Former model-turned-entrepreneur Stephanie Nolan is changing the game in the hair industry. Following a successful run in the fashion world as well as starring in commercials alongside Missy Elliot, the brown bombshell is here to prove there’s more to her than meets the eye. The hair guru has taken over the industry with her company XOXO Virgin Hair by fusing her unique technique for virgin hair and quality.
Her highly sought after wigs and extensions have been seen on celebrities such as Lizzo, Normani, Solange, ChewingGum’s Michaela Coel, Jordyn Woods, influencer Jackie Aina and more. The Source sat down with Nolan to discuss everything from what made her transition into a once dominated industry to the craziest hair catastrophes she’s witnessed behind the scenes as a fashion model.
1. Can you tell us a little about your transition from modeling to owning your own successful hair company?
My transition from modeling to creating my amazing hair brand was that of an easy one, I was once on the consumer end of hair extensions, I already understood my customers’ needs because I once walked in their shoes. I broke up with subpar hair extensions after doing months of research and learning of what was really sold to the masses; wallet draining, disappointing extensions, and wigs. I felt responsible as a model that promoted products to change the narrative of what high-quality hair extensions are.
2. What was your relationship with hair like growing up as a child?
My relationship with hair began extremely early, thanks to my mom’s bi-weekly visits to the hair salon. I looked forward to the visuals, picking up Sophisticated Black Hair and Hype Hair magazines, and the smell of the salon that’s forever ingrained in my nose, oil sheen, spritz and the smell of the marcel stoves. Soon after, at the age of nine, I began learning how to do my own hair, starting with plaits, and cornrows, and graduating to braided styles with Kanekalon and crochet hair by the age of 13!
3. What is the craziest behind-the-scenes hair antics you witnessed while modeling that made you want to create your own hairline?
There are a dime a dozen situations I’ve witnessed behind the scenes while prepping for shoots. A model’s hair was unable to curl and melting on the curling iron as the hairstylist prepped her. What was perceived to be human hair was really a human hair/synthetic blend. Another situation, which really prompted me to begin my journey was a model’s wig emitting smoke from a simple bleach process. When the foil was unfolded smoke rose from it, and they immediately had to wash it out. I felt so bad for her, and her stylist, as they wasted time, labor and resources at the hands of poor quality hair.
4. What motivated you to take such a huge step in an industry once dominated by asian Beauty Salons?
My goal was and continues to be the mission of serving hair extension wearers not only honestly marketed hair but high-quality hair. We shop at so many Asian-owned beauty supply stores where the policy is “No Refunds or Exchanges” because they use this industry-wide regulation to protect themselves from the backlash of selling poor quality wigs and hair extensions. It’s truly more expensive to buy lower quality hair than it is to invest in higher quality. Many people don’t realize how much they’ve spent until they look at their bank account.
5. How does your hot wet set and steam process differ from the average beauty store hair?
My raw hair steam processed for deep waves and curls are a lot different than many steamed hair textures offered on the market. Unfortunately due to miseducation, many deem steam processed hair as “low quality” when in fact it isn’t the steam process that deems it low quality, it’s all about the quality of the hair used. When you use high-quality hair, you get to enjoy high-quality deep waves, kinks, and curls! Some of my hair is steam processed, it’s the only way to achieve a particular look. A steam process is essentially a very hot wet set, but what sets my hair apart from beauty supply hair is how the raw hair is processed. The hair is air-dried instead of using harsh heat, which damages the hair. When the hair is air-dried, you can ensure the longevity of your investment!
6. Who do you think has the most fabulous hair and who would you love to see rocking XOXO Virgin hair?
There are actually too many celebs to name for this question lol, however, I would LOVE to see Rihanna, Mary J. Blige, Angela Bassett, Missy Elliot (who I worked with while modeling), Meg the Stallion, Cardi B, Ciara, and Beyonce wearing XOXO Virgin Hair! This is in no particular order, love them all and their willingness to be creative, or be timeless!
7.What have you learned along this journey that has surprised you the most?
In this journey of providing some of the best hair extensions and wigs this industry has seen, what has taken me by surprise is how underrated hair extension brands are, we’re like the stepchild of the beauty community (laughs), but we’re partly responsible in helping create some of the most iconic looks we see on the red carpet today! I really do enjoy offering high performing hair extensions to celebrity industry professionals! It makes my day when they say they and their clients love my hair quality.
8. What can we expect from XOXO Virgin Hair in the future?
You can definitely expect to see even more happy customers, more collabs, and more content for everyone to enjoy! Stay tuned.
Check out this throwback of Stephanie in the Adidas Orignals house party commercial featuring David Beckham, Katy Perry, DMC, Young Jeezy, Russell Simmons, Mark Gonzales and Kevin Garnett