This week’s #FEMMEFEATUREFRIDAY is celebrity hairstylist Kelly Araujo! This beauty connoisseur is widely known as “The Hair Gypsy”, and is also one of Canada’s most sought out hair experts. This hair guru discovered her talent and passion from years of styling her family and friends’ hair since she was young. Today, this lovely girl is determined to empower women through the art of hairdressing. Kelly sees her profession as an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other women by helping them to take pride in their appearance. We love how grateful Kelly is to be able to make other women feel good about themselves, and it’s so inspiring to see how dedicated she is to bringing self-love and positivity into the world through her craft!

While enrolled in school for marketing, Kelly began working at Toronto’s Innovative Medulla & Co. Salon where she began to cultivate her aptitude for hair. In 2010, Kelly plunged into the world of celebrity hairdressing and had the privilege of working with Breakfast Television Toronto host Dina Pugliese. Later in 2012, Kelly became Dina’s personal hairdresser when she hosted Canada’s Got Talent. During this time, Kelly also worked with award-winning singer/songwriter Nelly Furtado. While travelling all across the world on a press tour, Kelly worked on The Jimmy Fallon Show, The Jay Leno Show, The Wendy Williams Show, and Kelly And Michael. Kelly’s work in celebrity hair styling continued to expand when she found herself in Switzerland in 2014 with Nelly Furtado for the annual ice-skating show Art on Ice. It was there that she met world-renowned Olympic champion Tessa Virtue and Kelly has been her personal hair stylist ever since. Most recently, Kelly styled Tessa for her debut appearance alongside Scott Moir on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Furthermore, Kelly’s creative work and expertise have taken her on major world tours with some of Canada’s finest musicians and has been featured in major media publications such as The Coveteur, Canadian Living, The KIT, Best Health Magazine, HELLO! Canada Magazine, Readers Digest, and Bilde Magazine. That’s not all… When Kelly isn’t styling A-List celebrities, she gives back to her community by mentoring youth in local arts communities and she donates her time to events such as Free The Children’s We Day. What an incredible woman!

Kelly’s kind heart and unique taste are what continue to earn her the respect of endless clients in the media, entertainment and sports industries. Although Kelly has had quite a successful and adventurous career, we admire how real she is about the challenges she’s encountered throughout her journey. Kelly teaches us that the real meaning of courage is to embrace fear and doubt and decide to move forward even when you would rather quit. So, what’s Kelly’s secret to success? Don’t let your current reality weigh you down and remember that everything naturally gets harder before it gets easier. Thank you Kelly for showing us how to celebrate who we are by providing service to others!

Written by Alessia Rotino

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

We all love getting our hair done and refreshing our look every now and then! How has being a hairstylist fulfilled you? Can you tell us how your work as a hairstylist has helped women find confidence in their looks and in loving who they are?

The most rewarding part of my job is the fact that I get to make women feel great every single day of my life. I don't take that responsibility lightly. As women we are faced daily with the pressures of adhering to unattainable beauty standards. I have seen the effects of that on women firsthand, in my clients. I have worked really hard to change the rhetoric around how we speak to and about women about their appearance. When my clients sit in my chair I want them to feel safe, free of judgement, and beautiful throughout the entire process.

As a result, I have been able to build meaningful relationships with my clients and I am very invested in their hair journey. There is not one day that I look at my schedule and feel like there's someone on the list I don’t look forward to seeing. That to me is incredible. That is what keeps me going every day. I truly feel like I am making a difference in the lives of my clients. Being able to help a person build their self-esteem is very rewarding. I take great pride knowing that I empower women to get out there and be their best selves.

A lot of us can relate to the struggle of being in our own heads and can end up talking ourselves out of doing the things we really want to do. What does being fearless mean to you? How did you learn to cultivate your own sense of courage and bravery?

Being fearless is something I am always working on and never feel I’ve fully accomplished. I don't know if I will ever feel like a truly fearless person. I think anyone who works through their fears and chooses to wake up in the morning and continue to push through even when they don’t feel fearless is a courageous person to me. Making the choice to carry on, when all you want to do is quit, is very brave to me. With every day that you choose to move forward even if it’s just in the smallest of ways, you should celebrate yourself.

Tell us about a challenging time in your life? What did you do to overcome it? What did you learn about yourself in the process?

One of the biggest challenges, I would say were my own thoughts on the beauty industry as a whole. The thought of looking at a woman and trying to “fix” her or “make her over,” seemed absurd to me. That ideology did not align with my own values as a human. I loved creating, and I loved working with hair, but I didn't always love the way hairdressers in my industry spoke about the females in their chairs. I decided I would choose to be different. I chose to be careful with the language I use, specifically when describing hair quality. I never want anyone to feel like they are being judged in my chair. I want to create a safe space for women to talk about their insecurities. I want them to feel beautiful, at every stage of the process. To this day that is how I approach every appointment. I refuse to subscribe to this culture of female shaming that the beauty industry has become so comfortable with. It’s a decision I have felt good about every day since. Nothing makes me happier than being able to make people feel great.  It’s something I am very passionate about and take so much pride in.

Did you ever doubt your decision in choosing a non-traditional career? What’s your advice for girls who aspire to pave their own path?

I actually never wanted to be a hairdresser. I studied marketing in college and had every intention of working in that field, but as fate would have it, I ended up where I am today. For the first little while, all I did was regret my choice. I thought about quitting every single day during that time. Looking back, I have no regrets, but I’d be lying if I said the path has been easy. There have been many ups and downs, and lots of nights spent crying on the couch. The best advice I can give anyone would be to never give up. Keep moving forward no matter how bad things may appear because it will get better.

What’s your definition of a YGTGirl?

She is strong, compassionate, and unwavering in her convictions. She’s on her way to the top, and she’s taking her friends with her. She believes in the spirit of community and the idea that we are stronger together. She’s an inspiration to everyone around her.