The Cut Life Podcast
The Cut Life Podcast

Episode · 4 years ago

Ep. 9 - Derek J


Derek J discusses his journey as a hairstylist from salon owner to being in front of the camera (Bravo TV's "Fashion Queens")and lessons he's learned in that arena, to being on set styling for BET's TALES. Derek J is also responsible for Tamar Braxton's pixie cut on the cover of UPSCALE which he believes encouraged her to go for the Big Chop!

Hey everyone, welcome back to the cut life podcast. It's your host to hear, a joy, and, as always, I'm in the studio with my big Homie, big men. He's actually are you in the mic today? Are you okay? He's in the background. He's in the background. I try to get him on the MIC sometimes, but anyway, today this is how you know someone is your friend, when you text them the day of and even though they are busy as ever and tired as ever, they still agree to do it. Derek Jay is on the line today. Hi Derek, hey argue, I am amazing. The weather is starting to break, even though, well, we're in Atlanta, so the weather is breaking, but I saw that it might get cold again this weekend, so I'm a little hope. That disappointed, but it feels like spring today, so I'm in a very good mood. Good. Yes, so, Derek, I have a following your career for quite some time and when I was thinking about this interview earlier today, I was like, you are the master of transition and continuing to evolve, because you've done it all, from being in the salon to working with celebrities, to being on set to being talent yourself on set and it's just been such an amazing journey just watching how your career has continued to evolve and it's like I don't think you sleep. But I wanted to kind of go back to the beginning because I think a lot of people do know you from television and they know you in and a run Atlanta and you know globally from all of the work that you do, but I don't know how many people actually know your story and how you got started in the hair industry. Okay, well, I got start in the hair industry because my aunt did here and she used to hear at her home, so I used to watch her do hair and looking at how a woman physical transformation is affected her emotional transformation was something that I really really want to be a part of. Like I'm just like wow, I mean just making a woman feel beautiful just changed her whole outlook on her day she was having a bad day, if she was going through some of her man or if he just wasn't filling up to being the best woman that she could be, just changing her hair made her become just this better person, even just for that day or for that moment, for that week, but it was just something special about being able to do that for a woman I know I want to be a part of. So I was like, I'm want to hear school. My mother is. She's a police officer, which is a real nine and five ladies. She's like, Hair's not a real job that, you know, we're just going to do when you were hire, all that stuff parents talk about. So I snucking went to here school and wow, I was coming her. I was going to make that work in McDonald's every day when that was really going to hair school and and I pay for myself. And, you know, went through here school and got my license and was like all right, deuces, and I moved from Ohio to Atlanta. That is real determination, Derek. Yes, the people listening are getting that, because you didn't let and that's the thing. You know, our parents mean well, but sometimes they can come from just a different school of thinking, a different generation in time. And you know we're moving into that time of, you know, entrepreneurship, and we were at the beginning of that and I think that there was this miscommunication like, oh no, you're supposed to go to college and get a job and that's what you're going to do so. The fact that you had that initiative and ambition to do that without the support of anyone but yourself says a lot. And, of course, God looking over you. And so you decide to move to Atlanta, which Atlanta,... we know, is one of the hair capitals. Like there is a salon on every corner. Everything's everyone is a hair stylist. Yeah, so how have you carved out your niche and maintained the longevity with your clients? Hell, just considering how competitive a market Atlanta is. Well, you have the crazy thing, like when I when I talk to people about the hair industry, my goal was never to be on television. My goal was never to do celebrities. My goal was always just to be the best hairstyles I can be. That's that's all my goal was. It was like, let me do, let me just do whatever, any piece of work that I put out into the world, let me make sure this is the best work that I could produce, and I think that that being my focus, has always prevailed me, amongst other things. Like you know, I think the might my intention is always just pure from the fact that I just wanted to give you with my best work as. I'm not doing this because I want to get new slept me client, I'm not doing this because I want to do another ad campaign, I'm not doing this for any other reason. But I just want to be my best thing and I think that's what happens with a lot of hairstylens, or do people in any industry? They have a different focus and if the focus, they have a different focus for they try to mask it behind what they think sounds good, if that makes sense right. Like, you know, if you wanted to be on TV show, you want to be on TV. Shaw. You doing this up to be on TV and go be on TV. But let's night say, oh no, I really care about because you don't like don't make the funk, as they would say, the far yes, don't think the phone as if this is what you want to be. Just go out and do what you want to do with just do with it. But I think that we can't, I can't am along as far as well, what I when I moved to Atlanta, which I tell people anytime you want to move, if you're young and still go to college, go to school. That's the cheapest way to move. You can, you know, be worried about to student looks later. But I came here. I'ment to school. I went to fashion school, to Barter College. While I was in school I met this lady to need a a a hair assistant, and what I've learned from this situation was two special learned SAMs. Well, from the situation, I argally need to do your research, because the lady end up be in DD Wales. At the time. DD was just the was one the top hairstyles in the end when it came down to recreate on me creating all these looks and the music videos and for magazines and everything. But I want to assist her and I worked uner need her and she taught me a whole lot. And coming from Fleet Ohio, moving to Atlanta, all we knew was that you just do here in the salone. I didn't know that you can do here behind on the music video and get paid thousands of dollars to do this as an assistant. Hello Day reg you know, right, right, that's a I was like what when I got my first chick I like, I got that all this money to do this. But but yeah, so I worked, I worked with her as she guided me and molding me. She was very she was very hard on me. At that time I thought she's a mean lady, but then once I am not. I'm for going to any Tory understand why she was the way that she was, as she always taught me that it's always about re reinventing yourself, staying above the curve and also remembering that classic never goes out of style. Very true, you know. So if I saw a lot of my hair styles, I don't feel a lot of trendy stuff. So I might I don't go with the trends, like when I get a lot of my clients I've had, I've done a lot of celebrities, but a lot of my celebrity clients, they do get bored with me because I'm like no, we're going to do stuff that, when people see you say, while your here, is beautiful, like you know now the Hare just beautiful, healthy hair, you know, and that's how that's...

