We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicole Ybarra and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicole, how do you think about risk?
I view risk taking as a must in this industry. With fashion and hair trends always evolving it is necessary to push boundaries and take risk. When I was an ahtlete my coach told me, “Without risk you will never grow to your full potential.” That is something that has always stuck with me. My first year as hair stylist I really struggled with risk taking though. After pushing past that little voice in my head and trying out new techniques, taking classes, practicing on mannequin heads on days off, and stepping out of my comfort zone, it has opened doors I never imagined. There are days where risk taking sounds terrifying and I question myself. However, I have learned when I stop pushing myself I don’t feel fulfilled with my craft. I am an artist. As an artist you grow most in the moments of discomfort and taking risk.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Being a hair stylist is such a unique art. We don’t apply our art to a normal canvas for it to be hung. Your hair is our canvas and it’s something you see daily. It empowers you and tells others who you are. Being in the fourth largest city in the US can be challenging when it comes to setting yourself apart. I have learned that yes it is important to love your craft and to always learn new techniques to keep up with the trends. But I feel like what sets me apart is having fun, being passionate about everything I do and the connections I make with each client.
When I first started in this industry I never thought I would end up where I’m at today. I grew up in the dance industry. My dream was to move to NYC and dance on Broadway. Unfortunately things didn’t work out that way and I quit after 16 years. In dance I was taught to always give it your all and some. I have carried that with me in every part of my life. So naturally when I started doing hair I gave it my all. I remember sitting in class after the first week of school and feeling extremely defeated. Here I was ready to give it my all only to realize all my classmates were lightyears ahead of me. Some of them were second and third generation hairdressers who grew up at salon or had been doing hair for years. For me, I was picking up shears and a color brush for the first time. But I followed my rule of give it your all and some. I ended up graduating from hair school and landing an amazing job as an apprentice with some of the top stylist in Houston. What I learned from that journey is it doesn’t matter your background. If you have the heart, drive, and passion you can achieve anything you want.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When clients from other states move here I always tell them tacos and a margarita are a must! My current favorite spot is Cantina Barba. While in the Heights check out Eight Row Flint for the best frozen gin and tonic on a hot summer day. For great burgers and beers, Moon Tower Inn is my go to. Of course my favorite places also include the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Natural Science and strolling through Hermann Park afterwards. For night life I love the East End. Some of the coolest places are down there. Check out Cidercade, Neil’s Bahr, Truck Yard, and Secret Group.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have 3 support systems that have built the person I am today.
The first is Mom, Dad and Charles. I have always been extremely fortunate to have parents and a partner that are always in my corner. Without them I would not be where I am today. Thank you for always being my biggest supporters.
The next would be my hair mentors, Liz Haven and Cory Jagneaux. I can never thank them enough for taking a chance on me. I always laugh when I think about my first interview with them. I was sweating and shaking from nervousness. But they saw something in me that I had yet to see in myself. I am forever thankful for molding me to the stylist I am today.
Lastly, Brene Brown. No, sadly I have never met her, But a few years ago I stumbled across her books. Her books the Gift of Imperfections and Daring Greatly came into my life early in my career and was such a great tool. I learned so much about myself from reading her books that it gave me the confidence to becoming the artist I am today.
Facebook: Hair by Nicole Ybarra
Other: Tik Tok @nicoleybarrahair
The photos of me were taken by Charles Jestice.