By Lisa Chapman - 10/26/07 07:05 PM EDT
A Pittsburgh native, Yates moved to Washington three years ago and recently took over My Hair Suite, a small, upscale salon on 8th Street just a short walk from Capitol Hill. Styling the Bush family’s hair was a boon to building his client base. It still helps him, even though the Bush family changed stylists in 2005 following a staff change.
“Just by telling people I cut the first family’s hair alone helped build clientele quickly,” said Yates, who admits he no longer has a lock on the White House locks. “Everyone says I have a cult following.”
Yates may be a Democrat, but he still appreciates how normal President Bush and his family appeared when he worked on their hair.
Although Yates has only “styled out” a few politicians, he has dreams of working with more.
“Condoleezza [Rice], I have it all ready for her. I would love to style her,” said Yates. “And even though it’s her husband that’s in politics, I would love to get my hands on Michelle Obama, I could really make her extra-fabulous.”
The stylist refuses to divulge any changes he would make to women leaders because he fears that someone will steal his ideas. But he can’t think of any makeovers for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). He is more than forthcoming when it comes to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who always keeps his tresses in a helmet shape that doesn’t move.
“Oh goodness, he needs more than a haircut. I don’t know if I could help him,” Yates said. “He has too much bang action. He almost looks like a cartoon character.”
Despite his affinity for Michelle Obama, Yates is still unsure how to cast his vote in the 2008 presidential election.
“Being black, I kind of feel the need to vote for Barack, but I just love Hillary,” he said. “I think she’s brilliant, she’s charismatic, and I really would like to see what she would do with our country.”
When asked about expensive haircuts like those of former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and President Bill Clinton, Yates doesn’t have a problem with the idea, as long as the client pays for it from his or her personal budget rather than with tax dollars.
But styling on Capitol Hill and doing hair for Michael Kors and Versace fashion shows hasn’t disconnected Yates from his everyday work at the salon. He says his favorite part of his job is developing relationships with his clients and being there for them.
Like many stylists, Yates says great hair comes from healthy hair. He suggests finding ways to optimize the curly or wavy look for those who don’t straighten as the best way to avoid the frizz that comes with D.C.’s summer humidity. He also says it’s better to embrace the hair’s natural texture rather than relaxing it with chemicals as a way to beat the effects of the heat.
“People need to focus on the health of their hair so they can have that great style they desire. That’s the biggest goal as a stylist and I try to accomplish that with my clients,” he says.
An average haircut by Yates runs from $60 to $85. My Hair Suite is located at 404 8th St. SE.