Lacy Redway knows exactly what her role in the hair and beauty industry is: To trailblaze for stylists that look like her. To show them what’s possible.
“I didn’t grow up seeing many people who looked like me [in the industry],” Redway tells Sweet July. “I’m grateful to be in this position to represent Black women and to not allow the industry to place me in the box. We’re so multifaceted; we can do everything.”
How have your heritage and upbringing inspired your passion for hair and beauty?
Lacy Redway: I remember growing up, every Sunday, my sister would wash my hair and prep it for the week. She would do what we call bantu knots (in Jamaica, we didn’t call it that). She’d do that to both stretch my hair and to lock in the moisture before doing additional styles for the week. I would get what we called bubbles, which in America we call barrettes. So, from a very early age, I understood the importance of prepping your hair for a style. I didn’t realize until later on that I always had some sort of hair experience in my life. After that, it was coming to America and being able to do hair for kids at school. I started out the same way—braiding hair the same way my sister would braid my hair. That experience of getting my hair done regularly on Sundays helped me learn the patience of sitting to do my own hair. I became my own hairstylist first. I like how that shows up in my work; I am always inspired by the things of the past, whether it’s things that I’ve experienced in Jamaica or in African culture.
“I think education is so important. I continue to be a student; I continue to learn what’s out there. I like to push the boundaries of what hair is capable of.”
You work with clients with various hair types and textures. How do you ensure you’re tailoring the hair experience to meet the needs of each unique client?
LR: Part of how I am able to tailor haircare for anyone that I work with, no matter the hair type, is just being knowledgeable about the products that I use. I’ve been so blessed in my career to work with multiple brands. At the moment, I serve as a brand ambassador for four different brands and they speak to so many different types of hair. I work with Shea Moisture, I work with Dove Hair, I work with Tresemme and I work with Nexxus. I have access to so many different products to tailor specifically to all the women I get to work with.
I also think education is so important. I continue to be a student; I continue to learn what’s out there. I like to push the boundaries of what hair is capable of. That’s where I’m able to show the art in hair, where I’m able to challenge what we were told our hair can do. It’s always a collaboration for me with clients. I don’t want you to just sit in my chair. I get to know you, I get to understand who you are as a person. And I try to implement that in your hairstyles.
You’ve also advocated for greater representation by working with The Sims to showcase more inclusive hairstyles within the video game. Can you speak more about this?
LR: That was such a dream experience. I’m a mom. So being able to provide my son with better options in the video game space is a dream. I’m not a gamer, so I didn’t realize until that partnership how limited Black hairstyles in gaming is in 2023. I’ve had gamers say they’re so happy to have more access to putting their characters together the way they want to see them. Being able to have that additional element in my portfolio is amazing. I’m excited to explore more in the gaming space. I feel like all characters need more access to better hairstyling. Sometimes, artists don’t necessarily know how hair is supposed to flow. It’s more challenging than you would think to design hair in video games because there are restrictions, but I’m excited to push that technology. Maybe there’s more that needs to be developed to allow for more fluid movement and for more Black hairstyles in that space.
In these summer months, what are some of the top hair trends you’re seeing?
LR: I think, right now, for women with textured hair we’re definitely leaning into braids. It’s really hot, global warming is a real thing. Naturally, women with textured hair, when it gets warm, we braid up our hair to give it a break so we don’t have to put so much stress on it. I’m seeing a lot of bohemian braids and dreadlocks happening at the moment. I have some braids at the moment myself. I love to see the different styling that women are doing with their braid work. I’m inspired by people that I see on the street when I travel to places like New Orleans for Essence Fest.
I’m also seeing a 90s bouncy blow-out resurface, which I think we’ll see more of in the fall and through 2024.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.