For Ursula Stephen, the woman behind some of Rihanna’s most iconic hairstyles, timing is everything. Having worked with everyone from RiRi and Keyshia Cole to Emma Watson and Michelle Williams, the celeb hair guru cut the ribbon to her first salon, Ursula Stephen: The Salon on Tuesday evening (May 7).
After years of people asking her to open a shop, the expert of trendy tresses decided that now was the right time for her. “People have been trying to get me to open a salon since I was 17, ” the New York native said. “The location dropped in my lap. I couldn’t say no, and I was ready for my next chapter.”
As women with short cuts, box braids, weaves and naturals continued to pile in to the Brooklyn location on Lafayette Avenue, Stephen reiterated what was apparent: When it comes to doing your do’s the right way, she emphasized the importance of doing it for you. “Right now it’s all about individual style. The trends have been set solidly five or six years ago,” she explained. “People are still rocking it—the short hair, the braids. [They’re] just pushing the bar, finding what fits them.”
With the salon’s opening, Stephen’s schedule has gotten just a little more hectic. It takes skill to balance managing a business all the while continuing to style the folks who helped her to get where she is today. But the fierce Ms. Stephen knows she can do it. When asked if she plans to still work with celeb friends, she quickly responded, “Absolutely. This is just another chapter in my life. I’m not giving anything up for it. It’s all going to balance out.”
With such an A-list clientele, Stephen is in high demand. She explains that she’s been approached on multiple occasions by anxious hair enthusiasts wondering whether or not she’ll expand her franchise. Though she plans on taking it one step at a time, she ultimately sees the development of more salons in her future. “I keep saying it’s my first salon, so I guess I’m putting into the universe that I’m going to do more. If it’s in the cards, I’ll roll with it.” — Shannon Powell