...what I've always stuck with. Is Been to my detriment sometimes, but then for the long run it does it lasts me, you know, fifteen years in the game, you know, being staying true to that absolutely and I think it's still affords you opportunities, because I think what a lot of people miss as well is not only being a master of your craft, but being someone that people actually enjoy working with. And everyone doesn't have that combination, because anyone that knows derrik J or has seen derk Jay met him anywhere, you always have a smile on your face, you always bring positive energy and I know that every day isn't always a happy day and it isn't always not an amazing day, but you bring but I feel that you put your game face on when you're in certain scenarios and you always just have this pleasant demeanor and it's something that is attracts people and makes them want to be around you and work with you and continue to build with you, and I think that that speaks for itself and it brings Oppertuny, the right opportunities to you. And speaking of the right opportunities, the recent cover of upscale magazine with Tamar Braxton and this again cut, you know, the cut life was living for. Thank you, and you know what? We cut it all off. But this Casey was a nice start because we had never seen her with super short hair before and you know, I was so nervous because I still get nervous about stuff because especially when you when you're dealing well, somebody would have personally like Tamar, and you know, at this when we shot that, she was on the tour. So the night before she just had on a twenty two inch blond wig with orange tips, and this is like hey, so this shoot today, I want to take out me, I want to take you short and black. And so I was I didn't know how she's going to receive it. When she came into the what she came into. You know, I know Timar already, but she came to the said she had bread, you know, were very long, and I'm like, Hey, you're short. We want to change actually, your whole look right now. We just want to change it all up right now. We're hey. You know what the crazy about it? She was so receptive, for she's like I'm down. I'm like cool. So she's like you can take these brakes if you want to. I'm like great. So I took the brains out and I put I put I put the WIG on and I start cutting it down and then, you know, you and I had to leave out for a second. I left her in the room with the mirror, because you want to leave a client with it by themselves and let them get into it, let them feel they sells, let them like, you know, just getting to the moment of it. And when I came back she was like I think I liked there was the whole thank God, that was my only as my halt for you. Right. So you cut her actual hair in this picture? No, no, it's a weird okay, okay, yes, a wig. It's a wig. It's a wig that was up, that was already picked. We just came in and kind of customize it by made of the shorter and I left a little bit longer than when I really attest you want to go to because I didn't want to just take her all the way there. But I think that we came up with a really, really good look for her and she looked sad, but she look fresh, she looked, she look very striking. She would cheat like, you know, all the things I want to capture with that haircut I was able to do on Tamar and honestly, you know, when you think of a magazine cover, a lot of times they reflect a moment in time in the common stars life. And when you think about Tamar and the transition and different things that she's been going through lately. This cover was really like a signified the rebirth, to me, of her and like a fresh start in her life, and I think that it captured it so well. And I must say, I think you gave her the itch to go ahead and cut it all off. Now you know I want. Well, after you got done, she said, I think we'll come on here with a girl. Cut your hair off. What I tell women all the time it is just here it or something you were. We get it that every day anyway. Exactly.

