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Daily Inspiration: Meet Gabriela Canales

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gabriela Canales.

Hi Gabriela, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I got my first experience in the hair world as a receptionist. I loved how social and fun the environment was. At the time, I didn’t think I was interested because my sister was already in the beauty industry doing hair and makeup. Having always had an eye for beauty and fashion, it felt like the right path to take. When I finished school, I started helping my sister on set jobs and working as a salon general assistant in echo park. I dropped my resume off at The Chris McMillan Salon and was offered a job working with Matthew Preece. One year in, I got the opportunity to work as an assistant to color specialist Anja Burton. That’s when I started focusing on just color and dropped the cutting (although I always advise new assistants to never stop perfecting both color and cut). She really took me under her wing and taught me everything about how to create the effortless, sun kissed California hair color that looks good on just about everyone and never goes out of style. I eventually took what I learned and made it my own. Never compromising my work ethic and style for hair trends that eventually play themselves out. 2021 will be 13 years of working at Chris McMillan Salon. I’m so grateful for every year I’ve spent there. Everyday is another opportunity to learn something new. I work around so many influential, talented creatives and after being there so long, I’ve become a mentor to so many. That means a lot to me.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
A career in the hair industry comes with so many struggles and long hours. It honestly hasn’t been easy. I think it took me a lot longer to build my clientele because I’m actually from Long Beach and all my friends were hairdressers and my siblings, so it wasn’t as easy to network when I wasn’t out and about in the area I was trying to build in. Los Angeles can sometimes be more about who you know than what you know. That made it harder for me to break into the industry.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I’m a hairdresser that specializes in Hair color. I would say I’m most known for low maintenance, natural-looking, beautifully sun-kissed hair. I’m always really proud of the way my client’s hair grows out and how long they are able to go between appointments. I always joke that it’s not that great for business since I don’t see them that often, but nevertheless I’m happy I can do that for them. Lol! One thing that sets me apart from others is my willingness and ability to be completely honest. I never compromise the integrity of my work just to say yes to money. There’s no hair color that can fix the look of breakage; so it’s really important to me that we maintain the health of the hair first and foremost.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
My sister, Julie Canales, helped me get my start and gave me the confidence to be my own person in such a big industry. Anja burton taught me all about placement and tones. She taught me how important it is to remember that less is more with this style of hair color. She also taught me that “pretty hair never goes out of style” and that really stuck with me. Working with Chris McMillan for so long has shown me how much good work ethic really pays off. I think I partially get my “no fear of being honest” from him. I sat at his station for days and hours on end watching him blow dry and I definitely credit him for my skills in that area. He has been so supportive of who I am as a person and incredibly inspirational to me as a hairdresser. Every coworker I’ve ever had at Chris McMilllan has helped me and taught me so much. Whether is was good or bad, lol. All the colorists there are so supportive of one another. We all lend a hand or formula when it’s needed, so I’m thankful to all of them. Assistants don’t get enough credit or respect. Without my assistant, I would not be able to take on as much as I do and certainly wouldn’t have been able to build my business without them. It’s so important to treat them with kindness and gratitude. I have clients that have turned into family. Without their trust and support, I wouldn’t be where I am in my career. Any client who has loved my work enough to refer me to one of their friends or family has contributed to my success. To me, that is the ultimate compliment.

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Phone: (323)207-5787
  • Instagram: @zabriela

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