Keya Neal

texture vs race


Founder and CEO of the Kolour Kulture, Keya Neal, breaks barriers by increasing inclusion within the beauty industry with her annual event series, "Texture vs. Race," hosted in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 24-26. Hairstylist for more than 25 years, Neal has dedicated her career to removing misconceptions about hair textures of all types and educating other stylists on how they can remove their fear of styling hair outside of their race. 


In 2019, Neal launched her inaugural "Texture vs. Race" educational event series hosted in New Orleans, Louisiana. Since then, Neal has broken tremendous ground by mentoring and guiding numerous top-tier hairstylists and aspiring hairstylists. During the "Texture vs. Race" event, Neal assists her attendees in learning about various hair textures, gain the proper education surrounding the hair industry while providing her attendees with the tools and resources to elevate their respective hair salons. 


The three-day event series includes hands-on education and a safe space for stylists to discuss concerns and curiosities. Neal wants stylists to gain from the event a sense of confidence in their styling skills despite their educational background. Along with Neal, seven distinguished educators will break down techniques, scientific approaches to hair health, and share tips on navigating through the hair industry.


"We are going to approach the entire spectrum of texture and we are going to have education on it all. We will have everything from cutting, coloring, styling, and understanding scalp and hair health. We will have several of the industry's best and top educators come and pour in. They can expect to explore the cultures and get a beautiful understanding," Neal said. 


Early in her career, Neal recognized her love for hair through her eagerness to learn all hair types. She always felt something was missing from her experience as a stylist. Neal started to travel to predominantly white hair shows to gain more exposure and experience in the hair industry. She soon realized that there were many elements to the beauty industry that she was unaware of, like skill monetization and lack of diversity within the bigger hair shows. 


"I knew that I wanted to do more but I still had a traditional Black salon. However, as I matured in the industry I started to go to hair shows like the Premiere Hair Show in Orlando and International Beauty Show in New York. I wanted to go to the bigger “white” hair shows where people were doing more than I was at that time," said Neal as she explained her reasoning to attend multicultural hair shows nationwide. "I always felt like I was missing something. International hair shows opened up my visual eye.  I realized that behind the curtains was more money to be made for all hairstylists. There was more education to be taught and learned."


According to the consumer data and marketing company, Statista, the global haircare market made $85.5 billion in 2017 and is expected to grow to $102 billion by 2024. Neal wants to motivate every stylist to maximize every opportunity they come across and turn their hairstyling skillsets into assets. While in hair school and after a stylist is granted their license, Neal emphasizes that hairstylists should choose a mentor willing to help them reach their highest potential.


"Don't let instructors lean into your fears. Their job is to get you a license, but your job is to get the full education," said Neal noting the importance of being proactive with your education. She supports stylists who are open to learning every facet, skill, and technique possible. "You have to be intentional about being proactive and speak to that. It's your responsibility to be intentional about your future in this industry."


If you want to learn more about Keya Neal and the "Texture vs. Race" event series, click here.

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