At just 26 years old, Daryce Brown-Willis has achieved more than some hairstylists achieve their entire career. You may not know her name, but you’ve certainly seen her styles. The Bronx, NY, native has had her work showcased in various magazines and runway shows.
In addition to having her work showcased in the media, the Mizani brand ambassador was recently recognized at America's Beauty Show in Chicago as the "NEXTgen" (next generation of beauty innovators) and Modern Salon's top 100 game changers nationally for 2017.
Despite all of her accolades, Brown-Willis is still a hairstylist with a singular mission: to create looks that make her clients feel good about themselves.
Given what an accomplished hairstylist Brown-Willis is, it may come as a surprise that she hasn’t been in the game for very long. It’s been just five years since she dropped out of college and ended up in cosmetology school.
Brown-Willis readily admits to not being the kind of hairstylist who dreamed of doing hair their whole life. It took a life-changing event to shape Brown-Willis's future. As she tried to figure out her career early on, a good friend suggested she enroll in cosmetology school. Later that same day, he was stabbed and killed.
“That traumatic experience kind of catapulted me to do something with myself. It being our last conversation and him being someone so near and dear to me. He was like a brother to me,” she says. “I think, wow, how did he know I would even be interested in [hair styling]? It’s about listening to that little voice.”
That push was all Brown-Willis needed to find her calling. Once in cosmetology school, she fell in love with the science behind hair care.
Brown-Willis’s love of hair and science helped her thrive in cosmetology school and it wasn’t long before accomplished hairstylists began to notice her. During a bridal hair competition, Brown-Willis caught the eye of accomplished stylist Pepper Pastor. Impressed, she put Brown-Willis in contact with the assistant vice president of education at Mizani. In 2015, Brown-Willis began her partnership with the brand and the rest is—as they say—history!
Brown-Willis’s dedication to hair care and science is still the foundation motivating her to do hair every single day. While hairstyling is a very fashion-forward and visual career, Brown-Willis is more inspired by the clients she meets every day than the latest trends.
While Brown-Willis is committed to making all women no matter their hair type feel beautiful, she works primarily with clients who have textured hair. Whether their hair is curly, wavy, coiled, relaxed, having beautiful hair is often seen as a sign of womanhood. When you’ve been told time after time that your hair is not good enough, finding a hairstylist committed to bringing out the best in your hair can be life changing.
“It’s how you feel. Hair sometimes expresses your mood for the day. To know that I have a part in making someone feel better about themselves, or feel more beautiful, or feel more confident, or help them make a change because they needed to let go. Whatever the case may be, that’s what really keeps me going,” she says. “Definitely we all love beautiful hair, we love to look at it, but for me it’s a little different than that. It’s about the feelings it evokes.”
If you’re a looking to start a career in hair or are a hairstylist looking to level up, Brown-Willis says her most important piece of advice is really quite simple.
“Always be a sponge and be open to learn,” she says. “There are 50 different ways to get the same end result and you can learn something from anyone. It doesn’t have to be someone who’s been in the industry longer than you or someone who’s done more than you have.”
If you’re just looking for good hair advice from a stellar hairstylist, Brown-Willis has a few gems for you as well.
“When it comes to healthy hair, it starts from the inside. Your hair is not just a random fiber coming out of your head, it’s actually coming from your body. What you put into your body is what’s going to come out. If you’re trying to achieve your healthiest hair, you need to take a look at everything that you’re doing,” she says.
If you’re looking for a hairstylist that is just as dedicated to making sure you have healthy hair as she is to giving you a killer haircut, Brown-Willis is the one you’ve been looking for.
Follow Daryce Brown-Willis on Instagram @styledbyreece. Book an appointment with her at Broome Street Society in New York, NY, by calling 646-918-7837.