Her BackgroundGonsalves credits her grandmother for fostering the stylists love of hair. The elderly woman taught her granddaughter how to French braid at just ten years old. From then on, the budding stylist became responsible for doing her younger sisters" hair.
I was obsessed with it—every day I would practice braiding and ponytails. Ever since then I became obsessed with any image of hair in plays or movies.
Because Gonsalves’ passion for hair began so young, it didn’t take long for her to go the professional route. At age 15, the New Jersey native got her first job at a hair salon.
“I just folded towels so that I could watch and see what goes into being a hairstylist and I was obsessed with it,” she remembers.
As soon as Gonsalves graduated high school, she took her talents to beauty school. From there, she got licensed and began her career as a professional hair stylist.
One of Gonsalves’ favorite things about working in the hair industry is the ability to find work just about anywhere. The stylist began her career in New Jersey and moved to Philadelphia after several years. In just a few months, Gonsalves plans to make her biggest move yet—across the country to California. Because she likes to have the freedom to move around, the pro stylist has worked at quite a few salons. Luckily, the Gonsalves knows exactly what she’s looking for in the perfect work environment.
“I like to go in and get a blowout to get a feel for the energy in the salon. I love a family-like environment. I like to feel like it’s a team atmosphere, a family atmosphere and everyone learns from each other,” she explains.
Ultimately, Gonsalves wants to work with people who are going to push her to become a better stylist.
“Then I want to know what kind of hair they do, what kind of styles. Will I learn from my peers? Will everyone keep everyone in check and constantly learning? I don’t like to stay stagnant as you can tell because I move every five years. You know, keeping me inspired,” she says.
Gonsalves hasn’t lost her original passion for styling killer braids and ponytails, but over the years she’s developed a new love of hair color. Not just any kind of hair color, either Gonsalves has a unique style she loves to create.
“My specialty color-wise would be natural, sexy hair,” Gonsalves says.“I like to incorporate colors into people’s hair that look best on them, and I use color as a contour because I believe that your hair is your best accessory.”
Her love of sexy hair color is exactly what makes her such a incredible brand ambassador for L’Oréal Professionnel. Gonsalves started working with the brand officially seven years ago, but she’s been using the brand’s products throughout her entire career.
“The first salon I started working at in Jersey was a [L’Oréal Professionnel] salon,” she says. “I’ve always felt connected to L’Oréal because of their ever-changing technologies. They’re always putting out new stuff.”
After so many years working with the brand"s formulas, Gonsalves has identified a few must-haves. She lists L’Oréal Professionnel’s Next Day Hair and the Absolut Repair Lipidium Maskas her all-time favorite hair products.
Her AdviceIn the 15 years since she became a hair stylist, Gonsalves has witnessed the hair industry change immensely.
“It’s so much easier to reach out to people, for people to see your work,” she says. “What I love about social media is a lot of education and pro tips. I feel like it’s changed tremendously in the best way possible.”
While it is much easier to gain exposure in 2018 than it was in 2003, Gonsalves says aspiring hair stylists should prepare themselves for some seriously hard work in the first two years of their career.
“Find a mentor who’s willing to answer every question you ask, who’s going to build you up and not break you down, and give you good constructive criticism at any point in the day,” she advises.
Whether you’re looking for a stylist to educate you or give you killer balayage, Gonsalves can do it all.
Follow Jessica Gonsalves on Instagram @jesstylist1. Book an appointment with her through Facebook Messenger.