We chatted with mega hairdresser Kenna, owner of the atypical hair salon Kennaland, on the transformative art of hair, tricks for gorgeous hair, and his fun-loving approach to fatherhood.
Profession: Hairdresser at Kennaland
Describe yourself in 3 words: Passionate, Meticulous, Ginger
How did your passion for hair come about and what’s your most memorable hair campaign to date?
I’ve always been drawn to creative avenues of self-expression, coupled with a bit of a renegade spirit. Growing up in London, fashion served as this outlet. I knew I wanted to do something creative and non-conformist from that which was customary to Southeast London in the 1990s. I bristled at the idea of a desk job involving a suit.
When I was 18, my girlfriend at the time was a hairdresser. She was my first introduction to the hair world. It felt like an exciting place where self-expression and creativity were really celebrated. I didn’t have a job at the time, so I decided to give it a go and just fell in love with the work.
Once immersed in the industry I felt the joy that is making people look and feel their best. When you have someone in your chair, and you can make them feel like a better version of themselves, it’s a great feeling. Hair is a transformative art. I feel fortunate to have found my perfect creative outlet.
My most memorable campaign was one of my first shoots for Vogue. It was early in my career and I was very excited to be working as Creative Director of UK hair brand ghd. We had a new product launch coming up, and we managed to persuade the CEO to give us the budget for an advertorial hair supplement with Vogue! Working with so many talented, creative people was incredible. The shoot turned out amazing; it was printed in thousands of copies of the magazine and the CEO loved it. It was a tremendous stepping stone in my career.
Kennaland is such a vibe. We love your concept of the anti-salon. What propelled you to create such a welcoming space for both clients and stylists?
Thank you so much. When I created Kennaland I really wanted to provide an inclusive, welcoming space for clients and hairdressers to feel free to express themselves. I’ve experienced first hand a less than positive salon experience: long lines of chairs, poor lighting, maybe the stuck up stylist or two, and wanted to build a different experience.
We’re located in the heart of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, on the second floor of an old pencil factory. The space gets amazing light while remaining removed from the fray of the city. It feels like you’ve entered a chic, hair enclave studio, rather than your traditional retail-front salon.
We have a board outside the salon that we update once a week with witty, creative slogans; never to do with hair and never political, just to bring a bit of joy to the neighborhood. If anyone has been to Greenpoint they will have seen our sign. Our ‘tongue in cheek’ sensibility is a fundamental part of our culture. Hair should be fun. Because we’re a small team we operate by appointment only. Customers can easily book online through our website or call if they prefer.
What are some of your favorite hair care brands and products?
Act + Acre products are really great. The brand is formulated with high quality ingredients to maximize scalp health. The Cold Pressed Scalp Detox is an excellent weekly addition to a haircare routine. It breaks down residue that can weigh hair down & lead to dullness & breakage over time.
Their Plant Based Dry Shampoo is often a personal savior. Hair really should not be over-washed and a high quality dry shampoo can help extend styling and add back volume in between washes. This formula is lightweight and doesn’t leave hair looking dull.
What’s your personal go-to skin and hair routine?
My skincare routine is pretty simple (plus I have a beard.) I like to focus on sun protection. I begin with Youth To The People’s 15% Vitamin C Serum. I love the idea that it has caffeine in it, it kind of wakes you up and helps you look more refreshed.
ELTA MD Daily SPF 40 is a non-negotiable for me. I say this with kindness but us ginger redheads need all the sun protection we can get. It can be completely cloudy and overcast; and I’ll still manage to get burnt.
What’s a hair product you believe everyone needs in their vanity?
For me the Mason Pearson brush will always remain unmatched. I call it the Rolls Royce of hair brushes. It’s well-made, beautiful, and will last you for years. A quality hairbrush should be a staple in one’s routine. I especially like Mason Pearson brushes for their versatility as they can safely comb wet hair, revitalize 2nd day hair, and provide detailed styling control. The secret is the brush’s boar bristles.
What are your thoughts on hair color for summer and fall?
Hair color is so individual to a person’s stage in life, complexion, and personality. My philosophy is to focus on what color will best suit a client, rather than what color is trending at the moment. Hair color does trend seasonally but we don’t all need to follow that. A great consultation with a colorist can steer someone in the best direction towards what suits them.
Your most-treasured way to spend time with your kids?
We are lucky enough to have a weekend home on a lake just outside the city. Many of our best memories have been spent here, exploring and running around in nature. We’ll swim, kayak, fish, hunt for worms, plant in the garden. I love that the kids are able to be let loose and really be kids.
Best fatherhood moment or memory to date?
Last summer my kids were just beginning to learn how to ride bikes. We found a perfect slope in the park, near our lake house, and they rode up and down for hours on end. By the end of the day the training wheels had come off and they were total pros, with only a few scraped elbows. That was a really proud moment for me.
What's your fatherhood mantra?
FUN! I get on their level. I believe kids should be kids. It’s part of their discovery. I try to remain playful with them. I am the first one to play a trick on them. My kids have a great sense of humor already and we’ll make up jokes together for hours.