You don't want to cut it off, don't be afraid to cut your hair off. Don't be afraid to change if you don't like it, put your way back on. Just that souple. Absolutely absolutely. And so let's talk about some of the recent project that you've done. I saw you, I think you know I'm always on instagram and the scrolling and looking at what friends are doing and even people I don't know, and I'm like, okay, I see dery j on the set of tails, I believe. Yeah, and I was like, Oh yeah, I was like, okay, let me see, and then it's like it just seemed like all this set life stuff kept popping up, because I was always used to seeing you host events and being in the salon, and then now I'm seeing like set life, set life, set life. So tell me about what's been going on lately with all of these opportunities with TV and film. Well, you know, I've been very, very blessed to be able to transition into things that I want to do. I work with world productions here and Alanta and they I work with him before and I stopped doing it because I was like, well, I don't really like this because it's like, yes, said, I'll set all day long. But it was a project, tails by her gotties, that had came up later, like in what's this two thousand and eighteen? So two thousand and sixteen, and it came up, but then he got pushed back and then it came back up again and they wo look at the job. To somebody else is like no, I want to do this one because it's Herv Gotti, and it's like I I admire his work, I amight his worked at God ethic and I'm like I want to work on this project. The best thing about this, the tails project, was that it was eight episodes, but every episode we had a different cast. Yeah, so we were able to meet all these great actors and was able to create the nerve. Gave me the liberty to do whatever I want to do to create the look for these characters. You know, he really trusted the beauty visual for what the what the women of tails and a mat of tales look like with me. So that was the first time, like I get, that was the first time that a director, I create a really said here, here's my project, I trust you make these people beautiful. That's me. Yes, they felt and then that he's amazing. So it was just it was a great, great project. It's we getting ready to start season too, which I'm super excited about. But the the the TV world, I mean, I enjoy it. Is it a this is a lot of time. Yeah, that time in our day. Yeah, yeah, it's like this is not my life, like you know. This is so I've been fortunate to work with a team. I have an excellent barber, I've excellent barber, I have an excellent key, heir style is I have excellent assistance that understand what my life is, how my life to set up, and they allow with you come in, I could set the looks and I can go about my business and they can hold me down while I'm about making things happen. So, speaking of going about Your Business, for those that are unfamiliar and we're under a rock, you were on had a Brivo show at one point with Miss Laurence, who I love, and Congratsimis Laurence starring as Bruce Ows, Miss Bruce on star, which is, yeah, easy, and then also Betty Smith, who has her own radio show. I think she's on satellite radio. I'm not sure we have about yes, satellite. Okay, that's similar as one of them. Give Sell Ready. Yeah, she's doing a big and so when you talk about having time and your staff understanding your life and your time, and I see that recently you started your one minute with Derek Jay videos that are not just about her but just about your lifestyle in general, from cooking to fashion to home the core. Can't mean you had a video on candles. They had me intrigue.

