Through many years of beauty trials, errors and trends, most of us know what we like and what we like to hide. Sure, you cringe at those photographs with the tight ponies and side bangs. The‘80s triangle-shaped hair? There are entire photo albums that have been burned because of that craze. Then there are those photos that make you stop scrolling for a minute, take a screenshot, and add it to your list of things to try. In the pursuit of exquisite hair, we all turn to the one person we trust to have mastered their craft, stays abreast of the trends and knows our style. Chavie Russell, an unequivocal authority on all things hair, has earned the coveted spot among hairstylist authority.
A small community in Chicago is where Chavie grew up and built her life. Unlike her peers, time after school was spent at her mother’s hair salon. Chavie would watch (and sometimes help with) the process of washing and styling of the customers’ hair. She saw how each client was treated as a friend and no one left without a smile and a new dose of confidence. Another childhood hobby is also in some of Chavie’s fondest memories. “My grandmother and I used to paint together all the time. It was there that I was introduced to the world of colors”. When she came back from seminary in Toronto with a hairstyling course under her belt, Chavie naturally went to help her mother in the salon. It was there that she met Israeli colorist (insert name) and immediately knew what she wanted to do: marry her passion for hair and art. “I loved coloring a long time before it was cool. When people were still wearing one-dimensional wigs, I was experimenting.”
When a woman walks into Chavie Russell’s Chicago salon, she’s treated to the full Chavie experience. From her ever-present enthusiasm to her extensive knowledge of all things related to hair and color, no client has ever lied and said “thank you, I love it” in a high-pitched voice with tears in her eyes. “Whenever I sell or color a wig, I make sure to ask the client for pictures of what they want. That way I can tell them ‘buy this wig because the base color is what you want’ or ‘this wig will give you the cut you want but not the color’. I’ll generally do a strand test to show a client what the color will end up being. At this point, I generally know which brands will do what but it’s still a science experiment. When a wig comes processed from China, a strand test is a must because wigs can turn purple, pink and green” The most important thing for a Chavie Russell girl is to feel good. Women are encouraged to take a wig home and get a feel for it in their every-day lives. Everyone looks good in a salon chair but Chavie wants you to feel good when you leave as well. “I always tell women to come back and tweak their wigs. I include a recut and recolor within three months because I know that even my own wigs need fixing five times before they’re perfect. I make sure we have a no-pressure environment. Buying a wig is not supposed to be hard and scary-you’re not going to the dentist!” Another thing that Chavie emphasizes is not to pay attention to trends but rather, make sure it looks good on you. “Buy and wear what you like yourself in. Just because it’s trending does not mean it’s for you.”
Although her salon is in Chicago, that doesn’t stop Chavie’s work from being worn internationally. “People have sent wigs from Australia, Vienna, China… I have clients that are alopecia and cancer patients as well as religious women and beyond.” Seem like a scary endeavor to shop remotely? “People send me photos and I’ll tell them if it’s worth the money and if I think the color will work. Purchasing long distance is not as scary as people think. You just need to know what size/color you are and exactly what you want. After that, it’s just like buying a dress online.”
Being at the top of her game, Chavie created her own line of wigs ranging from the every-day to the super luxurious. Unlike other non-processed, virgin hair wigs, the Chavie Lux has gorgeous body and top-quality hair. For a more affordable option you can wear every day and feel fabulous in, Chavie has the C line of wigs. They’re processed European hair, color well, and have a flatter top. “I customize and pre-color all the wigs beforehand, so you don’t have to think as much when you’re making a selection.”
As for the next step in the Chavie Russell empire? “I’m working on a website! You’ll be able to build your own wig from the comfort of your computer. It’ll start with basic size and color and move on to length, highlights and so on. It’s launching later this year and I can’t wait! Making people feel beautiful and getting to live my dream is something I’m lucky enough to do every day. This is just one more way I’ll be able to do that.”
Written by Gitty