Cuba Welcomes Beauty: Nick Stenson, Tony Odisho & Intercoiffure

Oh, Cuba…#ISeeYourBeauty!

When my friend Tony Odisho, master stylist and a member of the prestigious Intercoiffure America-Canada, invited me to collaborate on the first ever opportunity to bring Cuba to the American beauty industry, I knew it was the chance of a lifetime!

Shooting in Old Havana

Shooting in Old Havana

Tony and I traveled, together with 15 artists from around the USA, on behalf of FAC,  an artistic project promoted by the need to rescue, support and promote the work of artists from all branches of art.  We were immediately welcomed into a warm, vibrant and humble culture.

Because of trade restrictions, these well loved vintage cars are an everyday sight in Havana.

Because of trade restrictions, these well loved vintage cars are an everyday sight in Havana.

And what a welcome it was! Old Havana’s colorful Arte Corte hairdressing salon and beauty school, along with its equally colorful founder and proprietor Gilberto Valladares (Papito), opened its doors to us. Papito’s beauty school students even helped with our prep! Part salon and part interactive museum, visitors to Papito’s may view antique scissors, razors, mirrors, shaving brushes, combs, and advertisements, along with original Cuban art  focusing on hairdressing. You can imagine what a thrill that was for those of us in the business!

Cuba held many surprises!

Cuba held many surprises!

Because the country has been closed for trade with the U.S. since 1959, time seems to have stood still. Older cars, clothing and ways of life are reflected in a simpler, slower lifestyle. All the hair designs I created gave a nod to the classic, almost vintage styles out of respect for the culture. I felt they best brought out the beauty that is Cuba.

Evidence of history and politics at every turn

Evidence of history and politics at every turn

While friend and photographer Nicolas De Panam scouted Old Havana’s streets for the most delicious locations, makeup artist Sherri Jessee and local fashion stylists, jewelry makers and models helped us bring our stories to life.  Our visit will culminate in an editorial spread that we can’t wait to show you later this spring!

We can't wait for you to see the editorial layout! Watch for it this spring!

We can’t wait for you to see the editorial layout! Watch for it this spring!

Though our aim in Cuba was to transform with the skills we use each day, we were ourselves transformed in the process. Our experience was at once joyous and humbling. But after all, that’s the impact beauty has on each of us as we create each day, isn’t it? With each new insight, we are forever changed.

Is Cuba on your bucket list? I’d love to know in the comments.