We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelli Gasaway and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelli, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
When I think about risks, I tend not to focus on the uncertainty of the outcome but instead view them as an opportunity for new experiences that will help me become a better, more well rounded person. Every risk comes with the potential to work out for us or end in failure, but 100% of the risks we take provide the necessary tools to overcome our fears & develop character, courage, confidence, resilience & persistence. In my opinion, developing these traits are some of the greatest gifts life has to offer. Taking risks means we don’t always win but guaranteed we will always gain new perspectives that we can learn & grown from.
I’m not one to shy away from trying something new & I’ve always lived my life in a fearless, “full send” kind of way. I LOVE saying yes to things & getting out of my comfort zone. As a matter of fact, it is engrained in the way that I approach the world. With this perspective, I’ve been able to raise my son as a single teen parent from the age of 16, become self-employed at 23, open my dream salon at just 25, travel solo to several states & countries throughout the last decade & that’s just to name a few really great highlights. This isn’t to say that it’s all been smooth sailing. There will always setbacks & hurdles to overcome but the scariest thing to me is not knowing what would have happened if I never tried at all!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Art has always been a huge part of my life. I’ve been drawing and painting from the moment I could hold a pencil. Around the age of 9 I started teaching myself how to braid hair & absolutely fell in love with it. From then on, I told just about everyone that I would go to beauty school & open a salon someday. I never lost sight of that.
Of course, it was not easy! I graduated high school with a 2 year old son all while working 1-2 jobs at local restaurants. I didn’t know at the time just how proud of myself I should have been because the lens I view the world through is different in retrospect than when I was living it. Looking back with the knowledge & experience I have now, I see a creative, fiery young woman that had the passion & perseverance to achieve anything she set her sights on. In the moment, I was just trying to provide a good life for my son while chasing my dreams & honestly, at times I was just simply surviving.
After graduation, I enrolled in full course cosmetology at Beau Monde Academy of Hair Design. This school really changed my life. It showed me that there are so many directions you can take in this industry & I wanted to take ALL of them! I thought I just wanted to learn hairstyling & practice braiding but every avenue of the industry absolutely fascinated me. I quickly realized that I had a knack for all things hair & makeup, especially haircutting, barbering & the art of creating clipper designs which has been a really fun way to incorporate my love of art into hair!
By the age of 20 I had become a fully licensed cosmetologist & instructor, studied hair abroad in Italy, completed makeup school in Los Angeles & began working on productions. My very first big job was doing makeup at LA Fashion & an episode of a TLC show. Today, I’m 32 & the owner of Kelz Beauty & Barbershop, a successful 9 chair salon where I have worked full time behind the chair for almost 8 years. I compete in hair competitions, have taught hair at Beau Monde & The Art of Makeup School for the last 8-10 years, I continue working in the TV, film, fashion & entertainment industry, & most recently have been traveling & doing hair at music festivals.
What I believe sets me apart from others is that I say yes to as many opportunities as I can & utilize every hair skill that I’ve ever learned. I remain vulnerable by putting myself out there & most importantly, I am ALWAYS creating. I would much rather spend a free day with a hair model who will let me practice a new technique or idea that I have than watching TV or going to a bar. This mindset has opened doors for me & helped me develop amazing connections that I never knew were possible.
All-in-all, the most valuable thing that I’ve learned has been not allowing other people’s opinions impact the way that I make decisions. What success looks like to me is wildly different from what I’ve been suggested to do by others (aside from my wonderful older sister). I have realized that many people are afraid of failure, when in reality, failure is part of the process. There is ALWAYS something to gain from every situation. I don’t see challenges, I see lessons to be learned & chances to gain new perspectives. My highs & lows have paved the most beautiful path of experiences, allowing me to fully explore who I am & the life I am here to live.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
MY BIG SISTER APRIL! She is my sensei, my guru, my life coach, my biggest cheerleader, my best friend & my rock. She has been the most solid constant in my life & has always encouraged me to follow my heart. No matter how wild or big my ups & downs are, she’s always believed in me & makes herself available to listen or offer me genuine advice. When I decided to open a salon, she helped guide me through every step of the process & never doubted my potential for even a second. I don’t know where I would be without her!!
Other: www.instagram.com/kelzbeautycrew firstname.lastname@example.org