We had the good fortune of connecting with Kaylie Babajan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kaylie, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I’m from a tiny town in Northern California. I was raised out side, picking black berries and catching salamanders, with my siblings. My mom and dad raised four kids on a very small income and money, or the lack there of, was always a point of contention between them. I remember my freshmen year; my mom paid for my sister and I to have our hair done for our winter formal dance. We had been asked to the dance by both of our crushes (Chris Prigmore, if you read this, I still love you.) and my Mom knew it was important to us so she wanted to treat us: She paid with tip money. Money she couldn’t afford to waste. And our hair was hideous. Hideous. We had to come home and try to mitigate the damages of the unnecessary hair spray and tiny pin curls, and we weren’t successful. I remember I actually washed mine out. What a waste. That day, I literally said to myself, “I don’t even know how to do hair but I know I could do a better job than this.” By prom that year, I had perfected my butterfly clip hair styling techniques and did my sister’s hair for her senior prom. She got so many compliments and my business started to grow. By the end of my senior
Year, I had done hair for all of the homecoming queens, the dances, even some weddings. (People get married very young where I’m from). I loved playing with hair. Sculpting it. Turning something blah into something incredible. I loved the stress and the pressure. I loved it all. That dance, my Freshman year. Seeing my Mom waste her hard earned money. Seeing that HAIR. I guess it sort of changed me. Why pay someone to do something that you can do better? I’ve been this way ever since. It’s the reason I built my own website, the reason I own my own business and the reason, to this day, that I can NOT let anyone else touch my hair.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Ive always been an artist. With four young kids running around, my mom couldn’t really micro-manage us and she’d often let us do whatever arts and crafts we could get our hands on, to keep us busy. My mom is a seamstress. She can make something out of nothing and I’ve always admired her for that. My dad, his art is “tinkering.” At least that is what he calls it. Pretty much the art of going out into his man shop and fixing whatever is broken around the house. A lawn mower. The dryer. My 3 wheeler. Watching my parents work with their hands might have given me a leg up. My dad had me tying my own flies for fly fishing before I was in kindergarten. I remember I loved putting all of the colorful feathers together and making something pretty. I’ve always loved making things prettier. When I started doing hair, it came almost too naturally to me. I was a very confident young stylist but I could walk the walk too, and it was intimidating to my peers. It took some time for me to find the right atmosphere. I didn’t want to dull my shine but I also really wanted to have that dream salon atmosphere where everyone gets along and supports each other. I moved to San Diego and found my dream salon and worked there for 5 years, under the owner who taught me so much about the business side of things. Having the best mentor and salon culture really allowed me to shine and I can not say enough good things about my first job. As time went on though, I started to feel like my hard work was going into building someone else’s brand, rather than my own. Every 5 star review went to the salon, not to Kaylie Babajan and I knew I needed to walk away from being an employee and venture out into the world as a business owner. I think the most important thing I did as I got ready to make the shift in my career path was find someone to help with my money. I went into a few salon Facebook groups and asked around about a good book keeper/accountant who dealt with stylists and creatives and I found a magician: a magical woman who changed my life. I started my LLC. The KBKollective. She’s helping me think bigger than just hair. My clients are constantly complimenting my outfits and accessories. So I’ll be opening an online boutique with the links to my favorite items very soon. I’d say, my biggest success has been due to the fact that anything creative comes naturally to me, my passion for doing hair stems beyond the creative aspect into just a general love of people and love of being around people. Passion is nothing. Talent is nothing. None of it matters if you can’t make money doing it. And that’s what I learned at my first salon: I’m still figuring things out as a new business owner, but my prices reflect my value, my books are full and my clients are happy and shining and beautiful, which makes my heart smile.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My salon is 2 blocks away from the boardwalk in Pacific Beach, San Diego. I love the location. My absolute favorite restaurant is JRDN, it’s the restaurant in the Tower 23 hotel. It’s a little swanky and the prices reflect the view. It’s right on the water. I swear the sunsets are prettier when you’re viewing them from this place, with a glass of white wine in your hand. I love to take my friends to La Jolla comedy store on Thursday nights. It’s the locals night and I love to support local entertainers whenever I can. Here’s a tip; When you book your tickets, use LOCAL in the coupon code box. And tickets will be free. You can thank me later. My favorite casual dining restaurant is Rockies. It’s a burger place. There’s like 3 things on the menu, but when you do something really well, like a burger, you don’t need to branch out. It’s a hidden gem in crown point. I have a few local places right by my house that my friends can’t get enough of. Costa Brava is a Spanish restaurant. All of the employees are Spanish. Pre-Covid, it’s the type of place where they kiss you on both sides of cheeks when they greet you and my out of town girlfriends love it. I’m not big on taking my friends to do touristy things. I’d rather just spend time at the beach, with some fish tacos from the pb fish shop, and enjoy the salty air, and they agree. .
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Instagram: @Keratinbykaylie @kaylierane_sd
Yelp: Hair by kaylie
Genevieve Woosley (my best friend) took these photos of Me while she had hair dye in her hair at the salon. 😂