Written by Murie Gillett, Rochester Brainery Intern
From Rochester to the runway and back again! Erica Stoy is a local hair stylist who finds her roots in Rochester but moved out to Los Angeles to hone her craft. There, she fell in love with creating hair styles based around braids from the simple to the intricate.
Tell me more about yourself and your business!
I have been doing hair for about 13 years. I started out doing hair here in Rochester before I moved out to Los Angeles. That’s where I really honed in on my craft of braiding. I used to do a lot of photo shoots and I worked at fashion weeks for a salon I used to work at out in California. I was able to learn braiding and styling there in a way that I couldn’t learn [in Rochester].
When I came back to Rochester, I really wanted to be able to teach that to others. I really love teaching. After the studio, I worked for myself out of Divine Hair. I used to work at Scott Miller, but when I came back from California I actually started my own wedding business so I would do hair for weddings and the wedding party. Because I was working for myself I had the flexibility of doing the weddings, working in the salon, teaching at the Brainery; and actually just recently too, I started giving braiding lessons at the salon: one on one braid lessons for people who aren’t necessarily able to make it to the classes. It’s nice working for myself.
How did you first get interested in working with hair?
In high school actually, I went to BOCES for my junior and senior year. My counselor suggested that I go to a vocational school. That’s how I got my hair licence; when I graduated from high school, I had my license.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
From other hairstylists. Most recently, I would say Instagram. I follow other celebrity hairstylists that have styled hair for magazines or fashion. I also have other inspiration on Instagram too, just fellow hairstylists like me who post their work. I use pinterest a lot too, but that’s not too specific. Other hairstylists mostly, it really inspires me to see what they’re doing.
What is your favorite thing about styling hair?
It’s kind of fun being able to transform someone’s look, but also making them feel good.
You’ve done a lot of high fashion and magazine events, what is the biggest differences between those events and the work you do at your studio?
A lot times when you’re doing that type of work, you’re creating a look that they’ve asked you to do. In the salon, clients tell me what they want but I am able to use my imagination more. When you see photo shoots or Fashion Week, there’s usually someone in charge who says, “Here’s the inspiration, here’s the clothes, here’s the look that we’re going for." So you tend to have to adhere to a specific look when you’re doing those types of things.
Do you have a favorite hairstyle or event you’ve created?
Most recently, I worked with the Memorial Art Gallery and they had a Mad Men event called Mad MAG. I went there and I styled beehives without any hairspray for three hours. I did 28 people and I had so much fun! That would be the most recent thing I did.
As for photo shoots and the stuff I did in California, it’s funny because some of the bigger jobs I did were not really that exciting hair-wise. It was often like, “Here, make their hair pretty.” I did work on Top Model Norway and I did get to do the host of that Top Model, the Norway version. I got to do the hair of Siri Tollerød, she’s a famous supermodel. She was the host and I would do her hair. Usually, she was just wanted me to make her hair look pretty, but I remember one day, they finally caught on that I like to do braids, so they were like “Okay, do something that you want!” so I braided her hair into a crown braid. That was kind of the highlight.
What’s special for you about braiding?
I guess it’s a fun way to dress the hair; it can look really intricate. It can also be a really nice everyday look. It can be dress-up or dress-down or really high fashion. I really like that it’s so versatile.
Erica Stoy teaches classes regularly at the Brainery. Her next class is July 11, from 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM. After that, she will be headed onto maternity leave, but is excited to continuing teaching classes in the fall!