Meet Eric Kelley: Beauty Launchpad 30 Over 30 Winner for 2024

Get to know Eric Kelley (@hairbyerickelley). He is a curl specialist and owner of Eric Kelley Salon in Baton Rouge, LA.
Get to know Eric Kelley (@hairbyerickelley). He is a curl specialist and owner of Eric Kelley Salon in Baton Rouge, LA.
Courtesy of Eric Kelley

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

Get to know Eric Kelley (@hairbyerickelley). He is a curl specialist and owner of Eric Kelley Salon in Baton Rouge, LA.

Q&A: 

Beauty Launchpad (BLP): What is a fun fact about you? 

Eric Kelley (EK): I play organ and piano, and I also have nearly 40 chickens.

BLP: How did you get your start in the industry? 

EK: Interestingly, it was a totally random decision. I was debating between becoming a CPA or hairstylist (two totally opposite sides of the brain, right?!). I checked out the schools for both, and I decided to do hair school. 

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

EK: One of my biggest goals was training with Lorraine Massey, which I’ve done. I also won the first-ever Sola Pro Award for Texture in 2023. Wish me luck for 2024!

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

EK: Take Saturdays off way sooner than 25 years in! LOL

BLP: What is your current favorite hair trend? 

EK: Curls, of course! I am really into the not-so-perfect curly hairstyles – I like a bit of FUNctional frizz to keep it organic. You can’t beat a really strong shape with a touch of disheveled texture.

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)? 

EK: Find your niche. When I first started doing hair, most stylists were expected to do every service – I hated that. I can’t braid or do an updo to save my life! I wanted to style everyone’s hair curly, and I started cultivating that, without any idea that one day it would be 90-95% of my clientele. We are now in a time where you don’t have to do every service, so do what you love, and your work will show it. 

BLP: What inspires your work?

EK: I can’t say that I have one “thing” that really inspires me, per se. I really kind of get into the moment of cutting and styling and roll with it. The ‘80s and early ‘90s hair is always an inspiration. I love big, curly hair! Give me the ‘90s natural curls of Mariah Carey all day, please!

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

EK: Knowing that almost every new guest I see will come to love their natural curls for quite possibly the first time ever – that is a huge boost of self confidence for them that they may have not had previously. 

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

EK: I see a lot of tension and ego trips with stylists on social media – I don’t really understand this. Everyone has their own place and their own role, and no one is above someone else. There’s a client for every style. I think being kind to someone, even when you may disagree with them, will go a lot further than bashing that person. 

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

EK: I would like to improve my photography skills. I love doing photos and am completely new to it, but one of my goals is to improve that area. Getting into education is also something that interests me. 

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

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