Ever wondered why Selena Gomez is the most-followed person on Instagram? Us too. While we have no pudding of proof, we’d like to think celebrity hairstylist Marissa Marino’s magic touch contributes to the IG queen’s popularity. Long before going on tour with Selena and creating crowd-pleasing looks for the songstress nightly (plus switching up her style with these envy-inducing bangs), Marissa marveled at manes. From learning how to braid at the age of 7, she went on to assist Ken Paves at the age of 21. Now, the doyen of ‘dos turns out young Hollywood’s tresses as a senior stylist at Nine Zero One Salon. Here, Marissa retraces her steps from fresh-out-of-cosmetology-school to soaring success for us.
How did you get your start in the industry?
My love of hair started when I was very young. I would style anyone’s hair who would let me. My mom, sisters, friends, Barbie dolls, it didn’t matter as long as they had hair. As I got older I started styling friends’ hair for prom and cheerleading competitions and also coloring their hair out of boxes from the grocery store. Some were successes and some were absolute nightmares! I had never thought about it as a career until someone suggested it to me when I was a senior in high school. My dad wasn’t too thrilled about it and made me go to college first. When I finished and said “Now can I got to cosmetology school?” His response was “You still want to do that?!” Yes. I most definitely did.
I graduated cosmetology school in February and by April I was working as Ken Paves’ assistant. I was 21-years-old and it was all very surreal. He chose me out of 40 other applicants in the quest to become his right hand. To this day I am beyond grateful for everything he taught me, not just in the industry, but also in life. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor to prepare me for the career that lay ahead of me.
What was one of your biggest career challenges and how did you overcome it?
I think my biggest challenge was to overcome my shyness. I have been very shy and quiet my entire life, which is something that doesn’t really go along with this industry. I have definitely come out of my shell as I have gotten older and more confident. But I’ve also learned to embrace that about myself. There are different types of clients for every type of stylist. My clients love and appreciate me for who I am and that’s all I can ask for.
Who are some role models who have inspired you?
When I’m not on the road, I work at Nine Zero One Salon in West Hollywood. We have such a dynamic group of stylists that I am honestly inspired by each and every one of them. They all bring something different to the table and are all constantly on a mission to be better than they were yesterday. They definitely keep me inspired and moving forward.
Do you have a signature look or style that you are known for?
Braids! I have been known for braids my entire life. When I was 7-years-old I went to a sleepover and I was the only one who didn’t know how to braid. The girl’s aunt sat there with me until I could do it and it became an obsession within me after that. I like to think I can do many other styles, but it always comes back to, “She does the best braids!”
What was your last major makeover that you’ve done?
I’ve actually done a few while on the road! I cut Selena [Gomez’s] bangs, which completely changed her entire look. Also her assistant, Theresa, had never colored her hair and FINALLY let me balayage it (it looks amazing!). Her cousin, Brooke, let me turn her into a strawberry blonde after some convincing (it also looks amazing!)
Which hair products or tools are always in your kit?
I always have Pantene’s Airspray Hair Spray. It’s the first alcohol-free aerosol which makes it hold without being sticky or building up on the hair. I definitely love my Mason Pearson and wide tooth Rake Comb. They take my styles to the next level, I can’t do anything without them!
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Keep working hard and doing what you’re doing. Soak every moment up and learn everything you can. You can’t even imagine yet where you’ll be in 10 years! It will all be worth it.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received? What advice would you give to new stylists?
Never turn down work. If your number one goal is to be successful, then skip the dinner party and take that extra last-minute client. There will come a time when you don’t need to do that anymore, but the beginning is not that time. It’s an ongoing joke that I never say no. That alone has gotten me farther in life than anything.
What is the next chapter for you?
I have always been fortunate enough to be able to work in a salon as well as freelance. Salon has always taken precedence but in the last year or so I have been feeling that I am ready to make freelance work the priority. We will see how I feel when I come back from tour though. I might just be thankful for routine at that point!
Follow @_marissamarino for more #manespiration.