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Conversations with Hailee Fortuin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hailee Fortuin.

Hi Hailee, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’m Hailee! Known on Instagram as @haileekayhair, I am a pro-educator and platform artist for amika as well as an independent festival/rave hair specialist. I’ve lived in Denver for around four years but I’m originally from Upstate, NY. I earned my cosmetology license through a vocational program in high school, later working in the salon as a vivid color + braiding specialist. I eventually found my way into the festival space and left the salon behind. I am a Behind The Chair festival hair nominee, Modern Salon top 5 Best of the Fest finalist, and (pre-covid) traveled the country to bring my services and expertise to festival and educational spaces of all sizes.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
This question brings a few things to mind. At the forefront is the cultural and historical context around braiding. These kinds of styles have deep roots in black culture. I’ve always viewed my braiding as a fun way to add bright colors into the world of festival fashion, however, I learned to braid from my black peers and am constantly questioning whether it is okay for me, as a white woman, to be doing this kind of work. I have been met with both full support and with opposition from various cultural communities. I have made many mistakes in the along the way, stepped out of my lane, and remained silent for fear of saying the wrong thing. I can say, I am constantly working to ensure my business is inclusive, and actively working against racism. This includes, donating 10% of all proceeds to help fund racial justice and creating a BOCES cosmetology scholarship fund at Schenectady High School to benefit girls who may not otherwise be able to afford to attend this program and receive their license.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I specialize in all things braiding. Specifically, I add colored extensions, yarn, and other accessories to my braids to add dimension and provide longevity to the style. These braids can be protective styles and last anywhere from three to five days making them perfect for a weekend festival! Rave culture is honestly so interesting to me. It’s like you step into another reality. When I was new in the scene and trying to find my place someone asked me, “Well, how silly can you get?” And that really stuck with me. What’s fun about rave culture is that there are no rules. So when creating these styles, I really get to help people step into their truest expression.

How do you think about luck?
I think we get to create our own luck. The universe works for us, not against us. So when it comes to my life and business, I just try to remember than anything I’m going through is preparing me for what I’ve asked for.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Joy Tatum, Melody Sutherland

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