Ask any woman about motherhood and you’ll get one near-universal response: balancing a career and the full-time experience of raising a tiny, dependent, perfect little human isn’t for the weak. Now factor in a job like hair styling, which means being on your feet for up to ten hours, bearing the emotional burdens of clients going through divorces, challenges, and self-image crises, and even globe-trotting once or twice a week. If there was an award for most dedicated moms, hairstylist mothers might deserve it.
To get a better sense of what this modern-day juggling act looks like, we spoke to two moms: Mizani pro Reece Brown-Willis, who will give birth to her first child this year, and L’Oréal Professionnel colorist Min Kim, proud mother to a 4-year-old son. Wondering what the world of hair looks like from the mom side of things? Let these two artist tell you in their own words.
Min Kim: The Mom Juggling Work And Play
"I went from having a very independent and selfish life to one now where my son is always the thing that I’m thinking about. I think it’s really important for women to not feel guilty about working because the best thing we can do is to set an example for our children of how everything is possible. Sometimes we have to bring them, sometimes we have to go away, sometimes we’re home late—not to feel guilty about it.
Sometimes we have to bring them, sometimes we have to go away, sometimes we’re home late—not to feel guilty about it.
We work in an industry where there’s a lot of parents and the struggle I see with women is childcare. I thought I had childcare set up [one] day and when it didn’t come through I just brought him into work, knowing that there were going to be all these women at the salon and—even the boys—that would step in. If I had a client or if I needed to make a tutorial, they would take him and keep him happy and occupied. He’s pretty happy. The only thing he wants is for someone to play with him.
The second you become a mother it adds another layer onto everything, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re alone, or you have help, or your family lives with you or next door—it’s all hard. I have this tribe of people—babysitters, coworkers, family—around me, that are always going to be there to play with him and to make sure that he’s safe and I feel good when I’m traveling. I never worry—if I can’t check in with him for a day, I know he’s fine.
I just want him to have his eyes opened to the fact that there’s endless possibilities. It’s about learning different cultures, languages, meeting people, not being stuck where he’s at. If I’m in Paris, I show him the Eiffel Tower and I try to teach him words in different countries that I visit. It’s always trying to bring a piece of something back just so that it creates the hunger and the desire for more."
Reece Brown-Willis: The Mom Setting Expectations Before Birth
"Here in New York City I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of moms and a lot of women in the industry with younger kids, older kids. I always thought to myself, how do they even balance it? It amazes me how they’re able to be on the road and still check in with their kids or work the same hours that I’m working with no kids. They go home and make dinner and make sure everybody’s in bed and those type of things.
I’m due end of August, early September. I’m at a point in my career where things are on the up-and-up and I’m getting calls to do these things and it has been said to me that a kid will slow you down or make you miss opportunities. Growing up for myself, I didn’t even see this as an option.
I hope that my child grows up and looks at me as ‘wow, you can make a lane for yourself.’ Just because it’s not offered to you doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
I hope that my child grows up and looks at me as ‘wow, you can make a lane for yourself.’ Just because it’s not offered to you doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Whether my child chooses the route of the 9-to-5 desk job or decides to go into freelance work, decides to be a hairstylist, it’s limitless. I’m not going to force my child to do either.
There is a lot of power in owning your own and digging deep into a craft that can make you money, where you can both have fun at your job and also make money and establish yourself for the next generation to come. I really hope that my child looks at me and looks at my career path as something that allows you to see that you can make something out of nothing.
Something I’ve learned in this career is it’s never about what got you in the room, it’s what’s going to keep you in the room. You could get in the room because you know somebody or because of the way you look or because of the way you dress, but it’s very important to know yourself, to be prepared, and continue to perfect your craft."
Interviews have been edited for clarity and narrative.