Meet Ash Fortis: Beauty Launchpad 30 Over 30 Winner for 2024

Ash Fortis (@xostylistxo) is an author, stylist and owner of Xo Hair Lab in Chesapeake, VA.
Ash Fortis (@xostylistxo) is an author, stylist and owner of Xo Hair Lab in Chesapeake, VA.
Courtesy of Ash Fortis

We are spotlighting the winners of Beauty Launchpad’s 30 Over 30 contest, sponsored by Denman Brush.

Get to know Ash Fortis (@xostylistxo). She is an author, stylist and owner of Xo Hair Lab in Chesapeake, VA.


Beauty Launchpad (BLP): How did you get your start in the industry?

Ash Fortis (AF): At 19 I worked at a beauty supply store. That developed my interest in hair. At 24, I enrolled in cosmetology school. 

BLP: What is your proudest achievement in the industry thus far? 

AF: I would have to say my hair salon, Xo Hair Lab. It has been a difficult road as a salon owner, but I am proud of the vision, atmosphere and systems we have created and continue to grow today. Salon ownership can often be a role where you get very little praise when things go right and a-lot of the blame when things go wrong, but I believe mentoring is one of the most valuable assets anyone can acquire. 

BLP: What advice would you give to the younger version of yourself just starting out in the industry, looking back on your whole career? 

AF: To get comfortable being uncomfortable. It takes a lot to be successful, and it's important to be intentional, know who you are, what you have to offer and how you can give your clients the best experience, so they keep coming back. 

BLP: What is your current favorite hair trend?

AF: My favorite hair trend will always be bobs. They are classic, and there are so many ways to make it versatile. I personally think they are never out of trend.

BLP: What is a valuable hair tip that you want to share with your fellow stylists (whether it’s a business tip or something related to styling/working with hair)? 

AF: My best tip would be learning the skills of being a great listener and communicator. I believe so much success happens in the consultation and the client experience.

BLP: What inspires your work? 

AF: Nature, fashion and other artists.

BLP: What is something that keeps you passionate and motivated in the industry each day?

AF: I love making people feel beautiful, valuable and connected. I value each client, and I often think of what my client needs from me in that time they have with me. Some of my clients have come and sat in my chair after the most difficult life circumstances, and it feels good to know I can help make a positive impact in their day.

BLP: What changes would you like to see the industry make in order to grow/change/evolve/be better than it was before? 

AF: I think that we need more business and professional development education for cosmetology students. 

BLP: What is a career goal you have for yourself? 

AF: I would like to author more books. 

To see the full list of winners, read Beauty Launchpad's May/June issue.

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