You may know Leanne Citrone as the female half of Los Angeles’ Andy Lecompte Salon and makeup artist Molly R. Stern as the tastemaker behind Cara Delevingne’s statement making eye makeup (or perhaps from her hilarious Instagram videos…?). Either way, these are two Los Angeles women who have made names for themselves and had fun in the process. So what happens when two of the city’s biggest beauty buffs get together to talk about hair? A conversation that inspires and makes us hungry (in both the figurative and literal sense). So read on to learn about the surprising dessert these two are obsessed with and the mishaps that happened during their early days in the salon.
MOLLY: Good morning!
LEANNE: Good morning Molly. I was just thinking about how you used to do hair originally.
MOLLY: That’s right! I worked in a salon, I went to hair school and everything. That was some of the best advice I received and it was from Jillian Dempsey! She actually used to be a hairdresser as well. She owned a salon in the 90’s and I wanted to be a makeup artist. She told me, “makeup is amazing, but hair is freedom. Having a license means you can go anywhere and have a career.”
LEANNE: How long did you do hair for?
MOLLY: A couple of years in the salon. Then I started doing hair freelance so that I could start doing hair and makeup. In the beginning of my career a lot of jobs were looking for people that could do both. I still consider myself a pretty good hairdresser. I mean, I’m a good cutter. I can’t really style hair at all.
LEANNE: Maybe you should do my hair and I’ll do your makeup.
MOLLY: I would be really into that. Do you like doing makeup?
LEANNE: No. But I feel like I could be really good at it.
MOLLY: Yeah, I bet you would be.
LEANNE: Maybe. I painted my manicurist’s toes one time. I did a different color on every toe and she wore it like that for two weeks.
MOLLY: Rainbow toes?
MOLLY: I love a good rainbow toe.
LEANNE: So maybe I could do a rainbow eye shadow and you could give me a haircut.
MOLLY: I could give you a haircut! But I hate cutting hair. I refuse to cut anyone’s hair.
LEANNE: Even your kids?
MOLLY: I will cut my kid’s hair! I like cutting my kid’s hair and giving them really weird, bad haircuts on purpose.
LEANNE: That’s the thing that is super interesting about us both. We are both parents. We both have kids, and we both are part of a different side of the same industry. I own a salon and I have a super structured schedule. I can book appointments 6 months out and I always know where I’m going to be. But you’re traveling, you’re on the go, you’re moving all over the place.
MOLLY: Yes! I’m about to leave this week actually.
LEANNE: So I think it’s fascinating, the balance of it all. I used to be on set, but then when I had kids I drifted away from that. I wanted the structure. I just wanted to be near home and have the consistency of being in the salon. When we opened the salon, I really wanted to run it, be there all the time, and have that base. Is it hard for you to balance everything with kids?
MOLLY: It’s only hard to balance my heartache because it’s so hard to leave them. As of late, it’s gotten even harder for them when I leave. But truthfully, I’ve been traveling since they were babies. I just keep trying to remind them that. My oldest is 10 and my youngest is 3, and it’s been so hard to leave lately. We talk on Skype. Thank god for Skype. I can see them and talk to them everyday. One of my clients said she’s never seen someone talk to their family as much as I do. I’m just obsessed with them.
LEANNE: It’s so interesting because you and I know so many of the same people, but we just met recently when we did a wedding together in Kentucky; which was so awesome by the way! I love the South.
MOLLY: I love the South when I’m with you!
LEANNE: I know I was really sad when you left. I didn’t know you loved donuts so much!
MOLLY: Oh I love donuts!
LEANNE: That was the best donut I’ve ever had!
LEANNE: Your assistant Loren and I googled best restaurant when we were there and this donut shop showed up second on the list. It was literally the best donut I’ve ever had.
MOLLY: Oh really?! It sounds good!
I want to know what do you love most about working in the salon? Is it the consistency? Because I’m envious of the structure.
LEANNE: Well I feel like I’m envious of your freedom to travel and explore. Working in the salon is nice because I’ve had most of my clients for a long time, some of them since I started doing hair in 1997. I met my husband in the salon. Actually when I met him I was doing this woman’s hair and she is still my client today, and that was in ’97. I love my clients and I love running my salon. I think I’m good at it. I hope I’m good at it! It works because I know what it’s like to be a stylist. My co-owner Andy [Lecompte] and I both really try hard to give people the freedom they want with their career. If a stylist wants to go on set, we really want to encourage them. Hair careers are these amazing things that take so much time and you can be so good in so many different ways. Some people do hair and makeup, some people just want to be in the salon, some want to only do grooming, some just style, there’s so many specialties and you can be so good in any way.
