For the past 20 years, Neeko, one of the most sought after hairstylists in the fashion and entertainment industries, has used his marvelous styling talents to create innovative designs on many of the world’s most recognized tresses including Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Iman, Tyra Banks, Pink and many more.

Neeko jets between New York, Los Angeles and Europe, to perform his styling magic, A favorite on the popular sets of MTV, VH1, E! and the Tyra Banks show, Neeko has become an industry favorite for his streetwise, down-to-earth personal style and his impeccable professional results. In Winter 2006, Neeko opened his new flagship salon, Salon Sessions Studio in Old Town Pasadena.

Neeko is a top hollywood hair stylist. He works on print, video and on TV commercials. Fashion shows in New York, Los Angeles and New Dehli, India. Neeko has worked on many television and film projects including Halle Berry for Executive Decision and Swordfish. Neeko works with many top actresses including Jennifer Love Hewitt, Bai Ling, Careé Otis, Michael Michelle, Roselyn Sanchez, Naomi Campbell, Jada Pinkett,Vanessa Williams, Natassja Kinski and Vivica A. Fox. Recording artists including PINK, Sting, Mary J. Blige, Macy Gray, Nodesha, Tamia, Tweet, Fantasia and Carmen Electra. Reference/Credits: Halle Berry for all Revlon ads since 1998, as well as all of her fashion and lifestyle editorial. Nia Long for all editorial and most personal appearances. Tyra Banks for America’s Next Top Model, Victoria’s Secret and Cover Girl. Neeko’s work is often seen in Allure, Bazaar, In-Style Maxim, Shape, Stuff, Vibe and many other magazines.He works often with directors such as Dave Meyers, Hype Williams and Darren Grant. He works with photographers such as Annie Liebovitz, Andrew Macpherson, Nigel Barker, Firooz Zahedi, Daniella Federici and Kate Gardner.

 

You had an interesting start in the industry. Will you tell us what made you decide to enroll in Cosmetology school?

Well, how I got into the industry was like any other lost soul, searching for an outlet. I tried this and tried that but nothing really intrigued me; nothing humanly compensating to fulfill my hunger. So running out of options/choices I  got in trouble with the LAW and that threw me into the perfect circumstance leaving me with no more choices. So while I was caught up, GOD was the only light to look to. A youth counselor from church recommended beauty school! Well I went with GOD’s advice through this counselor and here I am. I was really challenged on contributing my gift through my hands.

 

This most definitely wasn’t your first trip to NAHA. You had several wins in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. What made you decide to submit this year? Do you foresee entering in the future?

This  is my 4th NAHA to be exact. I’m very competitive, but with myself.  I didn’t voluntarily enter, my business partner wanted to fill a few stations in our salon but needed a little fire blazing so one of my editorials, that we shot in the back of the salon, was entered. The paperwork was presented to me and I signed it not knowing exactly what the entry form was for.

His intent was to get some buzz for marketing purposes and social media exposure. In the future, yes I plan on entering through a few of salon sessions’ own up and coming stylist, maybe coaching a little bit or if we pull off an amazing shoot so be it.

 

 

What about the editorial category is so appealing to you?

The Editorial category is the only category that is not only judged by our HAIR INDUSTRY but it’s consumer magazines so it’s the category bigger than just hair, it’s fashion, it’s media, it’s consumers, its my clients. Other categories are for us the hairdressers, however editorial is over the top creative and has that super hero quality to it, but sometimes real people/clients don’t understand that.

 

Tell us about the NAHA mentorship contest you have going on right now.

The NAHA mentorship is about two things : I’m looking for a person who’s HUNGRY,  someone who I can spend a couple of days and shoot with them, share insight and motivate them.

 

Favorite Set to have worked on..

There have been many sets! I always enjoy working on a new set, that’s always my favorite but my all-time favorite has been America’s Next Top Model. I did hair for that show for 7 seasons and the people I met and worked with were just amazing. I was able to see everyone evolve, working with Miss jay, Mr. jay, and especially Tyra having worked with her since she was 17.  Being able to work together was like clowning all day long doing what we all love. Changing people’s lives through beauty.

 

 

Who is the most interesting celebrity you have worked with?

