When Tatiana Karelina spotted a gap in the market for a high quality, professional and personal hair extension salon, she opened up her first branch of Tatiana Extensions in Kensington. Since then, Tatiana Hair Extensions’ has gone from strength to strength and they now boast a very loyal celebrity clientele.
I was lucky enough to interview Tatiana personally for my blog, which is fantastic because I have a real interest in hair extensions and thoroughly enjoyed coming up with the questions. Having used various brands of clip-in hair extensions in the past, I can honestly say I owe a lot to the beauty of clip-ins however I have never really been given any advice and after conducting this interview, I realise how very little I knew about hair extensions to start with! I know that extensions are extremely popular with girls of all ages at the moment, especially those who want to re-create the long, flowing locks of TOWIE stars and Hollywood celebrities.
Tatiana was kind enough to answer my questions, so hopefully her advice will help readers who are considering clip-in or permanent hair extensions and if you’re not – hopefully you’ll enjoy the interview nonetheless!
Your salons have the best reputation in the whole of the UK for hair extensions, what do you think sets you aside from other salons across the country?
I think our main contributions to the advancement of hair extensions in the UK include being the first to break with the dated practice of using damaging glue to attach the extension hair and the first, given my local knowledge, to be able to source extension hair directly from my native Russia. In doing so I am able to guarantee that my clients are getting hair of the highest quality and by eliminating the “hair broker” the most competitive prices. I sincerely believe that no other hair extension salon in the UK can make this claim.
Your store in Kensington has been extremely successful with celebrity clients, who has been your favourite celebrity to work with?
I don’t tend to distinguish between celebrities and the rest of the clients, I love working with clients in general, seeing happy faces and transformed heads of hair. We aim to create a unique experience for everyone and it is always a pleasure to see people coming back.
“The confidence boost from extensions, whether to lengthen or to thicken tresses, is second to none”
You have previously said that you treat every client as an individual and focus on them solely and want they want. What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about having extensions but wasn’t sure whether it would be appropriate for them?
It is quite important to have a proper consultation prior the actual fitting. We tend to have a good look at clients hair and discuss the clients requirements first. Last year we launched our own free I-Pad app Virtual Salon. It has been a great help for those who could not decide on the length, colour or style of the extensions. We simply upload a picture of the clients hair and start ‘trying on’ various styles. You can access this app here!
Do you think having hair extensions fitted completely changes a person – or their confidence, overall look?
Absolutely! Changing someones looks is a very serious procedure, self-image has a huge impact on a person’s happiness and success. Professional human hair extensions are really discreet and blend in naturally with the real hair allowing to create a Hollywood glamorous look. The confidence boost from extensions, whether to lengthen or to thicken tresses, is second to none. The process can take hours, depending on how many extensions the clients go for, but the result is well worth the wait.
What first appealed to you with regards to hair extensions? Were you looking for extensions for yourself and then noticed a gap in the market? Or did you come across them by chance?
I graduated from Moscow University in 2002 with a degree in Linguistics before moving to the United States where I was, by chance, first introduced to hair extensions. Moving to London a few years later I gained experience and expertise by training with a notable London hair extension salon, which at the time was regarded to be one of the best in the industry. It was in 2008 when I realized a gap existed in the market. I then decided to branch out on my own and open the first branch in Kensington West London. It was the best decision!
There are always numerous stories in magazines with the headline ‘extensions wrecked my hair’, however very few people realise that if they are fitted correctly – they have very minimal damage to your hair. What advice would you give to someone that was worried about the effect hair extensions have on your hair?
In recent year hair extensions have become big business. So much so that there has been an explosion of ‘experts’. These are people that know someone in the hair extension business and think it is a quick and easy way to make money. They probably charge a bit less than the professional salons hence attract some customers. If they are lacking knowledge, using cheap processed hair and damaging glues they can easily wreck the hair. Once the damage is done it takes years to recover the hair and get it back to the original condition. I have heard some awful stories from some of the clients. Using excellent quality hair and skill in the weight and positioning are essential elements of professionally applied hair extensions. To make sure you make the right choice I would recommend making a proper research and attend a consultation prior making a final decision.
I understand that you also offer clip-in extensions and Micro Ring Wefts. Are these safer alternatives to glue or bonded extensions?
Tatiana Clip-in Extensions is a luxury line of the finest quality, bespoke clip-in extensions. Each set of clip-in extensions are custom made for each individual so that natural hair colour, texture and style are perfectly matched. They are easy to install and easy to remove using our proprietary hair clips attached to the hair. They can be a great alternative to more permanent systems and allow to create a different style whenever needed as the same clip in piece can be used as a ponytail, bun, etc.
Once you have one set of extensions, what maintenance do customers have to do in order to keep them looking natural and healthy?
The hair extensions themselves will last up to 3-4 months before they need maintenance. With Micro Rings it is possible to re-bond the tip and re-use them if they have been maintained well whilst being worn. Micro Ring extensions do not require any special hair care products other than a special soft bristle brush, which is provided free-of-charge. It is strongly advised that shampoo for NORMAL hair be used and no conditioner be applied on the roots (tips only).
I have naturally curly hair and have to style my hair to suit the extensions rather than the other way around. If someone wanted extensions to suit their natural hair, would this be possible?
We generally recommend to match the texture of hair extensions to the texture of clients hair. That would ensure the most natural result no matter what the weather is like. Quite often when someone’s hair is wavy but they decide to go for straight the humidity in the air can make it very noticeable that they wear extensions – as their real hair goes frizzy but hair extensions stay poker straight.
There have been reports you are due to open salons in the US, are there plans to go ahead with this yet?
As an established UK brand of over 5 years standing, my dream would be to develop an international salon network in major cities around the world. We have started to look for the Operating Partners, someone who will already have a strong track record in business whether from within or outside the hair and beauty industry.
I understand you keep the same hair when you keep coming back to re-fit the extensions. Is this because the hair is such high quality?
Definitely! We specialize in virgin Russian hair which is hair that has not been chemically treated at all. It is 100% natural so there can be no damage to the cuticles. Some clients keep reusing the same hair for 2 years, it is amazing really! Apart from the quality of the hair the attachment technique plays a very important part too. Micro ring system allows us to simply unclip the hair and clip it back as the strands remain intact.
For those who are considering getting hair extensions, what advice would you give them?
I would definitely recommend doing a proper research and speak to a few companies before they make their choice. And never be shy to ask as many questions as you want if you need to clarify some details.
Do you have hair extensions yourself? If so, do you fit them yourself?
I have extensions, I can not live without them! The process of fitting requires a lot of precision hence it is impossible to fit it on yourself. I wish I could do it myself as I always have to make an appointment in my own salon 2 weeks in advance at least.
For someone like me, who has blonde highlights (and so I have a mixture of brown and light blonde) is it quite difficult to find colours to suit the hair, or do you dye the extensions before attaching them?
We developed a great system in the salon when we work as a team. Each technician is responsible for certain part of the process. We have some dyed ponytails which we finely mix with a few different shades of blonde and brown hair to make sure we create the identical match to clients hair. That makes our extensions undetectable!
Thank you ever so much to Tatiana Karelina for kindly taking the time to answer my questions! It’s clear from her interview that she is extremely passionate about her field of work, and similarly – very knowledgeable! If you are considering extensions or have some questions or queries for Tatiana, you can follow her via Twitter – @TatianaHairExts. She is really lovely and always keen to help, so don’t hesistate to contact her!
For further details, a price list and portfolio – visit http://tatianahairextensions.co.uk/
Please note: the images used in this article are not my own and I do not take credit for them. They belong to Tatiana Karelina and are used in this article for reference purposes only.