When you sit down in your stylist’s chair, it’s likely you know pretty much nothing about them. Maybe you’ve absentmindedly scrolled through a social media page or read a few digital reviews, but you probably don’t have a great sense of their career path up until the present moment.
If you’re in New York City and happen to take a seat in Jasmine Galazka’s chair, not asking about her background would mean seriously missing out. The Shu Uemura featured stylist immigrated from another country, fell backward into hair success as a teenager, and has made a name for herself working at some of the most influential salons in the country—all while raising two kids.
Whether she’s on set or installing extensions at the historic Plaza Hotel, Galazka is no ordinary stylist.
Born in Poland, Galazka’s earliest memories are of two parents who endlessly worked to provide for their family.
Arriving in the United States as a child, Galazka picked up English when the family settled outside of Poughkeepsie, New York. By the time she reached high school, the stylist found herself itching to make the move to New York City and began attending vocational school for cosmetology.
By the time she’d been accepted to the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, a teenage Galazka had landed herself a role assisting at the prestigious Red Door Salon and Spa on Fifth Avenue. It was there her love for hair took hold.
“Being in such a grand, amazing place, the culture of the salon, and just the actual company, I fell in love with it. I stayed there from about [age] 18 to at least 27. It took me a year and a half to get on the floor there.”
Thanks to an in-house training program, Galazka managed to nab herself a coveted chair at the salon. While she loved the work, she began to wish for an experience that was more of the New York City lifestyle she’d imagined. So, she made the jump to Oscar Blandi salon.
“That salon at the time was like the Mecca of if you wanted to be a blonde,” Galazka says. “We were super busy. It definitely helped to build my clientele even more so—the Upper East Side elite and the Park Avenue royalty.”
As her experience grew alongside a desire for greater flexibility, Galaza made the jump to Warren Tricomi salon in New York’s iconic Plaza Hotel. She also landed a role as a platform artist for both Kérastase and Shu Uemura, although she exclusively styles on behalf of the latter these days. She loves the line for its ability to amplify any normal head of hair, turning into the extraordinary on set.
"With Shu Uemura, you can really turn up the volume in how you style the hair—any kind of mohawk shapes or texture,” Galazka says. “It just performs perfectly for me—super editorial, it’s amazing. I’m so in love with the brand.”
For Galazka, working on behalf of a brand like Shu Uemura has been nothing short of a wild ride. In the past four years, the near-constant trips across the country and teaching experience have instilled Galazka with a sense of confidence she may not have found behind the chair at her home salon. She calls the experience “totally inspiring.”
“Public speaking was always out of my comfort zone because English is not my first language,” she explains. “L’Oréal throughout the years has helped me with that so much, building my confidence and utilizing those skills to re-elevate myself. I owe them a lot when it comes to that.”
These days, she teaches Sunday through Tuesday and takes salon appointments Wednesday through Saturday. If it sounds like a lot, the time commitment is worthwhile to Galazka. She doesn’t have set hours every day, enabling her to free up time for relaxation and her family.
Ultimately, it’s those styling appointments that keep Galazka pushing forward in her career. She recounts a recent experience installing extensions for a woman who’d gotten a bob and felt like it had sapped the sex appeal out of her life.
“Just to be able to transform and see the smile in their eyes as the transformation is taking place, especially with something like extensions...you can see the change as it’s happening,” the stylist says. “You can see their energy shift as I’m doing it. For me, that’s so rewarding.”
Like professionals in any career path, even the most talented stylists can start to feel burnout. These little moments keep Galazka refreshed, inspired, and ready to pass on her knowledge.
Like most mothers, Galazka moves through her life and career with an awareness that two sets of extremely curious young eyes follow her every move. For her son and daughter, she wants to be an example of the kind of work ethic her parents embodied.
“Hopefully they’re inspired to work just as hard and to understand that things don’t come easy. You have to be focused and keep that balance to keep it going,” Galazka says.
When it comes to keeping the spark of creativity alive, Galazka also credits her children with reminding her how important time off is.
“The first year with the brands, I was somewhere every weekend,” she says. “Now I can kind of say no to things, and say, ‘OK, I’m feeling a little burnt out. This week is not going to work for me.’ Just knowing to take a couple of days throughout the week off just so you can kind of balance yourself out a little bit.”
When you’ve been at the top of the industry as long as Galazka has, you have an excellent trendspotting view. Although styles fade in and out of fashion, the stylist has seen one aspect of hair styling dramatically shift: the transparency.
“I remember first starting out and doing extensions—people wanted private rooms,” she says. “They weren’t really too comfortable because it was kind of awkward and weird, whereas now people are embracing change. One day you can see someone with super short hair, the next day they have this goddess length.”
In other words, take charge of your personal style. Whether it’s a dramatic crop or a color you’ve never worn before, don’t be embarrassed to try a new look. Celebrities are certainly leading the charge, changing their hair colors every other day with the aid of lace-front wigs.
“I think people are definitely a lot more comfortable with taking the risks and being able to change up their style more frequently than before,” Galazka notes.
On that note, it may be time to call your stylist again. Try something adventurous this time and credit that extra push into the exciting and unknown to Galazka.