Too many to list. I’ve worked on the best of them from the launch of PINK, to experiencing MISSY ELLIOT’ s creativity, working with TYRA BANKS throughout her modeling career, and all the Armani shows in MILAN, but Halle Berry has been my signature! 22 years of  amazing short haircuts. She has done for my career what a dream only can fulfill. Amazing places I’ve seen and cultures that were explored. Unlimited doors that have been opened, opportunities, relationships, other artist development, Im just thankful for her.

 

When we ask students what their plan is for after school, we often hear,” Oh, I am just going to move to LA and work on movies and celebs.” What do you say to students who have this “hand it to me” attitude?

Well if you’re not doing celebs now you won’t be able to do celebs when you move here to LA. Let me explain, first celebrities already have established amazing hair dressers, plus theres only 10 celebs to every 10 million hair dressers, so let me give it to you as real as I can…If you’re not treating your existing clients like stars, then stars will never hear about your services (PERIOD!!!!) I got most of my celebrity clients when they were not yet established in the industry. I opened my gift to everyone (REAL REGULAR EVERYDAY PEOPLE) and didn’t take for granted the people in my chair during those moments. There are more everyday celebrities than only those in Hollywood.

 

What is the biggest mistake stylists tend to make?

Biggest mistakes stylist make are chasing where the grass seems like it’s the greenest. The grass is green where you water it so stay in one place and be content, exhaust your opportunities and treat everyone amazing, everyone!!! And most of all YOU ARE NOT THE STAR, you are the person that makes them shine!!!

 

You have so many irons in the fire… co-owning Salon Sessions, Editorial/ Session Work, Competing, Mentoring, etc. How do you balance everything?

I balance everything because I am fully at attention in my moments. When on set my mind is focused only on set, behind the chair I’m not on set anymore, I’m behind the chair. When I leave the salon I’M OUT! no more hair for the rest of the night. It’s called time manangement and living in the moment.

 

 

What are you most passionate about in our industry?

I am most passionate about being able to motivate dying souls. I wanna be able to speak LIFE into hairdresser’s careers and I can only do that if I can start doing some public speaking at schools or events whatever, whenever, wherever, hit me up if you’re reading this… I’m available to share my life with you. Contact Salon Sessions for further information.

 

 

 

Top 3 stylists I would love to work with:

I’m already working with them at SALON SESSIONS !

 

How do you use your talents to make a difference?

I use my talents to make a difference by giving back, I speak at beauty schools and graduations. With my hands I build bikes, motorcycles, off road vehicles and I also make furniture. With this talent I am part of a mission team that frequently goes into Uganda, Africa and I work with a non profit organization called WATOTO.

They actually care for children who are victims of the aids crisis there. WATOTO takes these children and places them with a mum (mother) and she raises them until they enter college. I give back by fund raising and visit Uganda making sure all the money raised is getting to the children. I also buy materials and actually get my hands dirty ( cementing, foundation work etc..) by building houses, classrooms, whatever we can afford.

I am also starting my own non profit organization called Bangs to Bridges foundation. I plan on raising monies to support beauty schools all over the world. Recently we were in Haiti scouting out some potential schools.

 

 

Have you ever had an “OMG, what the hell am I doing here?!” moment? Share.

My OMG moments happen during NEW YORK fashion week every season. I look around and the air is just amazing! It’s 5 minutes to complete the first looks and models are every where, outside smoking, texting, just all over the place. The team is taking models, running in from other runways and every product is being cocktailed to create the perfect canvas. OMG I love it! All the models you see in the magazines!  2nd look comes up and OMG!  A 10ft tall model is in front of me with her boobs in my face while I’m fixing her pony tail WOW!!!!!

 

 

 

Words to live by…

Keep on the straight path of your calling and destiny, don’t get caught up in the circles of distraction, bad relationships, abuse, and simply just passing time with regular shit (jobs). Chase your life down, and success is inevitable. You just have to show up every day with your purpose in heart, your dreams in head, and work in your hands.

 

 

What do people find most surprising about you?

I am just me, no bling bling or ego….

 

 

What is your next BIG goal?

Production… I want to film music videos and maybe get behind the photographer view and snap a few.

 

 

I knew I was a Hair Nerd when….

When I would drive home and take mental pics of people around  me of profiles and face shapes and just start framing the painting with hair.