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Mar 16 2011

Interviews with Interesting Jews: Cozy Friedman

By at 12:30 pm

Cozy Friedman is all about hair. Kid’s hair, that is. With three salons that are more akin to FAO Schwartz than Vidal Sassoon, the “So Cozy Hair Care for Children” product line, and her book, Cozy’s Complete Guide to Girls’ Hair, she is the authority on cool cuts for kids. We’ve talked to her about the popular ‘dos for kids today, the key to experiencing a kid-friendly haircut, and that dreaded Jewish friz.

How did you get into hair, and why did you decide to focus on kids’ cuts?

A friend of mine was telling me about a terrible experience she’d had taking her nephew to an “adult” salon for a haircut. He was terrified and ended up being asked to leave after he started crying. When I asked her why she wouldn’t have taken him to a place for kids, I was struck by her response–such a place didn’t exist. It kind of seemed like a no-brainer from there–parents were in need of a place that they could bring their kids for a haircut where they would feel welcome, not like a nuisance. I was so sure that this was so desperately needed, I quit my job and went to barber school. The rest is history!

What are some of the common problems that Jewish girls have with their hair?

Many Jewish girls (Eastern European descendants in general) have curly or wavy hair.  This hair type is the most misunderstood, meaning girls don’t always understand the proper way to manage their hair.  They often end up with frizzy, tangled locks and assume that they just don’t have “good” hair.

Orthodox Jews often participate in a ritual called upsheren, where a boy gets his first haircut at age three. What age do you recommend going in for the first haircut?

It really should be done on a case by case basis. There are boys, like you mention, who don’t come in for their first haircut until three for religious reasons, and there are some little boys who are much younger, coming in to get their heads almost completely shaved. Different heritages have different customs. It’s really a personal decision that the parents should be making, based on their culture and the child’s hair. Every child’s hair grows at different speeds, just like some kids walk and talk earlier than others.

Cozy and her sons.

What’s the most popular cut these days? I read that last year all the boys were asking you for Justin Bieber dos.

The Justin Bieber craze is everywhere! Although boys don’t like to ask for it by name (let alone admit that they want to look like Justin!), we had so many boys coming into the salon asking for our stylists to recreate the Bieber look. He recently cut his hair shorter, and believe it or not, I can already see the trend shifting. It seems like young boys are moving away from the long shaggy look.

Do you have tips for parents with adopted children from different ethnicities that might have very different hair types than their own?

Yes, patience!  When it comes to parents dealing with their child’s hair, it can be seriously traumatizing, regardless of ethnicity. I have really curly hair, and when I was growing up, no one ever told me that you’re not supposed to brush curly hair, because it turns into a giant “frizzball”. That’s why I included a section in my new book about hair texture and type, as a kind of guide for confused parents. If you take the time to learn what works and what doesn’t work for your child, everyone will be happy!

How do you calm down a child who is afraid of getting a hair cut?

In one word–DISTRATION! At Cozy’s Cuts for Kids Salons, our whole philosophy is rooted in the idea of making something that is scary for a child actually an enjoyable experience. All of our salons are also toy stores, the seats that the kids sit in are designed in fun shapes like airplanes and cars, and we even have someone on staff whose sole job it is to entertain the kids if they’re upset. It’s all about distracting the child and creating a positive experience.

Is there a certain age that you’ve noticed girls start to get more self-conscious about their hair?

YES!  So much so that I actually have a name for it–I call it The Barbie Syndrome. All of a sudden at age 7, many girls want to grow their hair as long as possible, just like Barbie. Typically, their hair becomes a big focus for them around that age. By age 10, many girls are starting to look at options to “improve’ their hair, although I don’t really see many that are using chemicals yet (straighteners, color, etc.) until their teenage years.

After earning her barber’s license, Cozy opened the doors to her first salon on Madison Avenue in New York City. Fifteen years, three salons, and two kids later, Cozy continues to provide stress-free cuts for New York kids. In response to client demand, Cozy has also created So Cozy Hair Care For Children, the first-ever “designer” line of hair care products created exclusively for kids. In February 2011, Cozy released her debut book, Cozy’s Complete Guide to Girl’s Hair. Visit her website at www.cozycutsforkids.com.

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