I have a very adventurous attitude when it comes to my hair (what little I have left) in the sense that I show up with an image or two for inspiration and then I let the stylist do their magic. You wouldn’t tell an artist how to paint a work of art, would you?
You can supply inspiration, of course, but how they get to the end result is really up to them and their skills. The same goes for stylists. Being able to interpret my creative requests and render results that always makes me leave Scar with a smile and sense of awesomeness is why Leandi Esterhuizen has been cutting, colouring and styling my hair for a few years now.
Now, it’s been a while since I interviewed any Cape Town talents for my IAMO (I am online) blog, and I could not have chosen a more fun interviewee to ease me back into things. As we sat down at Fat Cactus on Park Road, our chosen interview spot for its great Mexican food and quiet corners for recording, a round of Gingerbread Tequilas was ordered – the most delicious way to start every interview in my opinion.
What inspired you to become a hair stylist?
I was always very fascinated with anything that was hair related. Whether I was playing with my dad’s hair or my dolls’ hair. My best friend was a mop when I was growing up. One day, I was straightening my friend from high school’s hair, and she was like “you should totally become a hair stylist”. And I was like, “yeah, okay!”
I went on to study at the Serwalo Hair Academy in Pretoria for 1 year, but found that it was important to work in a good salon to get more practical experience. I was effectively studying, apprenticing and working all at the same time.
Can you remember your first styling session? How was it?
Well, there was the time when I cut my mom’s hair in a mullet by mistake. Haha. That was when I thought I could do hair. She wasn’t very happy, but I was stoked about my first style session.
But, my first real styling gig was probably when I was 18 or 19. It was with Paul Mitchell where I did a show on stage. It was a very long time ago. I felt fucking cool! I was obviously nervous. It’s nerve-wrecking when you feel everyone is judging you, but on stage when you’re in the moment, it just goes away.
What 3 characteristics, in your opinion, does every hair stylist need?
- People skills – You need to be able work with and talk to people on a human level, especially to avoid those awkward silences during a long styling session.
- Style – You should know what is pretty and what is not pretty, what suites people and what are the latest trends.
- Product knowledge – You need to know what you’re doing when you recommend or use styling products. What works for one client, may not work for another.
If you could travel back in time, what one piece of advice would you give your younger self?
When I started my career, I didn’t take it very seriously, and I wish I did.
If I could go back, I’d tell myself to wake up and commit more. I started my career when I was 16, so I was still young and wet behind the ears. I just went to work to make money, not because I was passionate. Scar was really an eye opener for me, where I saw that I could have been much further in my career, much more experienced, if I didn’t fuck around so much.
What are your top 3 favourite spots in Cape Town?
- Van Hunk – It’s our local hangout spot. The people that go there are so chilled and it’s nice going to a place where they know you. It’s always a jol and there’s no judgement there.
- Gorgeous Goerge – I’ve only been there once, but I feel it could be one of my favourites. It’s such a nice spot if you want to spoil yourself to a nice city breakfast or dinner. Beautiful venue, incredible food, and usually there’s a DJ from 2pm.
- Clay Cafe – You can go and paint clay pots, plus you can get a good vibe going there. Some drinks, food and clay painting. Lots of fun to be had. You can paint a cup, bowl or vase. You get a bunch of paint and décor stuff, they bake it for you and you get to keep it.
If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would you choose and why?
My dad. I love him and he’s such a beautiful soul. He’s positive about everything and he’s so inspirational with regards to what he went through and how he got back on his feet and saved his family. He is just such an inspiring person. My family is my everything and I’m very privileged to have such great parents.
What are your future career plans?
I have been asking myself that question for a while now. “What’s next?”
I’m still struggling with it and it’s a hard question to answer. I’m thinking of moving to London in the next two years. I don’t know what I’m going to do there or where I’m going to live, but I do feel that the hair styling industry is better that side. I can learn and experience more, to build my skills and become a top stylist.
Your vote: beer or wine?
Beer! I only drink wine to get drunk and then I switch to beer.
After tackling the regular “get to know Leandi” questions, our food arrived and we started to dig into some hearty nachos and pulled pork quesadillas. Plus a few more rounds of that amazing Fat Cactus Gingerbread Tequila.
Leandi went on to explain the daily ins and outs of being a Scar hair stylist; the early mornings, late nights and epic client expectations. Not to mention the demanding social life to ensure your networking stays up to date in this competitive industry. Being a Cape Town stylist is no joke, but Leandi loves it and she’s always ready to try out new wild styles whenever I show up. I can’t wait for my next appointment!
Want to book your own styling session with Leandi? Visit the Scar website or give them a call at (021) 422 5900 to place your booking. You can also follow Leandi on Instagram to check out her latest styles (and fun outings in Cape Town).
Text: Andy Moller
Answers: Leandi Esterhiuzen
Photographs: Andy Moller and Leandi’s Instagram