Miami artist and founder of SODADA hair salon Solange Sarria is committed to introducing inclusivity to the beauty industry. Her sculptural approach to hairdressing highlights natural beauty found in a diverse range of hair types.
What is the problem with the hair industry and how are you trying to change it?
Beauty industry can be confusing for many of us in the way it encourages women to first analyze our eye shapes, face shapes, hair types and then tells us to manipulate everything we have naturally into the material view of what the industry considers acceptable. Hair is fluid, just like we all are. Instead of molding people into one acceptable standard and giving everyone the same solution to get to that standard, the beauty industry should promote individuality and encourage people to respecting their hair.
Trends within the beauty industry influence people’s attitude and the practice within the industry. Miami girls have been taught to do relaxers on their afro hair texture or keratin treatment on the curly hair because the industry told them it was too complicated to cut or style in this humidity or the climate. This solution is expensive and has proven to be damaging, not only to the hair but also to women’s perception of themselves, as ruined hair creates a symbolically negative relationship with ourselves. At the same time, the demand for masters trained to work with natural curly hair disappeared, so it’s difficult to find one today. In the 80s everybody had curly hair, so there were plenty of masters who knew how to work with the curly hair.
How is SODADA salon different?
SODADA is a hair salon that it is healing for the people who enter it. I focus on natural hair textures. I’ve heard so many people say: “It’s taking me so many years to find a good hair stylist “. As a teenager I started cutting my own hair because I didn’t know how to communicate my ideas to my hair dresser. My job consists of empowering people through giving them knowledge about their identity. I educate my clients about their hair textures, tell them about where their hair texture comes from, how it responds to different climates, what are the right practices, applications, products. I want my clients to take the knowledge I give them anywhere. They don’t have to come to me forever. If they move to another place, they can communicate to someone else their wants, needs in the right vocabulary.
For me it’s not about hair, but about how people want to feel about themselves. I’m interested in knowing what relationship they want to have with themselves, what energy they need to tap into in that moment. It’s a lot about their identity. I want people to be completely aware of their limitations and also about what makes them beautiful as well.
Is there a connection between your art and hair practices? Do they influence each other and how?
I draw from my art background and cut hair in the sculptural way. As I cut the hair I listen to it, I watch how it moves, how it responds to the movement till eventually the rhythm and the unique pattern will present itself. From there I know what precision techniques in the geometry of elevation paired with the cutting process to reveal the shape they are looking for, flattering for them and express the archetypal attributes they are trying to tap into.
I’ve been working a lot with synthetic hair in the past two years. I haven’t developed a formula to work with the real hair yet. I want to make sure I respect the hair and don’t create some “unhealthy voodoo” in the process.
Synthetic hair is my commentary on the artificiality of the hair style. I use found objects that speak to me in combination with the synthetic hair. Most of the time, my work is process oriented. When an exhibition sets a specific theme I respond to it. My work is currently a part of “Yes, I’m a Witch” exhibition by FAT Village Projects. It talks about women’s voices that have been silenced throughout time. In my response to the title I wanted to explore what it means to have the power of transformation. I need a lot of love, compassion, and true caring for the person in order to transform them. Those are my magic powers.
How was it growing up and to be queer in Miami?
It was fun and wholesome at the same time. I came out as bisexual when I was 16. I was exploring my sexuality and discussed a lot of things with friends. I always felt open and empowered by my community whenever I wanted to explore my sexuality in a nontraditional way. I’m still learning to communicate my needs and set up expectations before even getting into a relationship with a man or a woman. This Girls Lunchbox is one of the communities that highlights the importance of talking about one’s sexual identity and maybe learn from the members who are successful in navigating their queer identities and relationships.
What are you focusing on right now?
I’m interested in finding a way to use language in our communication to be inclusive without alienating people. Many people don’t realize that often using the word “inclusivity” could alienate someone. We need to move away from the human compulsivity to measure and quantify ways of being and existing. I think we need to talk more about compassion and empathy. Everyone is hurting. So why not use more loving and embracing words instead of words like “inclusivity” that measure everything. I want to lead by example in being inclusive rather than stating and declaring of being inclusive.