MY NAME IS RIVER, I WAS BORN IN TUCSON ORIGINALLY BUT I MOVED AROUND A LOT.
E. TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF.
R. I was born in Tucson originally but I moved around a lot when I was young, probably because my parents separated soon after they had my little brother. When I was eight years old, my parents decided to reconcile so my mother moved all of us to Seoul, South Korea. At the time, I didn't know Korean so there was a lot of patience and adjusting on my part. Eventually, my mom, my siblings, and I came back to the US and settled in Seattle. I call Seattle my home because that's where I spent most of my time as a kid. I remember my biology teacher taking us to go on mushroom hunting during class, very Pacific Northwest.
Growing up with a single mother who immigrated here when she was just 15, we weren't allowed to do a lot of things outside the house so we were always on a tight watch. So naturally, my siblings and I spent a lot of time in the house and TV was everything for us. I guess one of the side effects of growing up indoors is that you play house anywhere you went. My brother and I used to dress up in our mom's clothes and put her tights on our heads and braid it so it looked like this beautiful braided ponytail. We would dance in the house and act very regal because that's what we thought adults normally did. If we weren't home, we were at my mother's clothing store and next to the clothing store was a ginormous Walmart, where we would go to play house. We would take all the kitchenware and put it in one aisle and act like we were walking into our kitchen, cooking up a meal.
E. WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO Los Angeles?
R. I grew up everywhere but Seattle is definitely my home. Now, I'm here in Los Angeles. My first time in LA was when I was six or seven years old, my mom used to go to LA a lot from AZ to go to these big swap meets to buy clothes for her store. I remember looking at all the palm trees and being enamored because Arizona was definitely not that. I knew I would end up in LA at some point in my life, I just didn't know when. I moved here in 2018 from NYC because I really wanted to take a chance doing hair in the film or magazine industry. Also, I was ready to say good-bye to NYC after five years of going through the wringer.
E. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE CITY?
R. LA is interesting geographically because you can go to the beach, the mountain, or the desert. You have it all out here and you can go to these places if you just have a car. You don't have to plan out your whole day like you do in NYC, you can leave and get back after couple hours and you can still go to the grocery store after. I lived in big cities before and LA doesn't have that intensity nor that feeling of urgency, it feels very calm and chaotic situations don't seem as overwhelming. Maybe it's the weather but most definitely, LA is a very unique, complex city that doesn't fit into a mold.
E. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN CUTTING HAIR FOR AND WHAT STYLE DO YOU PREFER?
R. I’ve been cutting for 3-4 years in NYC and here in LA. In the barbershop, I have more clients getting fades and shorter haircuts but I really enjoy working with some length because it gives me more options when it comes to styling. Think of Leslie Cheung in the 90's or the Beatles in the 70's. I don't have a particular style that I can say I love because hair is always changing but a lot of times it's just modifying the past. Right now, I really dig the 50's flop, curtain bangs, shags, 20's slicked central parting, and wavy mid-lengths. But, at the end of the day, you want to make sure it fits the client's lifestyle and how it can accentuate their facial features instead of taking over their head.
E. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO CONSUME CANNABIS?
R. I like to do it all really but I do like the slow burn on a joint, which is great for social settings and easy to clean up. Since I moved to LA, I realized I really enjoy going to the express car wash tunnel; I can see all the lights and soap water in the window as my car is moving, it feels oddly pleasing to watch your car being cleaned.
E. WHAT OTHER PROJECTS OR SKILLS HAVE YOU BEEN HONING IN ON DURING THE PANDEMIC?
R. When your mind is bored, you start seeing things a little differently. Your mind is constantly looking for work. If I see a leaf fall, I ask myself how can I incorporate that into my work. A straw is not just a straw, I've been using it for one of my headpieces for a photoshoot. Nature documentaries are, also, my go-to for inspiration.
I'm working on everything right now from wigs, head pieces, and trying on different styles on mannequin heads inspired by what I see in life from campy to minimal. Color, shapes, texture, and style are all a part of the idea. The best thing I've learned while creating was to keep on making mistakes and see where it can take me. Hair is not about perfection; it's about the process and the message you want to convey with the look.