How Music Festival Culture Launched a Local Hairstylist’s Career

The eccentric culture of festivals and raves is known for breaking all the rules and to externally express one’s individuality through a mixture of fashion and music. Twenty-one-year-old hairstylist, Hailee Fortuin, uses this culture as an inspiration behind her brightly-colored glitter and braid-based hairstyles. Fortuin has impressively made a name for herself in the hair and rave community with only a year of doing rave hair under her belt. Some of her accomplishments have been a featured Festival Hair Nominee for Behind the Chair and Best of the Fest Finalist for Modern Salon. Recently Fortuin chatted with 303 Magazine about her ever-growing business, Hailee Kay Hair, and her excitement for upcoming festivals and projects.

Photo by Conner Coughenour.

303 Magazine: Tell us the history of Hailee Kay Hair. How did you first get started?

Hailee Fortuin: My high school offered a free vocational program where you could spend half your day learning a trade to acquire a license or certificate at graduation. My dream was always to own a bakery, so I checked out the culinary program but something about it felt off for me. I asked to be sent for cosmetology which wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to do in life, but I knew I wanted to be learning something hands-on instead of just sitting in a classroom. I ended up falling in love with the program and later found my passion in braiding and styling.

303: What are your favorite trends right now?

HF: I’m living for butterfly clips! This is such a ’90s trend but it’s back and better than ever.

303: What can you tell us about rave culture?

HF: Rave culture is honestly so interesting to me. It’s like you step into another reality. When I was new in the scene and trying to find my place someone asked me, “Well, how silly can you get?” And that really stuck with me. What’s fun about rave culture is that there are no rules.

Photo by Joy Tatum.

303: How long have you been doing hair?

HF: I graduated cosmetology school in the summer of 2016, but I’ve really only been doing rave hair for about a year. The field is so diverse, so it’s taken me a while to find my place.

303: What is the next big rave or festival you are looking forward to the most?

HF: Bonnaroo holds a special place in my heart. This festival takes place in June in Manchester, Tennessee. There are usually around 80,000 attendees of all ages and the lineup is super diverse compared to some other, more electronic-based festivals. The people are my people and of all the festivals I’ve attended, I would call Roo my home.

Photo by  Joy Tatum.

303: Do you have any upcoming projects you are working on? What can you tell us about them?

HF: I have one major project that I can’t say a whole lot about just yet but I can tell you that I have more out-of-state festivals planned than ever before. Something that I’m really looking forward to within this project is the opportunity to raise more money for charities like HairToStay, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping cancer patients afford scalp cooling, a treatment that can dramatically reduce chemotherapy-induced hair loss. It’s always been important for me to give back so I can’t wait to show you what’s in store.

303: Where do you see Hailee Kay Hair in five years?

HF: I’m constantly changing course, monthly, weekly, even daily, so it’s hard to say exactly where I see myself in five years, but I’m excited to dive headfirst into the festival space and I can’t wait to see where it leads.

Photography by Joy Tatum, Conner Coughenour and Hailee Fortuin. 


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