Today we’d like to introduce you to Jill O’Neil.
Jill, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have always loved hair and clothes and makeup. I moved around a lot growing up and I always used fashion to express myself, I was so used to being the “new kid” and having people stare at me that I figured I might as well give them something fun to look at. I cut all my friends hair in my backyard with my first feather razor giving them crazy punk rock cuts all through high school. I started bleaching my hair at 12 years old to look like my idols Courtney Love, Donna Martin from 90210, drew Barrymore and Madonna. I still use clothing and makeup to express my emotions on a daily basis, I change my hair whenever I need to present something new to the world, to shake things up, when I feel out of control in my life or you know when the wind blows. I come from a super impoverished family and I started working full time at the age of 15. I got my GED instead of finishing high school and just started bringing in an income to survive. When I was 19 I moved across the country to Los Angeles to change my scenery and pursue some independence from my broken home life. I always wanted to pursue something in beauty and fashion. but being motivated by stability and logic (I always have to state that my outsides don’t match my insides, I always look fun and glittery or out there but I’m much more Type A, serious and organized than I appear) I chose to do hair because it didn’t feel as risky, there are so many career opportunities within the industry while it still being an art form. I managed a few salons and eventually found a cosmetology school that I put myself through by working there as the Office manager and apprenticing the owner who was a cosmetologist. From there I worked at a few salons building g my clientele and skill. I have trained with many top stylists in different methods and techniques and I have taken that knowledge merged it with my own. I am a dry cutting specialist who loves sculpting your hair how it lays when its dry creating a wearable look that doesn’t require styling etc. if that’s not your thing. I live for short textured cuts to long romantic hair. I also love color, from bleaching and fun bright colors to pastels and hand painting icy and golden blondes, I love it all. I now operate out of my own private studio in eagle rock. Hidden off the street in an airy courtyard, I inherited the space from a peer and took the magic that was already there and turned it into my very own. First and foremost my space is safe and inclusive for ALL people and in particular a haven for any group of marginalized humans. For the decor I was influenced by new wave, Patrick nagel, saved by the bell and the Memphis design group. I aimed for something modern and clean with elements of 80’s influence and pops of color, somewhere that doesn’t feel stuffy or pretentious but more Like stopping by a friends to hang out and leave feeling fresh and bold!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I would definitely say it’s been a bumpy yet exhilarating ride and one I’m extremely proud of having g taken. From having to come up with all the funds on my own, building a clientele from scratch, dealing with a lease that fell through when I went to open my first place a few years back as well as shouldering the stress of opening a business with limited resources and in a very short amount of time mostly on my own.
My family doesn’t have any money and I have never ever had a safety net. There was and is no one to call if things don’t work out, no other option than making it work. I always knew I would get a trade as opposed to traditional college because I needed to be able to support myself quickly and I didn’t have the money or time to attend a traditional school. But I did have amazing friends, surrogate family and mentors who supported me along the way with love and kindness. My only option was to succeed and that largely fell on me but I could not have done it without the people who stood behind me and believed in me.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about XO Jill – what should we know?
I operate a private hair studio where I specialize in dry cutting, bleaching, balayage and highlights, and fun fashion fantasy colors as well as striking reds and rich browns. I am adept all sorts of cutting from clipper to razor to scissor cuts, long, structured and severe to soft and romantic. I am known for being extremely fast as well as a good communicator that always listens to exactly what my clients wants and is always open to talking them through what we are doing and accepting feedback. Being fast is convenient for all my clients who are young parents, professionals popping in on a lunch break or just clients for the client who doesn’t have an extremely flexible schedule.
I am most proud of being a safe and inclusive space for all humans. I am truly the most passionate about making people feel safe to not only be who they are but embrace it and feel good about themselves and I feel strongly about only attracting a clientele who also holds those beliefs. I have a zero tolerance policy towards hate of any kind in my space, as an active ally for the LGTBQ community as well as being strongly passionate about and a student of intersectional feminism I just want to make sure my studio has an open door policy for likeminded people and/or people looking for respite.
I am also proud to say my salon is 100% animal cruelty free and we use sustainable and environmentally friendly product options when available.
I think the 2 chair set up of my small and private hair studio is what sets it apart from the traditional model. I see more and more small private studios opening because I think people like the home grown, organic and intimate vibe. I use online booking or direct contact for all of my clients so no third parties or uninterested reception. I work in the space alone with my client or sometimes more than one client at time but because of the clientele I have cultivated it always is a pleasant social experience for everyone. The space is warm and modern and small but still feels open and clean. It truly has magic vibes!
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I have had a lot of people, who have played a big part…I am lucky to be blessed with incredible friends. Who always supported me (especially important because I had no support from my family whatsoever)
My mentor for hair and the industry was an LA hair veteran who in his prime was a top stylist at a very fancy West Hollywood salon but had a similar background as me and grew up on the east side so our style is very similar. He taught me a lot about free form cutting, using hair as a canvas for art, color theory and how to perform self-care in the hectic lifestyle that is a hair stylist.
My clients have played a HUGE part in my success. I almost solely work off of referrals and because my clients and I have such open and trusting relationships I just keep growing with likeminded individuals that I get on great with. A lot of my clientele was built around a group of women who graduated Emerson College (I met Erin through this particular group) and moved out here, one of them popped into a salon I worked in Echo Park and asked me to cut all of her waist length hair off. It started a second wave of the term “The Rachel” (that being the clients name as well) and soon I was doing variations of that fun asymmetrical cut on her friends etc. From there it branched to colleagues and partners and significant others and family members and then just grows off into weird subcategories where the people font even know each other anymore but can really all be traced back to one person from there. That haircut was really important to me because when I went to school I felt like I lost some of my edge, I learned the mathematical way to cut hair and I was glad to know the basics bit I felt stuck in a pattern. The haircut Rachel wanted needed to be sculpted purely from a visual standpoint t and it really helped me get back into my groove and merge the knowledge I had obtained and the instincts I already had to creating something that was elevated in skill but still me.
Opening my brick and mortar business was thanks to my clients that afforded me the option and the friends who helped me make many decisions, the friend who built my custom salon chairs and lighting, to the girl I met in a women group on Facebook who painted my mural and of course a big thanks to the salon that was there previously, Sunday Morning Hair for giving me a space to work when I moved to Nela and for eventually giving me my very own space to call home to my own business.
- $50 for drycuts
- Balayage and highlighting starts at $170
- Bleaching and fantasy colors starts at $200
- Address: 2120 Colorado Blvd Suite 5
Los Angeles CA 90041
- Website: www.xo-jill.com
- Phone: 2133995645
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: Jillxoneil