Goes like I'm here to ghost it over there and just light a candle with der Jake because this is really sexy right. But is this a part of getting back into the talent side of Your Business and brain. Yeah, it is. You know what I want to say this is that TV working on television. It's too fold. Like you know, I learned a lot on fast queens. I learned by myself on fast you queen, and once it was done, I had to take a step back and say, you know what, let me figure out what I want to do. Babby Smith and miss laurs are two really strong personalities that's different from my own, and it is. They taught me about a lot about myself as mean and why need to stand up for myself, Ay, to do more for myself. I had to put myself a different places and different things that I don't think at that time I was, missy prepared to do. So. I need to take time out to be like, you know what, let me work on Derek J and not well, people think that they see but who I really am. And I and I said back I was like, you know what, now it's ties me. You know, I've been going long enough. Now time people start seeing me again. I think they're from us, from the from the old school of when we start started in this industry. We really forgot about the social media aspect, which you have perfectly. You have perfectly master to here, but but we forgot about it and it's like, I'm not getting on Instagram, I ain't doing that. But if we don't do it, we're gonna get left behind like and it's just going to be left than the dirt. So that's what that's where I was like, you know what, well, let me come these women with their James, let me get myself back acclamate in front of the camera and let me let people heir to a piece of my life, because really, nobody knows ahing about me, like nobody. Like nobody knows how I really actually a nobody knows really nothing. I didn't know you could make a bomb apple dumpling. Yeah, and and not keep harping on the apple dumpling, because any type of like apple dessert, from cobbler to Pie, to dumpling to Crumb, I love them all and I love them. I love Ala now trying to do what ala mode would like a vegan Vanilla ice cream. I'm trying, I'm trying, but yeah, he put that recipe on there and I said no, he didn't. That looks like the apple dumpling from brewsters. I'm so right. Now. So that's what's I want to I'm letting people in here and I'm going to hit like I would like a lot. I could be back on big screen television, yes, I would, but I'm good with this, like I'm out there. I'm talk to my girlfriend. He's like, you need a youtube channel. So I'm starting about Youtube Channel. I have a new show that we've been taken from my personal self, cost soul of us, and and it's basically and people's home. Regular people cook a regular stuff, like what is your work like? Your favorite Auntie like, what does she make the best? And we going to talk about it. We're going to make the rest of people cook it together and they were going to share what you guys like, you know, just, yeah, just easy, breezy stuff. That's what I want to do. Like I like television, but I don't want to be I don't want to be a no drama. I don't want to be talking about nobody. I don't want people to if I want to do happy stuff, exactly, feel good, just feel good thing, and there's always an audience for and I think people forget that. They see so much negative commentary and negative images that they think that's the only way to be successful and it's not. And when you spoke earlier about the importance of maximizing social media and just the digital space in general, is so true, because you have this open forum, a lot of times with free tools or low cost tools where you can create content, and that's the wave of where everything is going. Like Netflix, isn't big for a reason and shut down. You know, blockbusters gone, toys arrest is...

...gone, like online purchasing not only products, but they're purchasing content and they want to be able to sit through and watch what they want to watch and there's an audience for everything's just about creating that content and being consistent about creating that yes, which is a job. It is, it is, it definitely is, and it's also lucrative. I think people look think online as opposed to traditional forms of media like TV and film and think that there isn't money there. But I was telling a friend earlier there's a reason why Kevin Hart started to laugh out loud APP because he knows there's there's money in digital content and you can reach people a lot faster, the cost can be lower and you have this direct relationship with your audience. So why not? If Derek Jay has three hundred thou plus followers, why not impact them directly with your own content that you control, that you own, and then if you decide you want to sell it or partner with other mediums, you can choose to do that. Yeah, I love I'm with it, I'm here, you know, but you know. But how I have off to all these social media people that really do social media, because this is a child. You really do it, Derek, what do you mean? You People? You have three hundred thou followers on instagram. Larry. Okay, so let me tell let me tell you about my my my career life. As with social media, I have been truly, truly blessed. I understand that I have, I have had favor I have done. Everything that I have done has been by the Great Guy Period. Like you know, I've never my one when I did. But start off with tears, shoes and beauty. I just was in the borner brooks competition. We didn't know who's will be taps. Why? When we when we did good hair, we didn't know that good here. They told us it was a documentary for HBO. We never knew was going to be a film and that Chris Rock was behind that. Chris Right, we did. Yet we didn't know that when we did. When I got in the House lives, I met Carlos King at a club and he's like, I want you to be on my show real housewives of Landa. I didn't even know. This is second season. I even watch the show. One of the people, one of the persons that he hired to do Cam's WIG party, got to a car sent on their way there and he said Hey, get here, get here now, and I got there. He put a mic on me, knock on the door and was like have fun, and then when I walked in with my first time ever meeting him. Wow, I would have never knew and that, Oh yes, well, hair battle spectacular for oxygen. They called the salone and was like hey, you want to be a judge on the show? was like okay, and then I stay faxed me over some paperwork and I fucked a sixty bench and the next week I was in the lake for two months. Right. So all of my whole career has been been on on grace. Now, my fault through my career is that I could thought it was a fluke. So I was like, okay, did the showing Gona happen? No, more. So I never, I never maximize opportunities that I can do while I was on television. And so now I realize that mistake and I know when my time comes back again, because it's going to come back, because I think that he's got is preparing me for next chapter in my life. Now I'm going to be fully prepared to maximize. So, yes, with my three hundredzerousand followers, is work hard to get them, but I if I would be if I would have did the work that I want to do, I would have a million plus follows. Yes, yeah, I love it. I love the I love the humility and I love the the aware, the self awareness that you have, because I think a lot of times people, especially when it comes to interviews like this, they want to talk about the triumphs but not the trials and how they've learned those things. And I your story, it resonates so much with me because people ask me all the time like how did you get to a million followers and how the cut life come about? And there is something that I you know,...

