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Celebrity Hairstylist Justine Marjan Is Just Getting Started

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Happy Women’s History Month! To celebrate, we’re spotlighting beauty trailblazers and IPSY brand partners who are putting their stamp on the industry. These women are pushing for inclusivity, breaking business barriers, and innovating from a whole new perspective—and we’re all the better for it.

Some children grow up wanting to be a pilot; others dream of being a postal worker or a princess. As a child, Justine Marjan set her sights on becoming President of the United States…but not for the reason you think. “I wanted everything to be beautiful and would get upset when we would be on a drive, and the road would be decrepit, or an area didn’t have landscaping,” recalls Marjan. “I dreamed of being President one day, so I could plant flowers all along ugly roads.”

While we aren’t calling her Madam President (yet), Marjan's innate appreciation for all things beautiful has proven to serve her well in her current career as a celebrity hairstylist. She’s behind some of our all-time favorite hairstyles, like Ashley Graham’s velvet bow-adorned bun, Kim Kardashian’s '90s-era crimped ponytail, and pretty much every style worn by Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Dorit Kemsely (special shout-out to her five-foot long braid from season 10).

So how did Marjan go from a little girl with big dreams to being one of the most sought-after hairstylists in the business? Keep scrolling to find out.

Discovering Her Calling

Marjan grew up in Carpinteria, California (a small town just south of Santa Barbara), where she fulfilled her role as the oldest child to a T. She was studious, maintained good grades, and was the ultimate overachiever, but it was her passion for beauty, art, photography, and fashion that played the biggest role in her come up. “My old babysitter always talks about how I used to draw pictures of outfits when I was young, and I loved picking out all my own looks,” says Marjan. “I used to chase my younger sister around the house and beg her to let me braid her hair. She hated it.”

It didn’t take long for word of her hairstyling skills to spread—at least throughout Carpinteria. “I started styling all my friend’s hair and did their makeup before school dances, and I was braiding everyone’s hair on the school bus,” says Marjan. “I also used to style my sister’s hair with all the cheerleading moms before competitions.”

After graduating high school, Marjan started working as a salon receptionist in Santa Barbara. It was at this very job that she discovered the world of professional hairstyling went far beyond a salon. “This was before social media, so access to industry insiders and behind-the-scenes was not known,” says Marjan. “At the salon, however, I learned that someone does the hair for fashion shows, advertising campaigns, red carpets, and photoshoots. This is when I became clear on my goals for my career.”

A Foot in the Door

Marjan soon learned there is a long road between realizing your goals and fulfilling them. “I worked in that salon for eight years,” says Marjan. “I was taking advanced and master classes every six months, so I could constantly learn, grow, and refine my skills. I was also hoping to network and meet people who could point me in the direction I was yearning towards. I never found any networking opportunities from all my classes, and I had a hard time finding people willing to take a chance on me.”

Everything shifted with the invention of social media. Before then, industry pros were not accessible. Instagram changed all that. Suddenly you could personally message big names like Kristin Ess and Jen Atkin with the click of a button, which is exactly what Marjan did. “I replied to a job posting on Jen’s Instagram,” says Marjan. “I didn’t hear back for months, until I got a call from her then assistant asking me if I could work an event the next day. I canceled my plans and did it.”

While Marjan didn’t actually meet Atkin at that job, she made sure to keep in contact with Atkin’s assistant. She was eventually called into Atkin’s salon for a trial, but they ended up going with another assistant. This was where Marjan’s don’t-give-up attitude and years of honing her skills at the salon paid off. She continued to stay in contact and was persistent about her availability and strong work ethic. They eventually brought her on to assist Atkin both personally and with hair. She was even able to help with the launch of Mane Addicts (Atkin’s online hair community). “I had no ego and was willing to do whatever was needed,” says Marjan. “I think this is one of the most important qualities in an assistant.”

Her First Big Break

Marjan assisted Atkin for years, learning everything she could from the seasoned pro about hairstyling and the celebrity glam world. It was during this time that Marjan had her first big break: styling Kim Kardashian solo. “[Kim] made me feel very comfortable and was able to direct exactly what she wanted with her hair very clearly,” says Marjan. “I used to watch The Kardashians with my dad in a tiny apartment we shared when my parents got divorced, so getting to work with them felt surreal and like such an accomplishment. I am grateful to still get to work with her and the family nearly eight years later.”

Flash forward, and Marjan’s celebrity clientele list has catapulted. Not only is she a Kardashian glam squad regular, but she also works with big names like Olivia Culpo, Kerry Washington, Camila Cabello, Ashley Graham, and Shay Mitchell (we could go on and on), and has contracts with massive brands like TRESEMMÉ and GHD.

She’s not done yet. Her list of dream clients is just as impressive. “I’d love to work with Blake Lively and Selena Gomez because they have the most gorgeous hair; Hilary Duff because she’s so cute, and I think we would be friends; and Alexa Demi, Hunter Schafer, and Maude Apatow because I love their style,” says Marjan. Knowing her impressive styling skills and tenacity, we wouldn’t be surprised to see any of these women above pop up on Marjan’s roster soon.

Being Her Own Boss

Unlike her days in the salon, Marjan’s life as a freelance hairstylist puts everything in her hands (literally). “I love that no two days are the same, and I get to work with so many different inspiring women at so many different locations,” says Marjan. “When I was younger, I would beat myself up if I wasn’t booked all the time, but I’ve learned that life as an artist is an ebb and flow.” Becoming a mother to son Avishai last March might have something to do with this newfound appreciation for her time off.

“Having a son has brought a whole new perspective to my life,” says Marjan. “I am so grateful to be able to provide for him but even more grateful to get to spend so much time with him. I take much less personally now in my career and really have a broader perspective about what is important in life.”

Like most working moms, Marjan has found that the myth of balance is her biggest challenge. “I don’t know if that even exists,” she says. “I’ve accepted that I can’t do everything all the time and sometimes certain areas of my life will flourish while others take a back seat.” And when she’s on the clock, she credits inventions like the Elvie (a wearable, all-in-one breast pump) and her supportive partner for helping her make it work.

“I am grateful to live in a time where women don’t need to be ashamed for being the breadwinner,” she says. “Many women I know in creative fields are the ones carrying their household these days. [Avishai’s] father is the ultimate feminist, so I am happy he has such a kind and supportive man to look up to.”

Want more Women’s History Month reads? Check out our list of Female-Founded Beauty Brands to shop this month (and always!), learn how Anastasia Soare changed your brow game forever, see how KOSAS founder Sheena Yaitanes is redefining makeup minimalism, and discover how MENTED COSMETICS took beauty inclusion to the next level.

Want in on all the IPSY Glam Bag fun? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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About the author
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Maddie Aberman
Maddie is the senior manager of editorial at IPSY. She’s been covering beauty and wellness for more than nine years. Her work has appeared in Allure, Cosmopolitan, Popsugar, Women's Health, Good Housekeeping, and Seventeen, among other publications.
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Article Last Updated February 24, 2022 12:00 AM