Kim Kimble probably spends more hours on a plane than she does in a bed some weeks.
The celebrity hair stylist, salon owner and star of We tv reality show L.A. Hair can count superstars Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Rihanna among her past clients and routinely travels to meet and style celebs for important events — like Mary J. Blige for her national anthem performance at Game 1 of the World Series Wednesday night. But more than a TV star or stylist to the stars, Kimble is a veteran salon owner with 20-plus years of experience in the hair business.
She'll be in Tampa Sunday to share her expertise with salon owners, stylists and aspiring stylists at the first Mane Stream Expo Hair and Beauty Conference at the Tampa Convention Center. Kimble said her class will focus on the business of running a salon — from etiquette to brand building — a subject she's constantly faced with on L.A. Hair, which is centered around the inner workings of Kimble Hair Studios. Before she touched down, Kimble talked to tbt* about the show's first two seasons, cutting ties with friends, the natural hair revolution and where she draws the line with her producers.
How did you get hooked up with the Mane Stream Expo?
They contacted us and asked us to come. We get a lot of requests from hair shows all over the country to come. We talked back and forth and then we set the date. I think it's great that there are more shows in smaller places because it means everyone doesn't have to travel to Atlanta (to Bronner Bros.) In L.A., we have several large shows every year, but it's good that there are shows people can go to where they live.
You have some seriously dramatic stylists from your salon featured on the show. How are they different in real life from when the show began?
Girl, these people changed. (laughs) No really, these are their personalities, I think it just intensified. It's like when the cameras are rolling you really see who people are. It's been interesting and I'll be honest, a lot of these people don't front for the camera, this is their personality. I think that because they know the camera is there they are getting away with more. They think, ''Oh, she not gonna fire me. I'm too good on the show.'' But as you can see, somebody (Angela) found out that wasn't true last season. You are not exempt. Hair stylists, they are very creative and have huge egos. If you fired them all, you'd get another group of the same people.
Have you spoken to Angela, the stylist you trained up from an assistant, since you fired her at the end of Season 2?
I have briefly, but not too much. … I'm very disappointed in her. Things she has said after the show that are not true, I'm disappointed. I don't talk about others, but some of things I've heard said are just not true.
I heard you created Oprah's epic afro for the September cover of O Magazine. How does it feel to work with a media mogul of her caliber?
I made the wig that her stylist requested for the cover. It was over 5 pounds, and the picture doesn't show but it was the full look all the way around. We picked out bundles of hair for that full look. It was a great experience, and to have Oprah to give you a shout-out like that is amazing. I've always admired her for years.
Is that where you see yourself headed, media mogul or international superstar?
I want to do something like that but as the new millennium Madam C.J. Walker (first African-American millionaire and black hair-care pioneer). I want to do hair styling, products, creating a beauty brand and really just build something great and historic for the hair care industry.
As a stylist who has been working with relaxed hair for many years, what are your feelings on the recent natural hair revolution?
I'm totally for it. There are plenty of women out there who are wearing relaxed hair. There will always be work to do. I think it's a really positive statement about self love — not that you don't love yourself if you relax yours — but women in corporate settings are embracing their hair and it's great. For a while I was wearing my hair naturally, but then I recently went back to a relaxer. As a stylist, I change it up. I'm not really stuck on one thing. You can still love yourself and wear a relaxer or hair weave, but natural has become more popular now. It's taken on its own thing and is becoming a movement. It's a good and positive thing. I'm not scared of it. (laughs)
Your master class includes a section on salon etiquette. How will you reconcile the professionalism you're teaching with the shenanigans the audience will have seen on L.A. Hair?
It's entertainment on TV. They're there to learn and one of the things they should know is sometimes what you see on TV is what not to do. There is a level of professionalism that you must have to run a successful business. It doesn't mean that what they (stylists on the show) are doing is right. It doesn't mean that they don't know any better. No matter what you see on TV, you have to strive for excellence. At the end of the day, (hair care) is still what you do.