Articles > Celebrity Hairdressers > BTC Exclusive: How Graham Nation Built A Celebrity Clientele & Found Success in Hollywood Hair
Last updated: May 20, 2024

BTC Exclusive: How Graham Nation Built A Celebrity Clientele & Found Success in Hollywood Hair

Graham Nation interview exclusive @grahamnation SexyHair
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Photo Credit: Instagram via @grahamnation @staygold31

Get To Know Graham Nation: How He Builds His Portfolio, Connects With Brands & Retains Celebrity Clients

He’s the creator of our favorite It-girls’ looks, snatches the styles on the hottest magazine covers and remains a nationally-recognized educator on and offline: Graham Nation (@grahamnation) is a name to remember. Although his humble beginnings in Denver are untelling of his Hollywood success, Graham is leading the way in celebrity hairstyling.


BTC got the special opportunity to chat with Graham, and we’re sharing his story from start to finish. Keep reading to learn about the influence of networking in his career, how he packages a celebrity glam session and his tips for getting brand deals.


Scroll through to see some of Graham’s work on his impressive A-list clientele: 

Photo Credit: Instagram via @grahamnation on model Winnie Harlow


Starting In Celebrity Hair: The Importance of Networking

For Graham, moving to LA to specialize in celebrity hair was his goal ever since he learned it was possible. He started his career in Denver, Colorado, building a clientele and networking until he made the leap to Los Angeles. Once settled in Cali, friends he knew from Denver referred him to Ken Pavés, Owner of Ken Pavés Salon and longtime stylist to celebrities like Jessica Simpson, Victoria Beckham, Celine Dion and Jennifer Lopez.


“It was really crazy,” Graham shared. “Ken used to do The Biggest Loser transformations, and I met him when he was on set filming. It was Ken, makeup artists, producers, contestants and I came in and I met everybody. Ken looked at me and said, ‘What do you want to do?’’ And I said my goal is celebrity hair. I was really open and honest with him. Looking back, it was wild because it was in front of a ton of people I didn’t know and I was like, ‘Hey, I got to just put it out there.’”


Graham Nation interview exclusive @grahamnation SexyHair
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Photo Credit: Instagram via @grahamnation


Building Your Portfolio: Get Ready To Work For Free

Every day that Graham wasn’t working full time in the salon, he gave up his spare time to do hair for free. “I was styling an influencer or doing something for free. I’ve done so many free photoshoots in my career,” Graham revealed. 


For Graham, the unpaid work was about perfecting his craft. “I wanted to get the reps in. I was like, ‘OK, I know how to curl hair. But how can I do it [differently]?’ Ken also opened me up to that. I was doing photoshoots and my outcome was similar. He was like, ‘Hey, here are some more [tools], try this.’ I can’t say enough good things about Ken.”


After years of dedication, Graham is a Lead Educator for SexyHair, showcasing his cutting and styling skills on stages across America. Scroll through the slides to see Graham educating at Premiere Beauty Shows Orlando, at Henkel Academy for SexyHair’s annual Education Connection training and more:


Photo Credit: Instagram via @grahamnation


How To Gain & Retain Celebrity Clients

Building a loyal salon clientele is very different than retaining celebrity clients. Graham credits his success to three things: Do good work, be yourself and always read the room.


“It always comes back to the work. I tell people that all the time—do good work,” Graham explained. “And document good photos of that work. There are people out there who get massive brand deals in the celebrity world who have no followers, but their work is good.” 


Next, it’s important to be yourself and have fun: “You’re with this client for two hours. So, you don’t want to come in and be a ‘Debbie Downer’ and unload your problems on these people. I think it’s different than in the salon because you kind of share problems. You’re each other’s therapists,” Graham shared.


As we can imagine, celebrity clients have much different lives than our salon clients. “Ken taught me that you want to have fun and be a refresher. A lot of times, for the two hours the celebrity is in glam, that’s their break. They might go on camera for the next four hours. So they’re trying to calm down, they’re trying to relax. Reading the room is a big part of it. There are some glam sessions that I might not say but a few words,” Graham added.


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Photo Credit: Instagram via @grahamnation on actress and model Madison Bailey


How To Package A Celebrity Glam Session

To ensure the entire look is cohesive, Graham packages his celebrity glam sessions to include hair, makeup and wardrobe. “We’re all working together: So you, the makeup artist and the stylist are on the same page,” Graham shared.


That way, the team can create a plan that complements all elements: “If the clothes are wild, you want to maybe scale back the makeup or the hair. Or it might be like, ‘This calls for a hair moment—let’s go wild with the hair.’ Or if it’s a makeup moment, let’s keep the hair more sleek and simple, right? You’re in a constant dance of working together with a team which, personally, I absolutely love.”


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Photo Credit: Instagram via @grahamnation on actress and Youtuber Lana Condor


Working With Brands & The Power Of Instagram

Now collaborating for over a year, Graham’s partnership with SexyHair proves the power of our favorite digital canvas, Instagram: “I was tagging the brand, then we started chatting and trying to figure out what I could offer. A lot of that came from what I was doing with my previous brand: A lot of education, speaking to the consumer about products, haircare at-home. I feel like there’s not a lot of information about that. I found my lane being able to crossover to the consumer, as well as the hairdresser.”


Graham also loves the partnership because he gets to cultivate his creativity: “In this career, you can get stale on anything. You’re going to start repeating yourself, it’s going to turn into a job and you’re not going to really enjoy it, right? You have to keep it fresh. SexyHair is a brand that allows me to be creative.”


Want to know Graham’s go-to from SexyHair? The Tri-Wheat Leave-In Conditioner. “It’s a heat protectant and moisture product. It’s amazing.”


To keep up with Graham’s latest celebrity work and get ahead of the trends your clients will be asking for, follow his Instagram: @grahamnation.


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