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Behind the Brand: Shari Harbinger of DevaCurl
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Behind the Brand: Shari Harbinger of DevaCurl

#CareerGoals and DevaCurl 101, ahead

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Ever wonder who the faces are behind the amazing beauty brands you know and love? Well, now's your chance to meet them! In this Influenster series Behind the Brand, we chat with some of the women who keep our favorite companies going. These amazing women bring products and services from concept straight to the shelves.

In this edition of our series, we're spotlighting Shari Harbinger, the VP of Academy Education at DevaCurl. She first began her career with global hair care giant, Clairol Inc., and was later recruited by Schwarzkopf Inc. as a platform artist and educator while simultaneously working as a director for upscale Manhattan salons. From there she worked her way up to becoming Director of Education for The Paramount Beauty Companies before joining Devachan Salon where she partnered with existing co-founders to develop the DevaCurl brand. Her expertise and leadership abilities helped build the brand that DevaCurl is today. 

With 25 years of experience under her belt, we had to tap into all things #girlboss and curly hair related. Here's what Shari has to say.

Tell us about your role at DevaCurl. What is your day-to-day like?

"As one of the original DevaCurl members, I contributed to the inception and creation of the brand as well as the company’s foundational and guiding principles that remain with us today as the core of the brand. Currently, I am the VP of Academy Education. I oversee all aspects of DevaCurl education and have most recently been instrumental in DevaCurl’s foray into the world of digital learning, revolutionizing the brand’s educational offerings for professionals. I continue to contribute to DevaCurl development of innovation through products, services, and training. I lead talent development in our flagship salons and academy as well."

How did you get to where you are now in your career? Did you always want to work in/with salons and haircare?

"No. I left college with a BA in Management in The Arts and as a classical pianist; I thought I might pursue a career in the music industry. Yet I was always immersed in fashion and hair as early as eight years old. During that time, I was convinced that I could successfully cut my neighbor’s bangs. Needless to say, I almost lost my friendship but my love of hair was undeniable and I continued to find ways to be creative and fashionable with my own look and my hair. When the curling iron and hot rollers became trendy, you would find me curling my hair, not realizing I actually had a natural wave the entire time."

Devachan Salon Soho

What is your favorite part of the job? What keeps you inspired?

"Mentoring and inspiring the Devachan stylists and students at our academies always inspires me. I love to stay connected to the very people who use their heart and hands to change the world, the passionate curl stylists. I know that I am leaving behind a legacy that will forever be etched in the beauty industry and continue to show stylists the value of the client/stylist relationship with curls. The fact that a small group of stylists got together 20 years ago and created a movement that has changed so many lives is something that makes me very proud."

Was there a point in time when you struggled with your curls? How did you learn to love them?

"Of course I struggled, from a very young age when I too didn’t realize that the bends in my hair were actually 'waves waiting to happen.'"  It wasn’t until I partnered with the founders of DevaCurl that I truly came to understand the plight of the curly girl. From helping to create the first ever non-lathering sulfate free cleanser to the entire existing franchise today, I didn’t realize that the damaging effects of harsh and dehydrating ingredients and without styling guidance it was near impossible to love my curls. The groundbreaking approach to styling, which we tested on ourselves, was designed to guide the client to a successful start-to-finish home maintenance approach. I remember the day we landed our scrunch and style approach. I was convinced that we hit the 'mother load' and I was right! I remembered thinking to myself how it was no accident that I landed a career with DevaCurl. I was home!"

Influensters will soon be receiving Buildup Buster, the first-ever micellar water treatment for hair. What makes this product so special?

"Buildup is everywhere—products that leave behind residue (think conditioners and stylers with silicones, oils and ingredients in dry shampoo), environmental stressors, dirt or dust in the air, and even your shower water that can contain hard water minerals lead to buildup. This buildup can often cause itchiness at the scalp and wreak havoc on the hair, by creating a barrier that prevents moisture from penetrating the hair shaft, which curly hair needs most! Buildup Buster, a Micellar Water Cleansing Serum, is the first step in our new Bounce Back Transformation Service and the first to bring Micellar Technology from skincare to hair care. Buildup Buster’s powerful yet gentle, deep cleansing formula thoroughly removes buildup without stripping away the essential moisture curly hair needs. Plus, it’s safe for color-treated hair! How exactly you might ask? A micelle is a type of molecule cluster. One end of each molecule has a hydrophilic head, which loves water.  The other end has hydrophobic tail, which hates water. When rinsing, the water-hating tails attract the dirt and buildup like a magnet, which then creates the cluster that surrounds the dirt, lifting it and rinsing away for gentle removal. Abyssinian Seed Oil moisturizes, boosts shine and protects the scalp.  Jojoba softens, conditions curls, and soothes the scalp. While our regular No-Poo and Low-Poo cleansers are for daily use, Buildup Buster is a deep cleansing serum designed for weekly to bi-monthly use."

