The Coolest Hairstylist In Manhattan: Meet Siobhan Quinlan, Hairstylist at Art + Autonomy

With stunning ever changing hair (last I saw her it was bright pink) Siobhan stands out. She’s a hairstylist at the chic Soho salon Art + Autonomy. Leaving behind a traditional career to pursue mastering the art of hair and styling, Read Siobhan’s story from “normal” to “remarkable.”

1. Your career as a stylist happened later in life, what drew you to hair and styling and who were you before Art + Autonomy

I’ve always loved dressing up and playing with hair and makeup. I can remember after high school hearing some people were going to beauty school and feeling jealous. Coming from an academic family I never thought of actually doing anything other than going to college and getting a degree. In college, I knew the next thing I wanted to do was move to NYC. I had a cousin who lived here and I talked to him about his job and his experience moving from Ireland to NYC. He worked in TV and I liked the idea of that so I majored in Media Arts. Two weeks after graduating I moved to NYC and he got me a job as a production assistant. I worked in TV production for about 5 years. I was climbing the ladder and making good money, but was not really fully satisfied. Being on set I loved watching the hair and make up people and always used to think I wanted to be with them rather than sitting behind a computer. Finally, I decided I had enough saved up and there was nothing really stopping me. I would go to beauty school. It was scary leaving my career, but knowing it was my choice to walk away from production also gave me a good sense of security. I could always go back if the beauty industry wasn’t what I thought it would be. Once I started cosmetology school I never looked back. I got a job as an assistant at Michael Angelo’s Wonderland Beauty Parlor where I worked with and learned from an amazing group of stylists. After I finished my apprenticeship there I became a stylist at Wonderland and felt like I had officially started my new career. A few years later, some friends of mine were talking about opening Art + Autonomy. I went to the opening party to support them and somebody mentioned to me that they were still looking for a few more stylists to join the team. Something about it felt really right and it seemed like the time to grow in a different direction and I joined the family at Art + Autonomy. 

2. What’s the most interesting thing about being a hair stylist? What’s the biggest challenge? 

I really love my clients. I love making them feel beautiful and teaching them about their hair. It’s amazing how many people think they have the worst hair in the world. In reality, they just don’t know how to take care of it. To transform somebody’s look and coach them into having their dream hair is always amazing. 

Challenges usually come from communication and timing. It’s so important to make sure you and your stylist understand each other. Also people want to be in and out of the salon as quickly as possible. That’s just not realistic in most cases. Many processes take a lot of time and attempting to rush them can actually create issues that wouldn’t normally arise. So sometimes trying to make things happen for people in a much shorter time period can be challenging. 

3. How did you get your start in the styling world? Do you have any tips for aspiring stylists?  

When I started out I made sure to visit a lot of salons to really find somewhere that I wanted to grow at. It’s important to make sure you surround yourself with people that are not only going to teach you, but also support you while you grow. For aspiring stylists I would say make sure you ask a lot of questions and shadow salons to get the true feeling of the place before you take a job. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. You want to find a place that will hopefully be your home/family for years to come.  

4. What 3 tips do you have for keeping our hair healthy? 

Healthy hair is my favorite kind of hair! I’m always telling my clients that no matter what your cut and color is, if you keep your hair healthy it’s always going to look better.  So #1 get regular haircuts. You should get a cut every 8 weeks. This doesn’t mean you have to cut inches and inches off every time. It helps to keep the shape of your cut fresh and it gets rid of any split ends before they have a chance to break further up the hair shaft, which will cause you to need a bigger chop to get your hair looking healthy again. #2 Use a heat protector/moisturizer!!!!! So many people have it in their head that products weigh their hair down. There are so many kinds of products available! It’s just about finding the right product for you and knowing how to apply it properly. #3 Don’t put your hair up wet! This is a big way to unknowingly cause breakage. Lots of women put their hair up when it’s still wet but hair is more elastic when it’s wet. It’s stretched out so as it dries, the hair shrinks. As the hair shrinks, it breaks against the ponytail holder – causing unwanted split ends and even breaking completely if the ponytail holder is tight.  

5. Any trade secretes you can share with us on trends, favorite products, etc? 

Hmm, top things I tell my clients…

When trying to learn a new way to do your hair, it’s going to take time! There is no way you are going to do it once and it will be perfect. Practice when you have time at home, not when you are rushing out somewhere and suddenly think, “Wouldn’t it be great if I had a new hairstyle!” Many stylists will encourage you to book an appointment as a hair tutorial. You can book time with your stylist and have them teach you different ways to do your hair and ask any questions you have about doing your own hair. 

My top two favorite products right now are Oribe Supershine and Oribe Dry Texture Spray. Supershine is a hair moisturizer that also acts as a heat protector while adding great shine to the hair. Dry Texture Spray is almost like a light hair spray and dry shampoo in one. It’s the perfect thing to refresh your hair before heading out to give it some more bounce and hold. 

Follow Siobhan and Art + Autonomy on Instagram 


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