I tell them certain things and they're certain tips that I can give. But honestly, it was literally a God given idea that was a hobby and turned into a business. I was completely in the PR world and to not necessarily do that forever, but I was still, you know, very much in it and to not even be doing it at all anymore is something that I couldn't have predicted. But good thing. God's plans or not our plans, and he knows how to direct us in the way that we should go. So yeah, and it's crazy that you hit me up today because it's so funny because I went to my first therapy session yesterday. Congrats, that's good. Yes, I think everybody's to go. I mean was great, but he said something to me and he said that he said we you need to be around people that uplift you. If you go home every day to your house by yourself and you know then all the time to deal with people when you at work as days of that nature, he was like you get inside your head and he was like, you know, you think, you start to think poorly of yourself, you start to criticize yourself and you don't really realize the blessing that you are the people and what and what you put out into the world and everything else. So he would. So he was like, listening, I need you to start receiving your stuff and I need you to start believing it. I you start understanding it, and I did. You start work, acting on it, and you know, for that's when we text the day. You like Hey, let's do anything like. Sure, yeah, I'm gonna do an interview. Yes, I'm going to talk about this. Yes, I'm the Shit and yes, I'm yes, I am this. So I am Derek Jay. This is why I am, this is what I do and get better. Believe it. So I'm like, whose pops when you tell me stuff like that, I just love you. Got orchestrates things in the power of positive thinking. It's so real. Yes, it is. I love he I guess. I'm here, Girl. What's up? We are here, we are doing it. Derek, you are amazing. Thank you so much for joining us. This interview was so open and candid and it's just you know, everybody. Hopefully you all get a chance to meet Derek one day, because I'm blessed to know I can huggle if I want to. Yes, say, but hopefully I'll get a chance and we're looking forward to seeing you know your next project. Definitely will look out for the new season of tails. I did fifty s show get we're new tocause it was a lot of beef going on, but I don't got in here about his show coming back, but I heard about by here. I'm happy to be working on the earth, happy see listen. So we will definitely look out for that and all the new projects you have going on. Everyone that's listening, please follow Derek on instagram. Matt Derek J Hare, Derek J Hare, so we can get him to a million followers. Hello, like let's yeah, let's do that happens. That's what happart end of the year exactly, and then when I get invited over to dinner and have my apple dumpling for this there. I'm going to let y'all know, yeah, how good it was, part of women with your Jack. It will, it will. Thank you so much. Love. We'll talk soon. All right, baby. Thank you all for tuning into the cut life podcast. As always, you can listen to all of the episodes on soundcloud. You can find us on itunes. We need you to listen on itunes too, so we can get up to the top of the list. Of all of the podcasts ever in life, because we're the BOMBCOM and for new content with the cut life, visit live the cut lifecom you can find out about the latest events. We've got some webinars coming up for these stylists that want to get even more info outside of the podcast. So just stay tuned for more. Thank you.

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