Kandace Wilson grew up in the Southern California countryside, and her journey with art led her to attend Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. She earned a BFA in photography and minored in fashion design. Later she attended Aveda Institute of Los Angeles to learn the craft of hair styling. In 2015 she opened Swing Door Studio—a hair salon and photography studio that pampers clients of all ages, is pet-friendly and kid-friendly, and offers an indoor/outdoor, cozy environment.
Tell us about Swing Door Studio.
“Swing Door Studio is a creative space where you can let your mind run free. It came to life from wanting to be able to work with my dog, Murphy, at my feet and has become a great work space specializing in art, beauty and relaxation. Here at Swing Door Studio you will be pampered, inspired and leave feeling brand new.”
What do you do to advance in your career?
“Education, education, education. I am always learning and expanding my knowledge of my crafts. I stay current on trends and new skills, and I push my limits to explore new ideas and techniques. I never want to lose the art of being social, as it is a big part of who I am and what I do.”
What challenges are specific to your industry?
“Technology is ever-advancing. Today’s cell phones can take admirable photos that can compete with professional cameras that are just a few years old. As someone who was trained in the art of film, where film speed (ISO), shutter and aperture had to be near perfect and postproduction was arduous, time-consuming and knowledge-intensive, there is an influx of amateurs who can take a nice photograph but lack the knowledge to choreograph a work of art.
In hair, there are many people that can cookbook a certain color, but it requires an artist to differentiate the many subtle tones of a color a client may desire. You’ve heard of ‘50 shades of grey,’ but try 50 shades of blonde!”
How do you make clients comfortable and want to come back to see you?
“My #1 priority is to make sure my clients are feeling welcome and comfortable. This builds trust between us and helps make what we are doing together become flawless. It’s always about communication. So whether hair styling or having a photo shoot, I want my clients to leave Swing Door Studio feeling amazing about their experience. The ongoing joke in the hair world is that we are our clients’ therapist.
This trust extends beyond the stylist’s chair, as it is also in my work as a photographer. My clients need to feel comfortable in front of the camera, confident that I will care for their vulnerabilities. It is my job as a professional stylist and photographer to empower my clients by emphasizing their inherent beauty and portraying it to the world.”
Where is your current inspiration coming from?
“I always look to old things—call them vintage if you will. I find the beauty in the story they have to tell. I want to breathe a second life into what many people would discard—to create something new from the old in my fashion as well as my art. I enjoy process and the unlimited possibilities of different outcomes. As of late my focus is on the horse. My art often revolves around them and their world. I grew up with horses and am deeply connected to them. I want to give back to the horse community, which has been so influential in my life. I use thoroughbreds and quarter horses as my canvas. I may capture the moment as a horse is running in a race or get up close and personal to paint on these majestic creatures.”
Tell us about the women in your life whom you admire.
“My family has a long line of strong, hardworking, independent women, all of whom are trailblazers and great role models— not only in business but also in life. They excelled as race car drivers, jockeys, race horse trainers and airplane pilots.
I admire their work ethics, actions and words. They are simply amazing women. Their perseverance in facing the struggle each day inspires me because they love what they do and they are good at it. My mama always says, ‘Kandace, if you want something in life and you want it done right, go out and do it for yourself. Do not rely on others. It’s your life, go make the most of it.’”