitchen watching the girl who did my mom's hair, and I thought to myself, 'I could do that.' It just kind of hit me. I started doing my own hair and my friends' hair, and I loved the concept of change — the chemistry and the physics of it, the manipulation of dark and light. To be honest, I also loved the control, and that the results were so tangible."
Photographed by Alyssa Kirsten.
Tell me about your first job in the industry. What did you learn from it?
"The first salon I ever worked at was very small but chic, and the owner had this great bohemian vibe to her. What I learned early on — after many mistakes — was that I needed to be very present during any task I was performing, whether it was sweeping hair, folding towels, or putting a toner on for the colorist I worked under."
Photographed by Alyssa Kirsten.
How did you get involved with Hairstory?
"I worked at Bumble and bumble, where I met Wes, for five years. When I joined Bumble, it had a great culture, but it was sadly at the tail end, as Michael [Gordon, its founder] had left. When I left Bumble, Wes introduced me to Michael — I felt we shared a perspective and aesthetic, and luckily he saw something in me.

"Hairstory has allowed me to practice my craft in a great space, surrounded by people who share my intention: to give the world really great hair. It's been extremely conducive to expanding my creativity. It's quiet, it's calm — and I've gained so much of the right type of exposure that I'm now attracting the kind of clientele I always wanted. I also have this stunning, growing portfolio, since so much of my work is documented inside the studio."
Photographed by Alyssa Kirsten.
Is there a particular color you're most proud of?
"There was a real breakthrough moment in my career a few years back: it was a red, white, and blue look that served as a tipping point in my career.

"My mother passed away from cancer, I had just left Bumble, and I decided to push myself, not knowing what the results might be. I played around with color in a very creative way, and sometimes made mistakes that came out brilliantly. This was one. The model was Gina, our producer and illustrator at Hairstory. She's been a longtime muse of mine, it's our favorite color we've done together. The psychology of it was amazing. People would come and see all sorts of different things; one woman came up to her and said, 'Your hair is inspiring me to vote this year!' I learned right then and there the profound effect I have on people by placing colors in the world."
Photographed by Alyssa Kirsten.
Has there been a moment in your career when you've really felt like you finally achieved your dreams?
"Every day I feel like that, because I wake up and I do something I love — that's the dream. I feel at peace that I'm on the right path, surrounded by people who help give me perspective. As far as being satisfied with my work, I always feel I can do better, and every night I think about how I can be better tomorrow."

What's the best piece of career advice you've ever been given?

"'Less is more, placement is key.' — Grato Longoria"
Photographed by Alyssa Kirsten.
Name: Wes Sharpton
Age: 35

When did you first know you wanted to work in beauty?

"It was a logical choice for me. I was a very imaginative boy growing up in a very small town. I had this expansive imagination and lots of ideas. I was also very analytical, but not academic. Beauty seemed like the right field for me to train my eye. I knew with hair, I could make something out of my life, and put my imagination to good use."

What is the most important thing for someone to consider when cutting their hair?
"I think you should consider the hairdresser. You need to find a stylist who will sit with you for a real consultation — someone with an analytical eye and good taste, who cares, looks you straight in the eye, and has a genuine exchange with you."
Photographed by Alyssa Kirsten.
Tell me about your first job in the industry. What did you learn from it?
"At 18 years old, I was working at a salon, and the owner came up to me one day and said, 'Your work — it's very messy!'

"Looking back, I was so fortunate to receive that criticism: It made me realize what I really needed. I needed to find a place where I could learn the structure of a great haircut, starting from square one to learn and master technique. Eventually, I could do the work I wanted, but I needed to be a student first and foremost. That one small comment eventually led me to move to New York and become an apprentice at Bumble and bumble."
Photographed by Alyssa Kirsten.
Has there been a moment in your career when you've really felt like you finally made it?
"I try to steer clear of feeling like I 'made it' — I don't think you should define yourself by an achievement, something in the future, or a single event.

"I'm always reevaluating my work as I go along, and I always have a new goal — what I did six months ago is not what I'm doing today, and won't be what I'm doing six months from now. However, I do take stock in those moments when events feel as though they've come full circle. As a kid, I always felt very different from everyone else and very alone. I would watch one show in particular — Jane Pratt — and I knew that there was a place where I belonged, and I would get there. The people on that show were all so different; the subjects were so open and honest. Last year, I was able to meet Jane Pratt and cut her hair. After 25 years, I was able to sit with her and tell her what a profound impact she had on me."
Photographed by Alyssa Kirsten.
How did you get involved with Hairstory?
"I worked with Michael at Bumble and bumble — he has a real gift for seeing talent in people who might not see it in themselves. He has always been very patient and nurturing with me, while at the same time demanding. I'm not sure if he liked my work or not when he first met me, but he saw something in me that could grow if I allowed it to.

"When he came up with the Cleansing Creme and the concept for Hairstory, we started working together and shooting photographs — now, it's a full-time operation with a full team."
Photographed by Alyssa Kirsten.
Tell us about the Cleansing Creme and its benefits.
"You should know, Refinery29 was our earliest adopter! The concept behind Cleansing Creme is the same concept behind our shoots: transformation. Roxie and I transform a person's cut and color, and then the product does the rest.

"Cleansing Creme, because it doesn't have detergent, gives you the best hair you've ever had. You don't have the frizzy, fluffy, nightmare that shampoo used to leave you with — needing countless styling products to make it look good again.

"When you have hair that performs at its optimal state — in its best condition, detergent-free, with all the essential oils working in your favor — its quality is exceptional! And, with exceptional hair, you can create a real shape that can live, without being epically blown out (if blown out at all). It’s a revolution, because its giving people their lives back. Without it, we wouldn’t be creating what we are creating."
Photographed by Alyssa Kirsten.
Is there one cut you're particularly proud of?
"There have been many of them, but I have particular affection for Malory and the bowl-bob I gave her.

"For me, when I was young, there was something magical when I was able to get my hands on a fashion magazine. I'd look at the images and see a world as I imagined it. At Hairstory, we find girls and give them a real look. It's about bridging the gap between the editorial world and the street."

What are some trends you see coming for summer?
"Well, whoever is left using shampoo will give that up. I think we'll be seeing real, unfussy hair. I think the barrel-curled 'beach wave' is gone — it's kind of the hair equivalent of wearing way too much makeup: It can look insecure."
Photographed by Alyssa Kirsten. compared Hairstory to Andy Warhol's Factory. Would you consider that accurate?
"No drugs, more tea.

"I think it's a fair comparison. It's similar in that it's a fantastic space, and there's something ineffable about the energy. There's a real cast of characters that's always coming and going, contributing in different ways — but none of the overwhelming egos that existed at The Factory. We're always trying to do what's best for the model and for each other.

"It's a progressive, enlightened workspace. At any moment, there will be a yoga class in one room, a shoot in the other, and a heart-to-heart around the dining room table."
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