Talking to Leah Freeman for even just an hour leaves you inspired to be better. Better at your craft, better as a spouse, parent or friend, and better overall as a human.
A face of L’anza Healing Haircare, she is its creative team’s color authority as its Global Healing Color Director, explaining even complex color trends, theories and techniques with crisp clarity. She owns Fuse Salon and Spa in Frankfort, Illinois where she also works several days a week as a stylist. On top of that, both at Fuse and elsewhere, she serves as a mentor to many stylists, seeing it as her obligation in giving back to the industry.
Nurturing, intelligent and refreshingly blunt, Freeman really proves it is possible to balance all you aspire to do both professionally and in your personal life.
“I am a woman who has proven to the world that I can travel and own a business and work behind the chair and educate thousands of people and be a mom and be a wife, and do it all—of course with a great support system,” Freeman says. “I think there’s this stigma that because you’re a mom, you can’t do it all. Later in life when she’d old enough to understand, I want to be able to show my daughter why I was on the road, and give her that same opportunity. Don’t let anybody put a ceiling on you.”
Born and raised: Born in Chicago, raised in Flossmoor, IL south of Chicago
What might surprise people about you: I have a secret passion to do nails. I do my own; I love doing acrylics. My mom did nails when I was a kid.
Interesting fact: I figure skated for 13 years.
Best advice received as a hairdresser: Everyone has an opinion. We are people-pleasers, and when someone isn’t pleased that could make or break us. I’ve learned, especially now that I’m older, that not everything I do people are going to like. And, not everything other people do I like, so I have to remember to remind myself I can do the best I can do, and even if some people don’t like it, I can’t let it bother or offend me.
Best advice you can give a younger stylist: Education is key; always continue to educate yourself. There always is someone who can create some influence in your life and give you a different perspective. And, know the way that you do something doesn’t mean it’s the right way. Just because someone might have taught you one way doesn’t mean there isn’t 10 more ways to do it.
How do you want to elevate the industry: Remind our industry how important it is to remain licensed. It’s unfortunate we’re seeing states dipping toward not requiring continuing education when education is key. There is too much that can happen behind our chair or in our aesthetic rooms or in nail salons that can literally lead to death if you’re not careful.
How do you want to leave your mark on the industry: Create a definitive area and opportunities for women. This is a women-driven industry and it’s owned by women, but it’s run by men. I love a good man, don’t get me wrong—I work with two of the best in the industry, Ammon Carver and Matt Swinney—but it’s a reminder it’s a world dedicated to both men and women and there are equal opportunities for both.
Cats or dogs: dogs…I like cats too though, they’re easier.
New York or LA: LA
Smokey eye or bold lip: both
Favorite vacation: This is going to sound so cliché, but when you love what you do, every trip is amazing even if it’s for work. The only unfortunate thing is I can’t share it with my husband or family.
Ideal way to spend a day off: Spend time with my daughter and husband; I have a really great support system and those moments I have with the two of them are the most important moments of my life.
Why is it important to be a mentor to others: I’ve taken for so many people. A common thought most people in our world have is if you have something, keep it, don’t share it—but rather, you should take that one thing you can do and release it, and then find the next best thing. If I didn’t share the things I have learned, I wouldn’t grow.
Favorite place you’ve traveled to for work: Texas is my whole heart for some reason in the country, out of the country Italy
Denim or leather: denim
Chocolate or vanilla: chocolate
Gold or silver: gold
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