DevaCurl

According to the DevaCurl blog, the launch of Buildup Buster “marks the launch of a new category: Treatments.” This is truly exciting news. What can we expect from this new product line?  

"Our new treatment category, starting with the launch of Buildup Buster, and leading into more launches over the coming months, will contain products that are crafted from a carefully selected combination of ingredients to gain restorative, revitalizing or strengthening benefits at a deeper level. Currently, our products are designed for daily, everyday use, but these treatment products are designed to be supercharged and used once a week."

Fill us in on your top 3-5 favorite DevaCurl products. Why do you love them?

"My hair is wavy and I love volume! My personal favorites for my texture are the following: Frizz Free Volumizing Foam, for added lift at the crown. I apply this first. Then, Wave Maker for a creamy soft hold, applied from mid-lengths to ends before scrunching upward. Then I scrunch with our DevaTowel, a microfiber towel to remove just enough excess water before applying Light Defining Gel, which holds waves in place, gives them definition and is great for all textures. I also love Mist-er Right. It was the first product ever created to revitalize “tired curls” but has become a staple for all types to reactivate any product and provide extended wear.  Lastly, I just love all of the One Condition products, Delight, Original and Decadence. At DevaCurl, we are pretty much in agreement that if you were stranded on a desert island and had only one DevaCurl product, it would be One Condition because the first priority for all textured hair is moisture, then definition and/or hold. Moisture springs tired curls back to life and enhance the curl pattern naturally. While there is no holding property to our conditioners, we can always rely on clipping at the crown and refraining from touching the hair so as not to disturb the curls or the set. It is a multi-functional product and often we leave some in during the rinsing process if the hair craves a little extra moisture."

curly hair
Courtesy of @DevaCurl_Academy

What is the best way to figure out exactly what type of curls you have? How many types are there?

"There are infinite numbers of variations in the curl spectrum, but here are a few tips to identify your type: Wavy—texture moves like a soft S-shape. She relies on hot tools for a polished finished look and is typically looking for body and fullness without frizz. Priority: Volume and frizz control. Curly—Curl diameter varies, curl concerns are frizz, tangles and the dreaded triangle haircut. Priority: Moisture and definition. Super curly—Curls are tight, very tight or a combination of patterns. She conditions more than she cleanses, she is looking for definition, shine and intense moisture. Priority: Moisture and curl control."

What are your top five do’s and don’ts when it comes to caring for curls?

DO:

  1. Do use your fingers instead of a comb when detangling wet hair
  2. Do get a DevaCut, customized for your curly type and needs.
  3. Do kick the shampoo habit and get a customized DevaCurl No-Poo Transformation Service
  4. Do learn as much as you can about your curl type, how to work with your hair and which products are best.
  5. Do find a qualified stylist on the DevaCurl Stylist Finder.

DON'T:

  1. Don’t mix DevaCurl with other products and expect the same awesome results
  2. Don’t get your hair cut wet. It is impossible to see the true behavior of the curls when wet.
  3. Don’t abuse hot tools!
  4. Don’t assume that every stylist can cut curly hair. If they insist on cutting wet, walk away

Why is it so important to get a cut from a stylist trained to cut curls?

"Deva trained stylists are committed to serving For All Curl Kind through ongoing product and service training. They believe in the celebration of all textures and individuality and that our products and techniques transform lives through education and understanding. They believe there is a strong, interwoven connection between a client’s hair and her life and with a customized daily routine and smart product selection they can coach their clients and create a transformative, life-changing experience."

DevaCurl’s stylist certification program is a first-of-its-kind program. Why was it so important to the brand to specifically train stylists and certify them?

"Becoming Deva Certified provides credibility. The Deva Certification program, unlike our other programs, is based on performance and demonstrates a whole new level of expertise. In addition to the intense training and deeper understanding of the fundamentals of cutting, coloring and styling curly hair, artists who we certify, earn a personalized Deva Certified which gives them elevated status on the DevaCurl Stylist Finder on our website and allows clients searching for an expert to distinguish from those who have attended other programs and those who have actually tested for their designation and passed. Getting certified is taking it to the next level. It's so much more than just doing hair or attending a program."

Have you used any of the DevaCurl products? We're curious to know! Tell us about your experience with them in the comments below!

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