Elina O’Connor grew up in the beauty biz. Her parents, Luke and Rona O’Connor, own Lukaro Salon in Beverly Hills where Rona is a celebrity colorist and Luke, who has worked in television for years, cuts hair. “Our house was by no means normal,” says Elina, who remembers coming home from school on occasion and finding her parents orchestrating an elaborate photo shoot in the living room. “They’d be making up icons like Brooke Shields, which was so glamorous to me. I’m an only child so a lot of the time I got to be part of the action. When I was nine, I got to dress up like Xena Warrior Princess in a dress from the set. It was awesome.”
Elina admits that she always knew she’d never have a career sitting at a desk. “I think my body would have rejected it,” she says with a laugh. Despite the fact that she admits that “I had my hands in hair and makeup since I was a kid,” Elina didn’t go to beauty school right away. Instead, she studied hospitality at the University of San Francisco where she made up her closest girlfriends before they went anywhere on the weekend. “It came naturally to me to want to make someone feel pretty and good about themselves,” she says. Finally, after moving back to Los Angeles, she had an epiphany while her mother was coloring her hair and just knew that she should go to beauty school. After graduating in 2011, she began working for her parents.
So when did she know she’d made it? “The day my mother passed along a client for me to do for a production,” she says without hesitation. “I had to give an actress blue tips, but not just any shade of blue. They wanted denim blue.” After formulating with Goldwell Elumen, Elina painted the tips and fanned out the color before teasing the top layer to create a powdered effect. “It may be hard to visualize,” she says, “but boy did it look awesome. I was so proud, and eventually I’ll get to see what I did on the big screen.”
When the opportunity arose for her to relocate to Nashville, Elina jumped at the chance. Her parents have a few celebrity connections there, which they hope will open a few doors for their daughter. “We’ve known the Orbison family for years, and Reba McEntire was a client of one of our stylists at Lukaro,” says Elina, who plans to freelance and continue to work with celebrities in the way her parents have. “I’m still finding my way, but I hope to bring a bit of California sunshine and Lukaro skill to Nashville,” she says. With her pedigree, it’s only a matter of time.
Seiji Yamaguchi—her name means “spiritual one”—was named after a Japanese hairdresser her father, Billy, and mother, Melissa, knew when they were young, so maybe becoming a stockbroker or a math teacher was never in the cards for her. Her parents own a salon at the Four Seasons in Westlake Village, CA. Her father created the concept of Feng Shui Beauty and even wrote a book on the subject. Her mother is CEO of Yamaguchi Lifestyle. Two years ago at the tender age of 13, Seiji started her own makeup line called The Seiji Collection. “My skin has been sensitive my entire life, and most makeup made me break out in a rash,” she says. “I wanted a clean makeup line free of detergents, sulfates and perfumes that wouldn’t make my skin react.”
At first, when her daughter announced that she wanted to start her own company, Melissa wasn’t sure how serious she was, but she fielded questions about the products she and her husband developed and sold in the salon. Finally, she agreed to put up half the money for an initial order, but insisted that Seiji invest her own money in the line and be involved in every aspect of production. One of the first decisions she made was to donate a percentage of her net profits to Ocean Champions, the first political-advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the ocean and its wildlife. “The summer before I started my company, I had to do a school project about charities, and that’s how I learned about how polluted the oceans are,” she says.
The Seiji Collection includes four different shades of foundation—“My skin can get really light in the winter and then really tan in the summer, and I wanted a foundation to go with my changing skin tone,” Seiji says—as well as eye shadow, lipstick and lip gloss, mascara, eyeliner
and brow powders and pencils. Initially, her parents sold the line at
their salon and on their e-commerce site. Seiji also uses Instagram
(@theseijicollection) and Facebook (theseijicollection) to promote her products. She’s also working on a dedicated website, which should get
a lot of viewers now that she’s blogged about what it’s like to be a 15-year-old entrepreneur for The Huffington Post. Say what?
“Arianna Huffington came into the salon one day and asked me about the makeup we carry,” says Melissa. “When she learned that my teenage daughter started the company, she asked her to write something for her so young people would see that age has nothing to do with starting a business.” Seiji’s blog, “Who Says I Have to Wait on My Life?” was published in August. In order to devote more time to her business, Seiji talked her mother into letting her take online courses instead of attending high school full-time this year. “She wore me down,” sighs Melissa. “Kids can be relentless, you know?” Maybe that’s a good thing when you’re a 15-year-old running your own company.
Tuesday Teal manages the eponymous salon her parents, Ryan and Deannalyn Teal, own in Portland, OR. “It’s been called the coolest salon in Portland,” says Tuesday with obvious pride. Just 23, Tuesday has become a darling of social media with nearly 3,000 followers on Instagram (@tuesdayteal). She’s also the official photographer for thehairnerds.com, the website two of her hairdresser friends, Erin and Carrie, started as a way of sharing their passion for hairdressing.
“I use a Nikon 3100. It’s a really old camera,” says Tuesday. “The buttons are worn off, the body is so sad, but I take it everywhere. Right now I’m saving up for a new one.” Tuesday came by her love of photography naturally. “My parents have been doing photo shoots ever since I was little. I’d get super bored and sit on the floor in front of the photographer and start directing the models. They’d go, ‘Tuesday, get out of here’ because I’d ask why they wanted someone to pose a certain way when it made them look ugly. I’ve got a real thing for composition.” Her pet peeve? “I can’t stand it when people don’t crop their photos properly. Either they don’t crop when they should or they crop incorrectly. It drives me crazy.”
Tuesday began posting her work on Instagram while she was still in beauty school. “I didn’t know how to use Twitter, and I wanted to post photos of what I was doing in class. I wasn’t thinking about getting followers,” says Tuesday, who, like many kids who grew up in the digital age, tends to believe that something hasn’t happened if it’s not documented. “It’s like, unless you have a video, who will believe that you really went skydiving?” She followed that same line of reasoning when she went to trade shows and met someone important. “It was like, here’s the picture to prove that I really met this person at a show,” she says.
Like a lot of kids whose parents run a family business, Tuesday wasn’t sure she wanted to follow them into their line of work. “Oh, my gosh, I didn’t always like doing hair,” she says. “I was in the salon forever and felt like a guinea pig. Someone was always saying, ‘Hey, can I try this braid on you?” or ‘You should comb your hair.’ I wore dreads in high school by the way.” Getting her cosmetology license was a backup plan, something to do until she figured out what it was she really wanted to do. Then to her surprise, she fell in love with doing hair, especially when she was allowed to participate in photo shoots. “I was assisting on set or helping with wardrobe or choosing models or doing anything they’d let me do,” she says. “Then I started doing hair and photography on set. It was fun stuff, less like work and more like what I’d do on weekends for free.”
Meanwhile, she continues to document the comings and goings of the Hair Nerds, which now includes an intern named Annie. It’s a job that’s been described as “long hours, no sleep and three hair nerds demanding to be magically thinner with the click of a camera button.” Want to make Tuesday’s day? Be sure to “like” her on Facebook and check out her photos at hairbrained.me.—Marianne Dougherty