...His story is one of many adoptive citizens. A child born in Vietnam arrives in San Francisco and must learn a new language, new customs and find his way in a new world.
“I came here (to the United States) with my single mother and my brother and I had to motivate myself to fit in, to get myself to school and to try and be accepted. I was always doing research to see what you needed to know and also so I could help my family,” says Kien Hoang, Artistic Educator for Oribe Haircare.
But instead of just conforming, he created. Instead of disappearing, he dared. And instead of erasing his uniqueness he embraced it. Today, a spirit of inclusiveness informs his work, his salon and his life.
“When I was young, I was surrounded by women—my mother and my aunts—and I fell in love with the early 1970’s fashion and music. I would see my aunts all done up with big disco hair,” says Hoang. “I created a look for myself knowing that I wasn’t going to be accepted completely because I didn’t know the language. I used to go to school in bow ties.”
Through fashion he found hair and started cosmetology training while still in high school. “At 16, I was already focused on my career. I went to school, to cosmetology class and worked at the same time. I fell in love with creating textures, deciding what style was appropriate with what look, and also the architecture of hair. I worked with a lot of ethnic hair which was incredible.”