HAIR TALK: Sal Salcedo and Cherin Choi
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They say the best things come in pairs. Proof is in the artistry exhibited by powerhouse duo Sal Salcedo and Cherin Choi. Having first met in beauty school, Sal and Cherin re-crossed paths along the way at Benjamin Salon in West Hollywood before relocating their talents to the salon’s Arts District location. Today, the two share clients and flights to Mexico, New York and San Francisco as part of a hair tour starring themselves. What Cherin colors, Sal cuts and styles, resulting in an admiration and hunger to learn that their students wish to satiate at seminars. Despite working alongside daily, Sal and Cherin seem to never run out of things to talk about. Below, find a candid conversation between the stylists about their beginnings, ambitions, and perks of traveling together.
SAL: Hi Cherin!
CHERIN: Hi Sal Sal!
SAL: I miss you!
CHERIN: I miss you too!
SAL: It’s funny because we share a lot of our time together yet we’ve become so close that I think of you and wonder how you’re doing.
CHERIN: I know, I missed you too this weekend. It was weird not being there on Saturday.
SAL: How was your trip to Ojai?
CHERIN: It’s been really nice for family vibes—really, really awesome.
SAL: I also spent some time with my family yesterday, it was really nice.
SAL: So, let’s talk hair. Let’s tell people how we got started. Do you want to start?
CHERIN: When I realized I wanted to do hair was when I went into a beauty school for the first time to get my hair done and I saw how much fun everybody was having, and I realized that could be my career. I went home and I told my parents I was really excited about something that I’ve wanted to do for the first time, and they kinda shut it down. Haha. But I never forgot that experience. When did you get started, Sal? You’ve been doing hair a lot longer than I have.
SAL: I kinda just fell into it. My family and I moved to California when I was 13-years-old. I’m 27 now. Getting a haircut was such a luxury to me. I was a good kid in school, I got good grades and I never asked for anything from my parents except getting a haircut. Mainly, I wanted to look good, but I also had a crush on my hairdresser. She was a really pretty single mom and I just wanted to be around her. Even if my confidence wasn’t the best at that age, she helped me with it so it felt good going to her for a haircut. When I came to the U.S., the haircuts were pricier and my parents kinda didn’t want to pay for them. Knowing how creative I was and how I wanted to take everything upon myself, my parents came to me with scissors and clippers and asked if I wanted to cut it myself. That’s how it all started, I started cutting my own hair. Then I just wanted to get better and better.
CHERIN: Amazing. You and I met in beauty school and I used to cut everyone’s hair there, but when you started school, everyone was like, “Sal’s gonna cut my hair.” I was like what? I remember thinking to myself, “Sal’s really good! We’re gonna work together someday.” I thought you were an amazing barber.
CHERIN: I’ll never forget that.
SAL: When I started school, you were ahead of me. So my memory of you was this confident girl. I thought she owns it, she knows what she’s doing and even if she didn’t, she asks questions. When you left, I was honored that you gave me your clients. I was like, “What?! She’s gonna give me all her cool clients?”
CHERIN: And now we’re still sharing our clients!
SAL: Yeah. You were the one in school doing all the cool haircuts and you had all the cool clients.
CHERIN: Awww, that’s really cute. It’s been really fun traveling together. I’m grateful that we have a solid team. What’s been nice about being able to start working with you is we’re focusing on sharing our energy with everybody, taking it from city to city, and meeting all these amazing people. What’s your takeaway from our traveling and hopping around everywhere?
SAL: Everything is beautiful. I think it’s a continuation of what I just talked about. You and I are both passionate about what we’re doing and we want to create and be artists. We don’t want to be seen as the average hair dresser, but rather as artists that go out into the world and let their art be seen. What’s beautiful is that we both knew that from the beginning and we found each other again on our paths, always kept each other in mind, and pushed each other. And now that we’re traveling, it’s beautiful because we’re able to get our art work out there to a bigger audience. It’s really beautiful to touch people and make them feel good by giving them makeovers. It’s really awesome.
CHERIN: Omg, it’s SO awesome. One of the things I enjoy is that we can be honest with clients about what we think the best decision is for them. That’s been really fun—the entire process, from consultation to before/after photos. Thank god you’re an amazing photographer, I’m so grateful!
SAL: It’s a blessing to be able to have the power to empower people. That’s what makes me happy about you and I. I feel like others view it as a business. But people gravitate towards us because we give them a change, or give them that power to change. I think hair is a reflection of the changes in their life. A lot of people have been doing the same thing for so long and don’t have the courage to make that jump. With hair, it becomes reality. Once you get your hair done, you have this confidence about yourself. It’s beautiful.
CHERIN: It’s an instant feeling of that change, right?
SAL: Yeah, and you feel like you can take over the world.
CHERIN: Well now that I know the story of how you became a hairdresser, that’s your spirit animal, ever since you were a kid. It’s so cute.
SAL: Haha! It’s funny. I never knew what I wanted to do. I was into fashion and art, but I was also into psychology and sociology. I didn’t know how to balance the two—art or helping people? Back then when I was doing hair, it was a way for me to make money. The more I kept doing it, people opened up to me and I helped them with their own problems. Hair was a tool for me to help them. At that point, I was like screw fashion, sociology and psychology—I just want to do hair and help people. What do you take from that?
CHERIN: I studied psychology so I always knew that I liked people and wanted to do something in my career that involved working with people. It’s the memory of going to the beauty school that made me realize I wanted to do something different. I didn’t start doing hair really young like you did, but I knew if I practiced and worked hard enough I could do it. I’ll never forget the first day of beauty school, when they asked us to do braids on our dolls’ heads, I felt so vulnerable. The girl next to me was doing crazy cornrow designs, and I was there trying to make my pigtails look super lit, and feeling like this is so hard. She was really killing it on her braids and I was not. I’ll never forget that feeling, thinking I could either let this be the end of it because I’m so embarrassed or keep practicing and working hard and learn to do all of it as much as I can. The biggest lesson from that was realizing that the more heads of hair that I got to do then I could focus on creating my craft. It’s is such a fun evolution of career, right?! Going from Beverly Hills to Arts District has been so cool. I’m grateful you’re the one I got to do that move with because’s it such a big change and I think we’re probably one of the first to leave Beverly Hills for the Arts District. It’s such a different world now, we have Instagram, so everyone’ll know where we are.
THROWBACK THURSDAY❤️ Looking back into my work from about a year and a half ago…you learn a lot from looking at your own progress, there's no mistakes, you fail here you learn, you fail there you learn some more. I look forward to being a better version of myself on my work & on life in general. Thank you all who have supported me since I was 13 doing haircuts in my garage and onwards. I love you all❤️ #salsalhair #throwback #memories thank you
SAL: Haha, true. I remember one time you shared with me, you said, “Sal, I’m not the best colorist out there, but I’m working on it and I will definitely get better.” And looking back, you have grown so much. The both of us have grown together. It’s cool to see how we’ve developed. We’ve opened the doors to this idea that it’s not only about Beverly Hills, it’s about Los Angeles. We’re expanding hair and taking it to other places. It’s cool that we can market and brand ourselves as a team, and take it to other cities. I’m excited to see where else it’s gonna go.
CHERIN: Oh my gosh, same! Well, I love you so much. And I’ll see you on Wednesday.
SAL: Bye Cherin! Love you too!