Celebrity Hairstylist Kim Kimble on the Power of Routine and 'Good Energy'
Like wedding professionals and vendors, celebrity stylist Maeve Reilly, makeup artist Alexx Mayo and hairstylist to the stars Kim Kimble all know what it takes to pull off a trendsetting and provocative look. Though they work behind the scenes, they're rightfully featured front and center on the cover of The Knot Fall 2023 Issue.
Some blame it on retrograde, others fault technology.
My first impression of Kim Kimble was that this larger-than-life maker—the lead hairstylist on the set of HBO's Euphoria, who counts Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland as clients—couldn't hear me. We laughed our way through the choppy Zoom intro and switched to FaceTime. I breathed a sigh of relief.
A third-generation hairstylist, Kimble grew up in the business. But she didn't fall in love with it until she understood the creative aspects of the trade. "I wanted to be a fashion designer first," Kimble admits. "Back in the day, I looked up to Patrick Kelly and Willi Smith—Black designers. I really loved sewing." At 16, she got a taste of what would become her eventual career, working as "the shampoo girl" in her mother's salon. "The first time I saw a client light up and smile after she got her hair done, I fell in love," says Kimble, who has described hairstyling as her destiny. "I feel I was born for this."
Her foray into showbiz was facilitated by actor and trailblazing filmmaker Robert Townsend, who first connected with Kimble for a play he directed. Impressed with her prowess, he later hired her as the hair consultant for 1997's B.A.P.S, starring Halle Berry. A celebrity hairstylist was born. "It has taken me far beyond the chair," Kimble muses of her career. "To see how people's lives change when you finish their hair? It's just the most incredible thing to watch. That's why I fell out of wanting to do fashion and fell in love with hair."
Every morning, Kimble's first waking hours begin with God and self-care. "You have to start your day off right," she says. "I listen to speakers and preachers who inspire me. I love to do that in the morning. I'm working on exercise because it's important to do it every day." Kimble prioritizes well-being. "It's important to eat healthily, get rest and treat yourself to a massage. I do that when I'm working hard," she says.
For some, hair is one-dimensional and simply needs occasional maintenance. Others view their tresses as an extension of their personalities or a point of expression. Kimble is among the latter group, and she sees a world of opportunity. "When it comes to hair, I can work at a salon and specialize in one thing: I could be a colorist. I could be a haircutter or an educator," she elaborates. "I could stand in front of thousands of people teaching hair care. I can work on a movie set, a photo shoot, commercials. I've been working on tutorials. I can also have hair products or be a manufacturer. There are so many doors as a hairstylist."
The industry has evolved, she notes, especially with the increased consumption of social media and new educational mediums, like video content. "How do I continue to grow and elevate myself?" Kimble wonders. "You have to grow. That's part of the business."
Lately, she's figuring out social media like the rest of her cohorts as part of her evolving business plan. "I look at my son, his friends and people his age. It's like second nature for them," she observes. "They get in on the conversation."
We talk about growth mindset, namely, what that means to Kimble as she's seemingly reached the pinnacle of her career. She may have once thought that point was in 2003, while working with Beyoncé to conceive the hairstyling for her first solo album, Dangerously in Love. Like the songs featured in the hit LP, the cover image of the breakout singer in a bedazzled, encrusted mesh top, hair perfectly and voluminously blown to one side, remains a hallmark of that era. "I wasn't able to go to New York to do the album cover, so we created the look beforehand," says Kimble. She was there to style Beyoncé's sleek ballerina bun for her 2008 wedding to Jay-Z, as well as her Lemonade album cover (and companion film) and a headline-making Coachella act in 2018. The hair artist was also there for the singer Rowland when she married Tim Witherspoon in Costa Rica. Most recently, Kimble oversaw the hair department for season two of the award-winning series Euphoria, including Zendaya's tresses. Between character assessments, screen tests and on-set collaboration, Kimble's hand is everywhere.
These are reasons why big names trust Kim Kimble: She's a professional who puts the work in. "I put that energy out there and get good energy back. You put the hard work in and you reap the benefits," she says in a steady tone. She gives the same advice when it comes to hiring pros for your wedding day. "This is your day. You want to put the trust in someone else who knows what they're doing," Kimble says. "I've seen people who didn't have an event planner at their wedding, and [what did you expect to happen]? Some people like to be in control of everything. They want to do it. Others love the idea of: 'I'm going to relax on my wedding day and let the cards fall where they may.'"
That's where Kimble says trust is essential. "I am one of those people who likes to be in control, but I want to go into my wedding day relaxed, without worrying about how this is going to flow. Hiring a person who knows what they're doing and has done this before, you feel confident in them. They've got your back. I just think that's how your wedding day should be."
Explore more of Kim's work by picking up the Fall 2023 issue of The Knot Magazine. Subscribe here.