We scoured the country to find the most sizzling salons and innovative stylists to show us what they do best—create show-stopping hairstyles! If you’re a stylist or salon-owner who would like to share your photos, please send an email with your contact info and salon’s website link to BeautyEditors @essence.com.

Stylist: Kem Juan Simmons
Salon: Knappology
Location: Richmond, CA

How long have you been styling hair?
I have been styling hair since I was 14 years old, but a licensed cosmetologist for 12 years.

What is the best part of your job as a stylist?
The best part of my job as a stylist is the relationships that have developed over the years. My clients and I have
been through weddings, baby showers, menopause, husbands, boyfriends, funerals, children growing up, and children going off to college. Some ofmy clients have become family and my dearest friends.

View photos of salon styles from Knappology here!

What do you love most about styling natural hair?
I love the options and versatility. If your styling preference is locs, braids,
loose natural hair or an afro, you can rock these styles straight, curled, crinkled, in undo’s, short, long, shaved, and in trendy hair colors. Skills, creativity and imagination equal limitless styling options.

What is your number one piece of advice for someone who wants to go natural?
You have to be secure in yourself. You have to be confident, and you have to be ready.  The world is still sometimes not kind to those of us who choose to wear our hair the way God intended.

Why do you think hair is so important to Black women?
I believe hair is important to our culture in general. But it affects Black women because we’re still learning about our hair and all of the creative ways we can style it. Our hair enhances our identity and is a form of self expression.