One To Watch: Tori Pelfree, L’Oréal Professionnel Artist

Artists You Need To Know About

One To Watch: Tori Pelfree, L’Oréal Professionnel Artist

08 November 2018
photo of stylist coloring hair one to watch tori pelfree
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Emily Arata

Senior Editor, Hair.com

As an employee of L’Oréal, Emily works with celebrity stylists to make finding the right cut, color, or style easier than ever before. She's previously written for Allure, Elite Daily, and First We Feast.

Tori Pelfree leads a charmed life, at least when it comes to the world of hair color. The California native and rising color guru spends her days running her newly-opened salon, teaching other stylists about hair color, and pursuing her passion. To any outsider, Pelfree seems quite a bit like someone who has figured out the perfect way to combine the thing she loves to do with the one that builds her career.

Read on to learn more about Pelfree’s start in the hair industry, her big plans for being a business owner, and the unexpected thing she’s learning now.

Her Background

Born and raised in San Diego, CA, Pelfree’s earliest memories include at-home stying appointments from her grandmother, a retired hair stylist. Armed with shears and a creative eye, Pelfree’s grandmother would set to work while the young girl peppered her with questions about technique. With a start like that, it’s no wonder the hair styling bug took hold.

By middle school, Pelfree was styling the hair of all her friends—more often than not in a school bathroom the group jokingly called her salon. When high school ended, Pelfree had no doubts about her professional next steps. Even then, she showed an older-than-her-age ability to set a goal and execute it.

“I graduated high school at 17 and immediately went to beauty school. I think I was in a salon right when I turned 19,” Pelfree says.

Like most budding stylists, it took some time for Pelfree to find her creative place in the salon world. She worked at two salons, each for a handful of years, and began attending outside classes about color theory. Pelfree, who describes herself as “education-hungry,” remembers having a revelation during a course on red hair colors in 2016 that led to her auditioning for a place on the L’Oréal Professionnel team.

“I was like, this is what I want to do, I don’t care how I’m going to get there,” she says. “I didn’t know how I was going to do it because I previously was not a very good public speaker in any sense of the word.”

Public speaker or not, Pelfree landed the gig. She’s been teaching color in the San Diego and Los Angeles area ever since.

Her Passion

In October, Pelfree and her business partner opened the doors of their new business venture: Blush and Rouge Salon. The “blush” in the name represents Pelfree, who’s well known for her signature hair color.

Although the business operates in a little salon suite, it’s been an opportunity for Pelfree to really push herself in a way she couldn’t while working for someone else’s business.

“I really sat down in March of this year and asked myself what was stopping me [from opening a salon] realistically because it was always like, I would never have enough money for that, or this or that,” Pelfree explains. “Honestly, the answer was fear.”

In her new salon, Pelfree can work on one skill set that comes less naturally to her: cutting. She’s actively taking cutting classes, hoping to build technique and the confidence that comes with it.

Although Pelfree is unlikely to trade her color prowess for the shears full time, she appreciates that it makes her more strategic when it comes to creating new shades for her clients.

“Now that I’m sculpting the haircut around my color, I feel like it’s making me think a little bit differently in where I’m placing it and where things are going to go because I don’t want to, for example, do an ombre and then cut off all the color.”

So what’s next for this rising star? To begin with, she’s spending a whole lot more time teaching. She’ll also continue pushing herself to try the unexpected.

“I think one of my biggest things is not letting fear control you in any way and lifting other people up, even if it’s before yourself,” Pelfree says.

Once you push the fear away, you’re set for success.

Follow Pelfree on Instagram @torilee_colorist. Book an appointment with her at Blush and Rouge Salon in San Diego, CA.

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