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Q&A: Hairstylist Pearson Knight on His New Haircare Line and One-Chair Salon


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Pearson Knight at his one-chair salon at russell+hazel

TJ Turner

Nationally renowned hairstylist Pearson Knight, a backstage fixture at New York Fashion Week and an honoree of Elle magazine's Genius Awards for hair, recently returned to his hometown of Minneapolis to launch his one-chair, appointment-only salon within the new russell+hazel flagship in North Loop. He also used the occasion to launch his own line of environmentally friendly, hair-performance haircare products, PK. I recently spoke to the stylist and haircare entrepreneur on the new salon and what goes into launching a hair product line, Pearson Knight Hair.

What's the story with your new salon inside russell+hazel?

"It's a one-chair salon, everything is really seamless. We were part of the design, so that was really fun for me."

The launch of your Pearson Knight Hair product line coincided with the opening of russell+hazel's new flagship store. How did that come together?

"I'd been working on the product line for four or five years, and this just kind of happened at the same time. [russell+hazel] wanted to branch out and do more fashion and beauty, so I moved back to Minneapolis to launch the salon. I'll still try to get out to other cities where I have clients, and continue to do editorial stuff and PR stuff for the PK product brand. I'll see how it goes—I may be here all the time."

What can you tell us about the PK hair product line?

"The Sculpture Foam ($36) is similar to Aveda's Phomollient styling foam, except you can also use it to scrunch curly hair. It really has a nice hold. It's like a mousse except better for the environment since it's not in a pressured can. It comes out like whipped cream. Styling foam, you can sculpt or blow hair out or scrunch it into curly hair. And for a straight-hair blowouts, there's Straight Shine ($36). Beach Grit ($28) is a volume and texture spray, so you can mist it through your hair and scrunch and go and have that beachy feel, or use it at the roots and couple it with your blowout lotion for a nice blowout. The Texture Mud ($28) is a dry texture hold pomade for men, or women with short hair."

The Pearson Knight Hair line, courtesy russell+hazel

Can you tell me about the process that went into creating your product line?

"I worked closely with a chemist to create the line, and I was a big part of the whole process. It was a lot of fun. Each product has a slightly different aroma, but you can tell they're from a set, they all have a key note that flows through all of them. Other product lines I've used and worked with, like Aveda, they sell smells, and that stuff smells amazing, but I wanted my product line to be a little more subtle. I wanted it to be fresh, clean, with a hint of vacation. Cherry blossom is probably the key note that carries throughout. There's some B5 in every product, which helps with shine."

Creating a product line is that is eco-friendly is becoming more and more important in the world of haircare. How do you balance creating a line that is high performance yet environmentally friendly?

"With each product, it's important for me to go as clean and good for the environment as it is for your scalp and body. But also the form should function really well, because there's that stigma, so we went, okay, perfectly organic and healthy and glue it with high-function, and I'm happy where it turned out. High performance but there's no harsh chemicals. Of course, there's still some chemicals because we want it to work, and we wouldn't put it on the market if there were any cancer-causing agents, so it qualifies for Prop 65 ("The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986"), none of those items are in our products. And I don't use palm oil, because it's killing the rain forests. It's the cheapest oil that goes in everything. Maybe L'Oreal is getting from a good source, but you don't know, you can't track it—they've made it to where you can't tell where it's coming from. I spent three months in 2009 in Bali and Indonesia to launch a salon and got to know the locals, so I really like Indonesia, and they don't grow anything after. They level the land, and kill all the animals. So it's not the most humane process. So one way to do that was to use a more expensive oil instead. That's important to me, so I'm going to stay true to that."

Do you have any plans to expand the product line beyond those four initial products?

"There are just four styling products for now now, though we also have a deep conditioning hair mask that's developed—we just haven't put it in the bottle yet. It's almost like a body butter for hair. And then we're going to work on a basic shampoo and conditioner. They won't do any tricks—they just will do what they're supposed to. So those are the next three."

Shop the Pearson Knight Hair collection in-person at russell+hazel in the North Loop and online at pearsonknight.com.

product images courtesy pearsonknight.com

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