There's no question that Cardi B is winning. The rapper's recently released album Invasion of Privacy has quickly climbed the charts and her chameleon-esq beauty looks constantly turn heads. To delve deeper into the latter, we spoke with the mastermind behind some of Cardi's most iconic looks.
Francisco Maymi, better known as Fran, is the man behind the artist's hairstyles. His journey, however, has been just that, a journey. Unlike many stylists, he didn't dream of doing hair since birth and only decided to take it seriously three short years ago. After graduating from high school, he received his professional training from cosmetology school in his hometown of Delaware before assisting in a local salon.
After being introduced to Cardi B through a mutual contact, he was given the chance of a lifetime to style her hair for an appearance. Needless to say, Cardi approved and brought him on exclusively, eventually bringing him with her on tour to bless her strands.
Since then, Fran has styled Cardi B’s hair for numerous red carpets, magazines and music videos. We chatted with him about how he got his start in the industry, why he created his own line of hair extensions, and quick tips for women on how to maintain healthy hair.
ESSENCE: How did Cardi B become your client?
Francisco Maymi: My previous publicist was also Cardi’s publicist and owned the salon I used to work at in Delaware. Cardi needed a hairstylist and she connected us. It’s been history ever since! I love working with her and wouldn’t trade [my] experiences for the world.
ESSENCE: Cardi B switches up her hair a lot. Do you encourage her to take risks?
Maymi: Yes, I love to encourage her to take risks. I had to gain her trust first, before trying certain looks and colors. When we first started out, she liked more familiar looks.
ESSENCE: Where do you find inspiration for your hairstyles?
Maymi: I just love to create new looks or go for styles I know haven’t been done yet. And if they have, I like to bring my own twist to it.
ESSENCE: Where did you find inspiration for the blonde bob from the BET Awards?
Maymi: After seeing her outfit for the BET awards, I knew I wanted to make a statement with her hair. Cardi is sometimes scared of color, but I knew that blonde bob would speak volumes.
ESSENCE: Where did you get inspiration from the Jimmy Fallon interview with the bouffant?
Maymi: Teaming up with her stylist, Kollin Carter, we came up with the vintage look. It was time to switch it up and we knew exactly what to do.
ESSENCE: When it comes to creating a look, what comes first the outfit or the hair?
Maymi: The outfit usually comes first, but sometimes we collaborate on ideas and new looks.
ESSENCE: What other celebrities have you worked with?
Maymi: I was exclusive with Cardi B while I was on tour with her. Recently, we agreed that I could take on other celebrity clients. And you'll have to keep your eyes peeled for who I work with next.
ESSENCE: You’re also an entrepreneur. Tell us about your line, Luxury Extensions by Fran.
Maymi: I launched my extension line at the beginning of this year. It was a goal I set for myself. I’ve always known how quality hair should feel and look, so I thought it was only right to start a company. I provide frontals and will be selling wigs soon.
ESSENCE: What advice would you give newcomers to wigs and extensions?
Maymi: Make sure that you are buying quality hair, lace, etc. A lot of companies overcharge for poor quality. Also, make sure you use a wig cap that matches your skin tone for a more natural look.
ESSENCE: How do you maintain hair extensions and keep the scalp healthy?
Maymi: A silk scarf every single night helps maintain the hair and keeps it flat. For the scalp, I recommend applying a natural oil or grease before install.
ESSENCE: What’s next for you?
Maymi: I’m currently on a 10-city tour teaching my tricks and tips on how to install a frontal. I have more projects with Cardi dropping soon, and more celebrities have booked me so I’m excited for everyone to see these projects.
ESSENCE: One last thing, what's one piece of advice you'd give your younger self?
Maymi: Never give up on your dreams! This industry is cutthroat, but dreams do come true.
This article was edited for brevity and clarity.