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Mane Master Kristin Heitkotter On the Importance of Setiquette and Staying Relevant

Mane Master and Midwest native Kristin Heitkotter started her career in the beauty industry in Chicago working as an in-house hairstylist for the Oprah Winfrey show, but years before even landing her first gig, Heitkotter knew she was destined to work as a stylist. Below, Kristin gets real with us on how she went from spending her childhood doing her family’s, doll’s and babysitters’ hair to building a career as a celebrity, editorial and red carpet hair stylist and groomer. 

kristin heitkotter kiernan shipka

(via Kristin Heitkotter)

How did you get your start in the hair industry?

When I was a kid I always did the hair of my neighbors, cousins and dolls – basically whoever would have me. And when everyone else was saying they wanted to be a vet or teacher, I always said I wanted to be a hairstylist. I had one babysitter that had long hair, so of course I would only want her to babysit me because she let me give her makeovers every time she watched me. I knew I wanted to go to beauty school, so as soon as I could, I went. I’ve been living my hair dream ever since.   


What was your biggest career challenge and how did you overcome it? 

In the last five years, the competition has drastically increased in the beauty industry and there are talented artists out there willing to work for free. It’s incredibly difficult to compete with. But listen, I don’t hate anyone for their hustle and if Instagram is your way of getting jobs, more power to you. At the end of the day, we have all been on the grind in some way or another. And I especially can’t complain about how much attention social media has brought back to the beauty industry. It’s very rewarding to see all the talented artists out there with a platform to present their craft.

kristin heitkotter editorial

(via Kristin Heitkotter)


Who are some role models that have inspired you?

My biggest career inspiration and role model has been Orlando Pita.  A couple of years after I moved to Los Angeles, I was asked to do hair for Camila Alves who was hosting a TV show on Bravo called Shear Genius. I found out that Orlando was going to be the mentor for the contestants and I was thrilled. I got to work with him on that show for about nine weeks and he taught me so many invaluable things during that time and all the years since then. He is such a wonderful teacher and mentor. I have continued working on his core team for fashion week ever since. This year marks my 16th season being on his team and I learn something new from him every year. I couldn’t be more grateful for him sharing his knowledge with me.   


Do you have a signature style or look that you are known for?

Braids. All kinds of braids. I love taking inspiration from fashion week looks and turning them into my own red carpet creations.


What was the last major hair makeover that you’ve done?

Taking Gina Rodriquez’s hair from a shoulder length bob to waist length boxer braids for Drop the Mic. 

kristin heitkotter camila alves 1


kristin heitkotter camila alves

(via Kristin Heitkotter)

Which hair products and tools are always in your kit?

Orlando Pita Play The Gloss Up Weightless Polishing Cream, Orlando Pita Play Body Breakthrough Volume Boosting Hairspray, Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, Mason Pearson Popular Mixture Bristle Brush, T3 Micro Irons, gHd hair dryer and Laced Hair Extensions


Who are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow?



What app do you use most?  

Spotify – in my next life I may come back as a DJ because my playlists are just THAT good.


How has social media impacted the industry and what’s your advice to stylists who utilize their Instagram accounts?

I think I briefly touched on this earlier, social media has allowed some of the most talented artists to be discovered and that’s awesome. But it’s also greatly increased the competition out there and created situations where artists can work for free. My advice to artists utilizing their social media to promote themselves is to be AUTHENTIC! Don’t present something on Instagram that doesn’t reflect your actual skill or style. 

kristin heitkotter tom payne

 (via Kristin Heitkotter)

What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?

I would tell myself to be more flexible with the trends. Pay attention to what’s next. It was Instagram x years ago – what’s next? Stay relevant. At the end of the day you have to be good at your craft but you also have to keep with the times. 


What advice would you give to up and coming stylists?

I really think it’s all about “setiquette” aka – your set etiquette. Stylists: always remember to have a good attitude, be a team player, be good at what you do, and always show up on time!

kristin heitkotter editorial hairstylist


How do you balance work and personal life?

Being in the industry has given me the privilege to travel the world with my clients, which has been so lovely. But since I love to say “yes” and find myself working through most weekends, there are certain times during the year that I am adamant about my time off. I need a few days to take care of myself and I’m lucky enough to be able to do that at this point in my career.  


What is the next chapter for you?

I really love what I’m doing right now. I get to work with celebrities for red carpet appearances, editorial shoots, etc. but I’m really looking forward to expressing my creativity in other ways – hopefully in the near future. I would love to design a hair accessories line and it’s my dream to work behind the scenes with an influential haircare brand like L’Oreal.

Want to know what some of our other Mane Masters have been up to? Click here.

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