We had the good fortune of connecting with Desi Houghton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Desi, why did you pursue a creative career?
I got interested in aesthetics at a young age, I would hair model for Toni and Guy as they used to have an academy in Long Beach. I was about 13. I knew I was meant for the arts and was torn between beauty or fashion. Coming from a single parent home, beauty school funded through Pell grants made it attainable. I was fortunate to graduate both high school and beauty school by 18. Being able to start my career so young and debt free was truly an advantage.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a stylist, I don’t kid myself thinking I’m the best that ever worked behind the chair. I do beautiful hair, that part is easy. What really drives my art and challenges me is a deep desire to externally manifest my clients’ inner beauty. I feel that is my most sought out service – releasing the energy of inner beauty. My journey was never going to be on the straight and narrow. I’ve had peaks and valleys, sometimes i’ve been lucky and gotten to coast here and there. My first decade in the industry was spent learning that I didn’t have to burn things down when I got bored and needed change. Once figured out, I was able to channel that energy into a pivot, the beauty industry has a huge umbrella of opportunity. I’ve run an international educational program for a product line (how successfully is up for debate lol…I was very young), worked on set in TV and fashion as both a stylist, and at times, “on air” talent for morning news beauty segments and a hair reality show, won awards. All of these varied experiences led me to the here and now: working solo in my plant filled studio by the ocean. It was so important to me to have a space that has energy attuned to my own. The pandemic has made my private environment a comforting respite of self care. I am grateful to be ever growing and learning in this industry that I love.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
As your unofficial tour guide of long beach, let me just start with, I love this city! Now, lets kick off our weekend right! Friday night: were heading to Hotel Maya’s Fuego restaurant for its beautiful view of some notable features; Shoreline Marinas Copenhagenesque vibes, the “allegedly” haunted Queen Mary, the underwater scape wrapped Arena by artist Wyland, Parkers Lighthouse, and the newly reimagined Aquarium of the Pacific by Frank Gherry. The view is unparalleled. Hotel Maya has a special place in my heart; its where my parents spent their honeymoon and as a tribute, i celebrated my 30th birthday there, truly a hidden gem for a round of drinks at sunset or a staycation. Saturday: brunch at Wild Chive, the hottest vegetarian spot in town. I have a wicked sweeet tooth, so I’m always on those griddle goodies. Pro tip: try their killer stuffed french toast! We’ll stroll to the new dog area at Bixby Park and let the pups run amok, were a very dog friendly city! Next lets hit the stores at Retro Row. I grew up hanging at Portfolio coffee, spent countless hours sifting through pile sales at La Bomba, and worked at the rock & roll Salon Pop for years. 4th st is a rich LBC cultural spot and I love to show it off. Meow has one of a kind finds and Hobo Jane Boutique keeps me in the latest trends. We need a break! Lets head to The Art Theatre for a matinee. Pro tip: buy a bottle of wine next door at Art Du Vin and take it in, they even give you glasses and cork it for you! Saturday night you can find me at Alex’s Bar in Zaferria district listening to live music and dancing into the wee hours. WAKE UP its Sunday: last day for a fun day. We hop on our bikes ( we love biking, just make sure to lock it up! ha ha) and head to Yoga on the Bluff, a free community offering that happens everyday at 11am overlooking our beautiful beach and cool mid mod oil rig islands. Fun fact: they were designed by a famed Disneyland architect. We’ve ommed ourselves into a blissful state, lets ride the wave and head to Horny Corner at Alamitos Bay. We’ll lay out and splash around in the shallow waters. We pedal through Belmont Shores 2 nd street on our way to the Long Beach Museum of Arts, tons of restaurants and shops to keep you entertained. A few years back POW WOW partnered with the museum and started hosting events here, it’s the reason we have rad murals all over by world renowned artists. A great way to spend a day is to bike around and see as many as you can, Its the weekend wind down but we’re not done yet. We want a chill spot to relax, to end our time on a content high note. So we grab an outdoor table at District Wine in the arts district. Super friendly staff, great wine, appetizers, and happy hour. Its a weekend staple for me. A few doors down ReCircle Home has all your woo woo needs covered, I can’t walk by and not go in. Ok, IM TIRED, its time for you to go. One last recommendation though!!!! Take our new cable stayed Gerald Desmond bridge out of town, a modern marvel, look around, dig the industrial scape of the Port of LA. Thanks for hanging and see ya next time!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Lois Maxine Francis Kisner, is my shout out. She was a product of the great depression. Her spirit of resilience was borne out of necessity. She taught me that resilience is a skill, not a trait. Like any other skill, it must be practiced. Throughout my 22 year career, it has been that lesson that has carried me faithfully. She led by example that which I strive to emulate. With each new challenge I face, I gain a deeper understanding of the lessons she taught. This year has given me plenty of practice. Thank you, Grandma.