Amber Elson is revolutionizing the curly hair scene as a freelance stylist and an undergraduate student at SUNY New Paltz.
“My experience inspired me to never allow women to feel the same way I did,” said the young entrepreneur, Amber Elson, who’s 20 and a sophomore at SUNY New Paltz. Elson took matters into her own hands after a botched curly haircut left her feeling insecure and hopeless in April 2018.
Out of the 12 hair salons in the town of New Paltz, none of them specialize in curly cuts. Serving a campus that consists of 38% students of color, Cuts By Ambeezy is essential in meeting the needs and demands of students who do not have that many local resources in a predominantly white town.
It all started when she posted her very first client on her Instagram profile named LetsTalkCurly.
“Over the summer in 2018, my mom was my first client. When I posted the before and after photos on my account, the amount of positive feedback was nonstop…people were so amazed. It was so interesting to see how impressed my followers were about different hair textures” said Elson.
Aside from posting her cuts, the young entrepreneur also uses her platform to promote curly brands and publish content that will give tips on how to treat and style natural hair. That’s today, though.
Before she was going to start working on other curly heads, Elson had to evaluate herself. As a biracial woman, she realized that, to her, wearing her hair straight was adopting an inauthentic persona; Elson decided then that going on a natural hair journey was the best way to go. Three years ago she stopped relying on hot tools to straighten her hair.
After an eight-week introductory course, Elson learned the necessary, basic skills to cut and style other people’s hair while she practiced on a total of 100 mannequin heads. Since then she’s been learning in the field while running Cuts by Ambeezy.
It all took flight when Elson received her first booking at SUNY New Paltz in the fall of 2018. Students did not really know about Elson’s business, yet after her first on-campus client flaunted her haircut all over Instagram, Elson was looking at two to three bookings per week.
In no time she was running her own underground salon from her dorm room. A year and a half after that first client, Elson continues to revitalize student’s hair from her home off-campus.
Compared to competitors such as DevaChan Salons owned by DevaCurl, Elson’s hair styling services are significantly cheaper. While a DevaCurl transformation ranges from $95 to $200 dollars, a curly cut by Ambeezy does not surpass $70, which includes a two-hour session with a detailed cut according to their unique curl pattern and a styling session.
As a college student who understands how difficult it is to struggle financially, Elson’s goal has always been to run a business that leaves her clients’ hair looking healthy and fabulous at an affordable price. Returning client trims are priced at $55 for two hours. Separate styling sessions are also offered based on hair texture for $30.
During a typical appointment, the first and most important step is discussing the client’s hair goals. This is Elson’s way of getting to know her clients and establishing trust.
“She bases the way she cuts your hair by the shape of your head, so she knows what’s best for you,” said Pamela Matos, who’s one of Elson’s regulars. “Her customer service is outstanding because she makes her clients feel comfortable and welcomed.”
After Elson gets a feel of what clients are looking for, she begins to trim the hair dry according to each curl pattern. Once she has cut off all the dead or split ends, she proceeds to shampoo, if necessary, and then condition. Elson then detangles the hair and lets it air dry for 20 minutes; then she styles using leave-in conditioner, curling cream and a diffuser. Once a client’s hair is fully dry, she runs her hands through the client’s hair and shakes until desired volume is reached.
“My favorite thing about what I do is seeing the smile on my clients’ faces once they see the change in their hair”, said Elson. “Giving people hope and showing them that their hair is capable of reaching its full potential is priceless.”
Amber aims to keep impacting the New Paltz community with her work for as long as she is an undergraduate. In the two years that she has left at the university, she looks forward to continuing to help bi-racial and diverse individuals like herself to find confidence and comfortability in their natural hair pattern.