Any student with textured, curly or ethnic hair who needs a fresh style needs to look no further than the salon of Brittany Walker.
Walker is Vermillion’s go-to source for ethnic hairstyles. She works through Campus Cuts on Cherry Street, which caters mostly to college students, but her services are open to anyone and everyone.
“I went to the university so I can offer more of that connection,” Walker said.
USD contacted Walker because of her ability to style ethnic hair. The university is paying for her vanity booth rental at Campus Cuts to assure she is available to students.
Vermillion appealed to Walker not only because her family is here, but because of the diverse student population.
“It was the students, especially the athletes, because they don’t have anyone to do their hair,” Walker said. “Coming here, I knew I could eventually set up shop and be able to help them out. Their closest bet is Omaha, which is two hours away, and some of them don’t have cars.”
Walker, who received her hairdressing education at Stewart’s School in Sioux Falls, also credits her cosmetic expertise to her husband.
“He was my guinea pig,” Walker said. “I learned from him how to do (hair), so I thank him for that.”
Some of the styles Walker specializes in are dreadlocks, hair tattoos (close-shaved designs), braids, colors and cuts, to name a few. Dreadlocks are her strong suit.
“When I was in school, everyone was like, ‘Oh, she knows how to do dreads and designs,’ so that was my biggest thing,” Walker said.
The process of dreadlocking hair can be extensive as well as expensive, and the style requires specific care. Some people prefer to wash their hair, while others don’t.
“I go through and section out their hair, twist it up, use clips and then dry them,” Walker said. “Once it’s all dry, I take the clips out and it stays in. Some people want braids put in afterwards if their dreads are long enough, and some like to just let it hang down.”
Walker said that different people have different hair textures, which can make or break a hairstyle. She advises her clients before every appointment to consider what will work best with their hair.
“There’s a huge difference between doing dreads on a white person’s hair compared to a black person’s hair,” Walker said. “The texture is a lot different. Say you’re doing dreads for a white person’s hair. You have to backcomb their hair and get it all ratted up so it has that texture to it so it grips, whereas if you’re doing it on a black person, it automatically grips to itself.”
Despite the differences between dreadlocking ethnic hair versus white hair, she is willing to work with a client to give them what they want. And Walker will do just about anything a client wants done to their hair.
“If I feel like something wouldn’t look necessarily right on them, I would talk to them and say what would look different,” Walker said. “It’s not even about the different textures. If someone has thin hair or thicker hair, the same exact cut is going to look completely different on them.”
The cost for some of these hairstyles can vary. Simple cuts range from $10 to $15, while dreadlocks can cost upwards of $70.
Client Janet Palensky can attest to that happiness. She has been going to Walker for “a while” and she has always left the salon happy.
“I just loved that place,” Palensky said. “She colored and cut my hair, and it was just beautiful. I’ve had compliments, and people say I look younger. She’s very peppy and fun to get your hair cut with. She’s very precise, proper and professional, and she takes the time to get someone what they want.”
The future for Walker includes a dream for a solo salon. She plans to offer services for just about every body part in order to make her clients feel more relaxed and comfortable in their skin.
“I’m working towards opening up my own shop so I can be available more,” Walker said. “It will be in Vermillion. I’d make my own hours. I do the waxing, cuts, colors, dreads, braids, but I also know how to do facials and what they call ‘back facials.’ I’ll have spray tanning to offer… microdermabrasion was a big thing in school that I got certified on too. I also want to offer pedicures at my salon because that’s relaxing for people,” she said.
Walker said she hopes to make sure her clients walk out of the salon feeling good.
“I like making people feel good about themselves and seeing the surprise from people when they are super excited after it’s done,” Walker said. “The biggest thing is making people feel good about themselves and feel happy about how they look.”