Hairdresser Spotlight: Mona Baltazar
Mona has earned a reputation as a curl whisperer. Her curly cuts are so covetable that they’ve even developed a name, The Mona Cut. Search this as an Instagram hashtag, and you’ll unearth over 1,700 unique images of curls in all shapes and sizes. We caught up with her at Davide Hair Studio in New York City, where she currently cuts, to ask her about the origins of her hair story.
Now that I’ve found the“Mona Cut” as a way to brand myself, people come to me asking for it.
Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in the Philippines. When I was about 11 my family moved to San Jose, California. I’ve been living here in New York and New Jersey for 11 years now.
How did you end up in New York?
I came here to go to FIT. I thought I was going to give up hairstyling and go into fashion. I did three semesters, and by the fourth, I chose to continue with hairdressing.
How did you get into hairdressing?
No one in my family was a hairdresser – although my younger sister is now, because I inspired her to be one. It was career day at school, and there was a pamphlet with this guy on it with super-long hair looking really fierce, and I thought, “What is he doing in cosmetology?” I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into, but I went to the orientation, and the moment I started school I realized that I could actually do this and it was fun.
That’s great that you got your sister into it; does she cut hair too?
My sister works more with relaxers and braids on natural hair. I actually made the mistake of cutting her hair badly in beauty school when she was in high school. She was so upset and crying, so I had to learn how to put extensions into her hair. This was before special extension glue, so I had to use a crochet braid. One of the educators gave me a video and told me to sit in a room and learn. My sister ended up wearing it that way for a few years until her hair grew out. She still wears full locks, and can braid her own hair now.
How did you start working with curls?
Honestly, I’ve always had a love for curly hair. After high school in 1997, I got my first perm. I rocked my hair like that for years, through college. One of the hairdressers I worked for was the king of perms. People thought it was natural. Two-and-a-half years ago I was in the right place at the right moment; there was a little pause in my career because I had just given birth, and I had a time to re-think everything and start speaking to the universe. I was introduced to a curly girl, Curly Edgy (https://www.instagram.com/curly.edgy/) who, at the time, had just started her blog (she’s now a big blogger in the curly community). I trimmed her hair the best way I could think of – dry – and I have not changed my technique since. That was my introduction to cutting curls and I just kept moving forward. Obviously, social media helped a lot because the curly girl movement was really getting started, and I think seeing that someone could really cut their hair was important. For a while, I took models just to have someone to cut, and after that, the curly community just came and didn’t stop. Now curly hair is about 90% of what I do, although I wouldn’t call myself a specialist; I just cut curly hair.
Anyone who has
the technical ability or the vision to understand the structure of a haircut can learn different types of cutting.
It used to be that people came to me asking for a specific cut and I’d have to say, “I don’t do that cut.” Now that I’ve found the “Mona Cut” as a way to brand myself, people come to me asking for it. Sometimes people have a texture that they think I don’t do, but they’ll take a chance and I tell them that I do cut their texture, I just may not have a lot of it in my portfolio. At the end of the day, I cut hair.
You’re right: At the end of the day, it is just hair.
Anyone who has the technical ability or the vision to understand the structure of a haircut can learn different types of cutting. A woman with fine hair will explain her lack of volume, so you create a nice structured bob for her. You cannot layer it; everything has to be horizontal. Hair is hair, and there are different versions of it, which is why I try not to put myself in one category. I’m a hairstylist, I just happen to post curly hair because it’s in demand. At the same time, I appreciate learning new things.
What’s your favorite thing about being a hairstylist?
I like being a hairstylist now, just because the clientele is so much more appreciative of their hair how they feeling when they leave the chair.
I use it on my hair, my clients’ hair...
I don’t feel guilty washing my daughter’s hair every day. It’s so easy.
Do you have a favorite Hairstory product?
First and foremost: New Wash. I use it on my hair; I use it on my clients’ hair; I love it. It’s lightweight; I don’t feel guilty washing my or my daughter’s hair every day. It’s so easy. As far as styling goes, I love Dressed Up. I love Hair Balm too (everyone does), but I like Dressed Up just because it works really well for my fine to medium textured clients. It has a lot of hold. It can either stay light, or you can build it up.
Follow Mona on Instagram: @themonacut https://www.instagram.com/themonacut/