The first time I met Kara at the shop, I knew she reminded me of someone, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then it came to me –  it was Italian actress, Claudia Cardinale – when she was younger, obviously. I had to include a picture. They could pass for sisters.

I got to sit down and chat recently with Kara, here is our interview. It is so nice to hear when someone’s passion and career come together.


I never let anyone leave my chair without giving them a piece of me.

Kara Chartier
Hair Stylist

Instagram: @kara_hair_

Glow Hair Studio | Ottawa ON

(Update: Following the closure of the Dalhousie location of Texture Hair Salon, Kara is now co-owner of her own shop.)

The first time I met Kara at the shop, I knew she reminded me of someone, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then it came to me –  it was Italian actress, Claudia Cardinale – when she was younger, obviously. I had to include a picture. They could pass for sisters.

What was your first experience with hair?

I was really young. My father was watching me while my mom was out; I was about two years old and he had fallen asleep. My brother had a rattail – which was popular at the time and I wanted one too but my mother had said no. So I got a hold of a pair of scissors and gave myself a perfect mullet. My mother says it was perfectly cut – not choppy at all. It was crazy.

When I was 18 – I started braiding hair in Ottawa at Diversity on Rideau Street. I had learned how to braid when I was about 12 or 13 years old from a girl who was living with us at the time. I also got into hair extensions while I was at the shop – so I have been doing that for about 10 years. Then I always did my friends hair.

I lived with my best friend for a while – and I was like her personal stylist. When I talk to her – she tells me that’s what she misses about me the most. Lol.

I guess I always knew I had an interest for hair but then I wasn’t ready to take it seriously and make it into a career. I wanted to wait until I was really ready to make the commitment.

I think that when you are passionate about something – that is when you will be successful. But if you’re talked into something – it usually doesn’t work out.

Yes. I went to school to become a dental assistant. My father asked me why I wasn’t studying to be a hair stylist. I just wasn’t ready then. Plus you always have those people saying it wasn’t a real career. But the amount of money that I have spent on my hair – I probably could have owned a house. So I got to the point when I said – enough is enough – I’m always going through hair pictures, looking at people’s hair – this is what I love to do.

I know what you mean. I always get really offended when people say that hairdressing is not a career. In my family we have so many hair stylists. To me it’s almost like an art. There is math involved, chemistry, angles – everything. People think it’s so easy, but it’s not. You wouldn’t have to go to school for it, if that was the case – right?

I know. Learning in the salon is great but when you go to school for it, you learn everything – right into the interior of the hair structure – the scalp. That extra bit helps you understand it a lot more.

That’s right – you have to understand everything from beginning to end. Like with the restaurant business. You can’t just say I want to buy a restaurant, you need to understand all parts of the business – front of the house – back of the house – everything.

Exactly. You need to understand the fundamentals of everything. It’s very true. When I was in school I loved it. I loved my teacher, had a great time – willing to learn – help out and I graduated as one of the top of my class.

Instagram: @kara_hair_
Congratulations. Where did you go to school?

Versailles – it’s a very good school.

Some people say salon prices are too expensive and they just will use a box to color their hair – thinking it will be the same thing. They don’t realize – all the steps that are involved – even the business side of it. What it takes to run a salon – all the expenses that go into providing a quality service.

Anyone can slap bleach on a head. But you’re literally taking a risk. The average person doesn’t know about elasticity or understand veracity. So when it doesn’t turn out, who fixes it for you – a hair stylist. Then you have to pay more.

I know my mother always said color corrections were expensive services. That’s another reason why I like doing the blog, because I get to expose that side of the industry to people who don’t know anything about the salon business or being a stylist.

Or people who think we are trying to press a service on them.

Exactly. Even with salon products. I always get compliments on how well my curls hold. But I tell them that I use three different salon products, and get regular trims. With a mother who was a hairdresser, I always used salon products in my hair. I grew up with the Wella logo.

Exactly. You use good products that are not 90 percent water.

I always tell people – when you go to the salon, watch how the stylist applies the product – how much they use.

The stylist should also explain it to you. Educate you.

Instagram: @kara_hair_
People often think stylists are trying to up-sell them. But I tell my friends and our readers that there is a reason why your hair looks the way it does when you leave the salon – part of that is the products used in your hair.