MOLLY: I know what you mean! I’ve been lucky enough to get to mentor a lot of high school kids (mostly about self esteem), but one of the things that I’ve had the chance to do is go to inner city schools and teach people about the life you can have through beauty and hair. I always encourage these high school kids to go and get their cosmetology license because there is so much you can do with it.
LEANNE: There are two receptionists that we’ve had that have gone from part time receptionists to full time hairstylists.
MOLLY: It’s a real opportunity career.
LEANNE: Yeah. It is. It can be evolved into anything you want it to be.
MOLLY: And you try to give the people in your shop the opportunity to discover what that is.
LEANNE: Yeah. We just want to encourage everyone to explore their careers, to express themselves as artists through hair, or to do whatever else they would like to do in addition to hair.
MOLLY: Like being a parent and working.
LEANNE: Yes. There are three moms in the salon as well as me. Some of them don’t work weekends because they want to be with their kids, and some of them do, but they take time to visit their kids after school. They are really able to shape their lives into what they want it to be.
MOLLY: And be an earner and provider for their family.
LEANNE: Yes. I also love that I get to connect with people every day. I may do 15 different clients in a day. I get to talk to them about anything and get so many different perspectives. It’s fascinating to see how even they all work their lives differently.
MOLLY: So beyond your talent, how do you inspire loyalty in your clients?
LEANNE: Don’t you feel like it’s connecting with the person? You just fall in love with them and they become your friend.
MOLLY: What about you do you reveal to your clients so that they fall in love with you? For me, (I try hard at this and I do not always pass the test), I try not to gossip. I’ll tell them as soon as I walk in that I don’t gossip. I always just try to be positive about people instead.
LEANNE: Don’t you think it’s also because you’re really funny? I mean, I don’t know what other people think, but I think we’re pretty funny!
MOLLY: We are pretty funny. You and I together are pretty funny! I had a good time at that wedding!
LEANNE: I have a question for you about social media. People reach out to me through email, Instagram, Facebook, from all over just to ask advice. I always try to be open to people that want to shadow me or ask me about their salons. Do you have a lot of that as well?
MOLLY: I have some, but I wish more people wanted to hang out with me and shadow me! That’s how I found Lauren, my wonderful assistant. She sought me out through Instagram.
LEANNE: I love that. I think it’s pretty amazing because I still find it unbelievable that people actually want to hear what I have to say.
MOLLY: I want to hear what you have to say! I want you to just keep talking and talking all day long…
LEANNE: Well, thank you! I love that we are able to make a difference. How did you start going to schools and talking to people there?
MOLLY: I got involved through the Just Keep Livin Foundation which was founded by Matthew McConaughey to help bring health and wellness to children. It’s targeted towards kids who maybe didn’t make the sports team, or aren’t the lead in the play. I wouldn’t say they are the misfits necessarily, but the kid’s who may not have a place to go. So they can go there and exercise, be active, and healthy. It is very health driven, but they also bring in motivational speakers. So I’ve gone in to talk about my career in beauty and how it’s given me such an incredible life and family where I have the opportunity to learn, travel, and meet people like you! I also work at my kid’s school with the 8th grade girls about self-esteem. We talk about changing; how we’re always changing and we never stop changing.
LEANNE: That’s so amazing, you’re so lucky! When I was in beauty school I remember a guy from New York had flown in to talk to us. It always stuck with me and I feel like it made a huge impact on my career. I’ve always wanted to get involved in teaching and be able to give back in the same way.
MOLLY: One time I went to a school and it was raining and a lot of the kids didn’t show up because it was during an elective period. So I show up and thee are only two boys there. The director came up to me and was like “I’m so sorry. I understand if you don’t want to talk to them…” and I was like “no, no! I’m here, of course I want to talk to them.” So I sat down with these two high school boys to tell them what cosmetology school did for me, because you never know, and maybe they can take away some of the lessons I learned in my career, like saying yes for example. I never thought I would go to cosmetology school, it was really my friend Jill that encouraged me to go, and one of the biggest things I learned from her was to always say yes to opportunities; because even if it doesn’t fit exactly into what your plan is, it could open doors and create a real future for you.
