Superstar Hair Stylists of Metro Detroit

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he Wall Street Journal has reported that there are 14,400 licensed cosmetologists in Detroit, and that doesn't include the nearly 2,000 barbers. So it's no wonder that the Motor City has long been considered the nation's leader in Black hair care.

"Detroit hairstylists are recognized as superstar hairstylists in other parts of the country," says David Humphries, producer of Hair Wars, the international hair entertainment stage shows that were born out of Detroit 30 years ago. "They set the hairstyling trends for the rest of the country and are even observed by other cultures throughout the world."

So who are some of these amazingly talented Detroit hairstyling stars? Here's a quick look at five Detroit hairstyling icons.

Shon Johnson at So-Be-It Salon Studio in Livonia

If you've never heard of hairstylist Shon Johnson, it's probably because 95 percent of her clientele has been with her since she attended Virginia Farrell Beauty School in 1988. That speaks volumes. "I'm known for my cutting skills, but my customers really appreciate my professionalism and how I always cater to them," she explains.


Johnson prides herself in creating magic in a crunch and fixing blunders for women who sat in the wrong chair with the wrong stylist. "I had a woman who was crying the other day about what was done to her hair by another stylist," she recalls. "By the time I was done, she hugged me and tipped me $25."

Johnson's advice to women is to allow your stylist to do what they are trained to do: "Don't try to do your own hair, and never re-curl your dirty hair. It causes too much breakage."

Ivan Humphries at Salon Ivanize in Detroit

In addition to being a damn good hairstylist, Ivan (and he's pretty much known by just the one name) is a marketing genius. He proved that nearly 30 years ago when he boldly advertised "Ivanized" on a massive billboard that hovered gloriously over the Lodge Freeway. "I enjoy singing to my clients," says Ivan. "I enjoy helping others perfect their craft. I really loved teaching my daughter my hair care systems, and now I stand back proudly watching her train others."

Ivan graduated from State College of Beauty and continued to hone his craft with advanced hair care and color training at Vidal Sassoon, Paul Mitchell, Mally Beauty and Redken and Carlos Valenzuela. In 2014, he received the Power of the Industry Award. Ivan prides himself on maintaining long-lasting relationships with his clients. He has worked with a number of celebrities, including Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick.

Carlton Northern at Hot Hair Design Studio in Southfield

Another one-name wonder, Carlton started doing hair in the early 1980s. He credits his success to his willingness to continue to grow and learn, staying current and, most importantly, listening to his clients. Although Carlton has styled a number of celebrities, from Annie Lennox to Keith Washington, he's probably best known for the work he's done continuously with Aretha Franklin since 1983 when he styled her for her album cover, Get It Right.

"I'll never forget that day," Carlton recalls. "I was on set in New York with three legends-photographer Francesco Scavullo, makeup artist Way Bandy and, of course, Aretha. I've been with her ever since. I've been to the White House five times with Aretha."

Hair stylist John Gooden

John Gooden has always been known for staying ahead of the game when it comes to styling hair. Although he prides himself in knowing the latest trends, he insists that many classic styles are still very relevant.

"What goes around comes back around," he says. "I do lots of research and I like to study the hair in old movies."

Gooden has taught hairstyling techniques all over the world. He's been in the business for over 25 years and has worked on movie sets, styled lots of gospel artists and celebrities like Kenya Moore, Missy Elliott, Stevie Wonder and the late Aaliyah.

In terms of hair care, Gooden encourages women to make sure their hair is healthy. "Don't use a lot of heat and chemicals," he recommends. "Try going natural. I've developed techniques that require minimal heat or chemicals but that deliver the same results."

Jacqueline Robinson at Salon Jacqueline & Spa in Southfield

"I would say that my business acumen, my skill set and my passion for and dedication to perfection are the things that set me apart from other stylists," explains Jacqueline Robinson. And obviously, that works pretty well for her. She's been styling hair for 41 years, having studied her craft all over the world with consistent and advance training in Paris and London. Busy professional women who need to always look good, but rarely have time to worry about their hair, entrust their locks to Robinson. Women like renowned psychologist Dr. Gail Parker and Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee (Diana Ross' sister), who flies in regularly to have Robinson tend to her tresses.

"And we have great perks in our job," she declares. "I remember doing Aretha Franklin's hair for an appearance on Oprah. There I was sitting in the dressing room with Aretha, Oprah and Mary J. Blige-just relaxing and chatting with the girls."

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