You know what I do, when someone is on the fence about buying a product – when they say – oh what’s the difference – I bring up the pH scale. The product you get the drugstores is 90 percent water. Water is high on the pH scale, it opens your cuticle, which is the opposite of what you want. If they still need convincing I tell them to Google the pH scale. I guess I am a bit of a hair nerd – so what I learned at Versailles really was great.

I find that when you give people an educated answer – it gives you more credibility. I also find it odd that people will be willing to pay $5.00 – $6.00 on a coffee but refuse to invest in salon quality hair products.

I know. Everyone sees your hair – you should use quality products. I speak from experience. I was one of those people that went into salons – always ones that were well known and reputable and said – I want my hair bleach blonde today. They would say no. Then I would go to the next salon until someone said yes. They would charge me an arm and a leg. I would go back and forth with color. Then, eventually my hair fell right out of my head. I had crazy bald spots for years. It took a long time to get it healthy and back into shape. I use myself as an example when speaking to clients. I find that people can relate to you that way.

That’s important. You need skill but you also need that people connection – be able to relate to people.

This is a job where you need to genuinely like people. I love people. Every job I have had to deal with the public.

Instagram: @kara_hair_
I tell people all the time – you can have all the degrees and diplomas in the world, but without some sort of people skills, it doesn’t amount to much. Some of the people I respect most in my life are hair stylist – they have such a rich knowledge about just about everything.
Do have any signature styles/specialties men’s or women’s hairstyles?

Well, I am still learning to style men’s hair – I’m just not used to yet. I love doing women’s hair – I guess I just understand it more.

I find men’s hair shows more flaws then a women’s hair.

Yes. But I don’t believe in hiding. You could hide with layers, but I don’t want to do that. It has to be balanced. I mean you can have a disconnected haircut, but it should be intentional.

So for haircuts – what is your experience?

For haircuts, I do layering, bobs, elevated, I am learning the pixie. I’m good with fine hair – because that’s my hair type. So, I know how to give it some life, without giving it layering. I recently did a course and did an entire cut with a razor.

I’m never going to stop learning. They day you stop learning, is the day you stop building a clientele. Hair is like fashion. Trends come and go and they repeat and reinvent themselves.

Exactly, it’s always evolving. I think that’s what keeps someone’s passion alive. When there is always something new to learn – a new technique.

You need to always know what is hip and trendy, or what happened at the Oscars. You need to be in touch with the social aspect of things – people are looking to celebrities more and more these days. For hair stylist, right now I am loving Guy Tang – a celebrity hair stylist out of California. He’s the best at balayage and ombre. When I was in school – I studied him hard core.

“Everyone is a walking billboard for you when you’re a stylist. You’re only as good as your last haircut. That’s it.  You got to be on point.”

Where did you pick up your finishing and styling from?

My mom and curling the back of her hair for her.

Since we are a fashion and beauty blog, would you mind answering a few personal questions?
Do you have a daily beauty routine?

Daily beauty is pretty basic shower, hair, makeup then clothing.

Let’s hear some of your favorites…

piece of clothing you own: An old ‘Wonderland’ shirt my dad bought back in the late 80’s early 90’s. I don’t wear it much but I have held on to it for years. It’s vintage and has a story behind it. The reason I don’t wear it too much is I don’t want to ruin it.

hair product: It’s definitely hairspray. No hairspray = bad hair day. Lol. Sebastian Professional Shaper Plus is fantastic!

make up must haves: Mascara and gloss. I really like Butterfly Mascara by L’Oréal or Lash Sensational Mascara by Maybelline they both enhance the length and don’t clump.

Do you have any beauty or fashion pet peeves?

My beauty pet peeves would be face a different colour than a persons neck (foundation) or over the top eye lashes. My hair pet peeve is bad extensions. I feel like when I see bad extensions. I just want to save them. Lol.

How would you describe your personal style?

My personal style is very chameleon like. I like to switch it up I can go from street to 5 star restaurant – I like to bounce around in between.

If money was no object – what designers would be in your dream closet?

I love Tom Ford I have liked him long before Jay-Z came out with that song. I remember watching him on fashion tv and putting on my moms heels and trying to walk with a book on my head.

What is your favorite way to pamper yourself?

Taking off to the cottage. I love the serenity of it. I love nature – I feel at ease when I’m by the lake surrounded by the beauty of it all.

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?

I would love to be riding a Vespa in Italy with my family. I have always wanted to go but haven’t had the chance yet.

Finally give us three words that describe you best.

Loyal. Friendly. Mother.