LEANNE: I feel like we make impacts on people’s lives and we don’t even know it. Sometimes I’m just rambling in the salon and realize someone listened to me and took my advice and I did really make an impact on them.
MOLLY: That’s true. I know what you’re saying.
LEANNE: I mean, I didn’t know you liked donuts so much!
MOLLY: I love donuts! I could eat them every day! I want to know what’s the biggest ‘do-nut’ you’ve had in the salon? Have you ever screwed up someone’s hair?
LEANNE: Well, I’m a 4th generation hairstylist. My sister and I do hair. My dad, aunt, uncle, and my grandmother all used to as well. My grandmother had 10 kids and 8 of them ended up hairstylists. My great grandfather came over on a boat from Poland to England and was working in a barbershop at only 13.
MOLLY: Oh my gosh! No way!
LEANNE: Yeah! So doing hair was just what I was meant to do, it just came naturally to me. I remember when I first got out of school I was cutting hair in my dad’s salon. I worked at the chair next to him and I remember I just couldn’t do it. I had no idea what I was doing and I literally started crying in the middle of the haircut and my dad had to finish it for me. What about you? What was your biggest mistake?
MOLLY: Well you know I asked you because I have one. I have like a dozen actually, but this one stands out in particular. I was cutting hair for Roz. She owned No Bones Salon and then Jill bought it from her. So I was cutting one of her client’s hair and I went crazy with the thinning shears. I ended up taking a chunk out of the top crown of her hair. Long story short, she ended up having to come back to have all of her hair cut short to match the big chunk I had taken out, and she had shoulder length hair when she came in! Roz had to give her a pixie cut. I was horrified.
LEANNE: That’s so sad!
MOLLY: I know! At least you had your dad to save you!
LEANNE: That’s true. At least both of our mistakes were way back in the beginning. Don’t you feel like even now you’re still learning and growing? I can look at a client I’ve done and then think, “Hm, maybe I should have done this, or changed that.” Do you ever think that when you see your clients on the red carpet?
MOLLY: For sure. Yes, to a fault. I think I can be overly critical on myself sometimes, we all can.
LEANNE: I was just thinking that too.
MOLLY: I want to know how you and Andy got together.
LEANNE: Well, I moved here in ’97. I always wanted to work for the person who cut Gwyneth Paltrow’s hair off when it was really short in Sliding Doors. I found out his name was Laurent and he owned Prive Salon. I was planning on moving to New York, but everything kept pushing me here. So I went to Prive to see if they were hiring. Laurent happened to be hiring an assistant and I got the job!
MOLLY: No way!
LEANNE: Yeah! I always joke that it was because he had a leopard chair he worked out of and I was wearing a leopard bra and my strap was peeking through in the interview. I started working for him and six months later Andy and Calista, who also works at my salon now, had just moved down from Santa Cruz. Calista ended up taking my job as an assistant and Andy went straight on the floor at the same time I did. We ended up leaving Prive and moving to Chris McMillan Salon. I loved working for Chris so much. He is so great.
MOLLY: Chris is amazing. He is hysterical. He could be a stand up comic.
LEANNE: I know. He is so great. Eventually, Andy and I decided to open up a salon. It’s worked out so great because we’re like Yin and Yang. All of my weaknesses are his strengths and vice versa.
MOLLY: That’s a great thing to look for in a partner.
LEANNE: It’s a great balance. He’s always traveling and on the go and I’m always here to hold it all together. I’m really lucky to have him as a partner. He’s the perfect partner for me.
MOLLY: Aww, love Andy!
LEANNE: So what do you see in your future?
MOLLY: Well, I would like to make more money. I do enjoy making money because it’s expensive to have children. I love having the opportunity to work a lot. I love inspiring people and helping people to feel better about themselves through beauty. I love to teach tutorials. I love to enhance what makes people feel good and encouraging people to get out of the cycle of only focusing on what it is we don’t like about ourselves.
LEANNE: I like that.
MOLLY: You have to love yourself. It’s something I need to work on myself.
LEANNE: I was just going to say the same thing.
MOLLY: I preach what I need to learn for sure.
LEANNE: I love that. Thank you Molly.