We often speak about America as the land of opportunity but let’s talk about France! Meet Ciara Costenoble, this American hairstylist who has been making a name for herself here in Paris since 2011! She works with Mary J.Blige, Tarajih P.Henson, Solange, Janelle Monae, and French celebrities as well. Hairstyles by Ciara have appeared on Vogue, Marie Claire, and L’Officiel. Her journey wasn’t supposed to be this way but it brought her to Paris! Here is her story on how she is building her career from the United States to Paris for MEFeater, enjoy! 😍
Tell us about yourself Ciara?
My name is Ciara Costenable, I am originally from Alexandria, Washington D.C. For a very long time I have been freelancing, I am a hairstylist and educator. I work with celebrities for editorials and I also do photo shoots and weddings.
What did you do before you came to France?
I started doing hair when I was fourteen, assisting at a salon. The girl that does everybody’s hair was me! I went to Cosmetology School at the same time that I went to high school. So when I graduated with my high school diploma I also had my Cosmetology license. I spent a lot of time working while I was young. After that, I also studied journalism and business marketing at Shepherd University. It is actually this program that brought me to France, in order to do my last year. That is how I came to France stayed!
Tell us more about your passion for hair! 💁🏾♀️
When I worked in the States, I wanted to make good money because I was paying for school myself and I was going to school full-time. I always went toward luxury salons and I was often the only Black person at the salon. It was at that moment that I started realizing that no one actually knows how to do hair that well. At that point, I really noticed that there was a lack of education but also that mediocre stylists were highly praised. I wanted to be that black girl who does all hair textures, doing well, passionate, fully knowledgeable and I also love the art of hair and the health of hair.
How was your first business in freelancing?
When I came to France to start my own business in freelancing, it was because I worked at a salon. First and I really did not like that salon in Paris. I took a year off and I went to use my marketing degree. One day, I asked myself what do you love Ciara? I was like ‘I love styling hair, I love fashion, beauty, the art of creating something, that is what I want to do! I take everything in when it comes to the hairstyle, it’s not quick.
What are the differences you noticed between the US and France ?
I noticed a huge difference culturally between how hair and beauty are regarded in the Anglo-Saxon environment versus in France. To be a hairstylist in France is like maybe you’re not educated, it is not considered as art. So that sucked the energy out of me and they don’t pay well! I have never been so underpaid, ever!
We saw that you have pretty cool contacts, how did you do it?
It is the worth of mouth. The first celebrity I worked with here was Taraji P. Henson, it was actually her makeup artist who wrote a comment under my Instagram picture. Then, she sent me a message saying that her client is coming to France and she is looking for a hairstylist. I have never been signed by an agency. It has really been the community. 85% are Black women having my back, who wanted to see me shine, rooting for me!
Who is your dream client?
Mary J. Blige was my client dream but that is done. I love me some Tracee Ellis Ross! 😍
Any advice to succeed as a hairstylist?
I would say, Networking is number one. Put yourself out there, don’t be timid, send messages, meet people for coffee and get to know them. I did that at the beginning with people who had the vision that I had for the future. Plus, don’t compare yourself to others. Focus on what you are good at. The third piece of advice I can give is to have a good personality, not being fake and all those things, people feel that. To me, that’s more important than being a great hairstylist.
A French word to conclude this interview?
We can end with ‘coiffure’ (hairstyle).
We hope you enjoyed Ciara’s story on her transition from the U.S. to France! 💕