“Doing Hair is Very Physical”: Q&A with Alumna Roni Bryson

Roni Bryson graduated from Newport Harbor High School in 2002. Born and raised in Newport Beach, she has taken her passion for hair and made it her job. A mother of three, she has worked hard to show her kids it’s possible to balance a home life and her professional dreams. Bryson spoke with the Beacon‘s Mazzy Immegart about her time at Newport Harbor, her career and the ups and downs she experienced in 2020.

MI: Tell me about yourself. What you do for a living? 

RB: I am a full-time mom of three and a hairdresser. I was born and raised in Newport Beach, and I love it here. I don’t see myself going very far because most of my family lives here too.

MI: How was your experience at Newport Harbor? 

RB: My experience at NHHS was good — well, mostly. I guess there was the occasional mean girl, but overall I loved high school. I had lots of friends, and life was good. I mean, what’s not to like when you get to hang out with your friends all the time and have no adult responsibilities yet. I went to all the dances and lots of parties. Class time was not my favorite; I failed Spanish 1 twice, so I did ditch occasionally, but don’t tell my kids that. 

MI: Will your kids be going to Harbor?

RB: I have three kids. Macey, 14, [is a] freshman at NHHS. Kinsley, sixth grade and Newport Heights, and Everit, five — he is in preschool. All of my kids will go to NHHS as long as we don’t move. 

MI: What year did you graduate? Do we know of any familiar faces you graduated with? 

RB: I graduated in 2002. I went to school with [teacher and water polo coach] Ross Sinclair, but he wasn’t in my year. I also went to school with the Greggs, and one of them is married to [teacher and surf coach] Mr. Burns, who I believe also went there!

MI: How did you get into doing hair?

RB: Before I did hair, I was a manager at Wells Fargo. I loved that, but the job was so demanding. Having two children at that time, I wasn’t able to be with them as much as I wanted to, so it was time for a career change. So cosmetology it was. The schedule was much more flexible, and I was able to make my own hours and work when it was convenient for me.

MI: Was that something you’d always wanted to do? 

RB: To be honest, I never wanted to be a hairdresser. My mom was a hairdresser, and I never wanted to be like her. When I left the bank, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, so I prayed about it. The next few days I would wake up with this passion for hair. It was the weirdest thing, but I followed it. I have always been very creative and I love doing hands-on stuff, so the possibility of me doing hair wasn’t out of the question. I went to beauty school, and I have never looked back. It was the best career decision I have ever made. 

MI: Is this a career that runs in your family?

RB: I have so many hairdressers in my family! My mom, although she doesn’t do much anymore. My uncle Dusty, who is the number-one hair stylist in Orange County and has been for years. He is amazing, and he is who taught me everything. I assisted him for four years before I went on my own. My uncle Don, who owns a salon in Long Beach, and I have three cousins who work in OC and LA. Two of my cousins and I were in beauty school together. 

MI: What credentials and licenses do you have in fields related to hair styling?

RB: I have a cosmetology license and my business license. 

MI: What do you like the most about your job? 

RB: I love the flexibility my job gives me. It allows me to always be there for any event and all of my kids’ stuff. I can take vacation when I want and work when I need to. I make great money while being able to be creative and make other people look and feel their best.

MI: What are your goals for the future? 

RB: This year has been a weird one, to say the least. I was at my salon, and when it closed we built a salon in my garage. That was amazing until my neighbor reported it to the city. I am currently only working Saturdays. I guess it just makes me think about the future and what this industry might look like if we continue down this path of unknown. There is so much uncertainty in this time. However, one thing I know is that doing hair is very physical. I know that it’s not something I can do forever. So I guess my goal would be to find a way that I can make an income without being in the salon physically doing hair.