Highbrow Hippie founders Myka Harris and Kadi Lee share the rituals that keep them grounded, emboldened, and inspired.
– KEYS SOULCARE
It’s clear to anyone following Highbrow Hippie that their vision for community and connection goes way deeper than their spa services. What started as a bi-coastal blog by hair colorist Kadi Lee and beauty entrepreneur Myka Harris has evolved into a real-life Los Angeles lifestyle destination.
And this pair deepens the definition of “beauty industry pro” at every turn: from being the sole Black-owned business on the trendy Abbot Kinney block, to midnight chronicles of mixing DIY custom hair color kits for celebrity clients.
We grabbed a chat to talk about what keeps them inspired.
How are you caring for yourselves right now?
Myka: I’ve been making an effort towards no screens after 9pm and reading before bed. I find that by 9:30pm, I’m passing out! I also practice Purna yoga, a very comprehensive style that’s all about self-connection. It’s not [the kind of yoga] where you have to put your legs behind your head, it’s about creating balance in the body so you could practice well into your 90s.
Kadi: We’ve always said that if you’re gonna dream, dream really big and out loud. I’ve always wanted my own line of caftans. So even as I’m wearing and posting about vintage caftans on our Instagram, I’m thinking, “What would mine look like?”
More broadly, if I am going to be here at the salon working all day, I’m going to make it as joyful as I can — not save something beautiful to wear for a rainy day. This is my life rightnow. So I’m going to express myself by listening to the best music and having beautiful things around me.
Let’s talk about your IG Live Patio Chats, where you discussed everything from business to economic activism.
Myka: They’re actually an extension of our [pre-COVID-19] MLK Day celebration dinner on race, [held] here at the atelier. We hosted 16 women of different ages and races. We all sat in a circle and mixed everyone up so they had to serve one another. It started with a two-hour dinner plan and lasted four-and-a-half [hours]!
What was one of the biggest topics?
Kadi: Intersectional feminism. There’s such a disconnect between white feminism and racism. Some of the guests thought they’d been doing all this good, but realized they really weren’t accomplishing much if it meant leaving their Black and Brown sisters behind, not recognizing their totally different experiences.
Myka: Our IG Patio Chats were a natural extension [of the dinner]. There were so many things swirling around, from Black Lives Matter to [COVID-19]. We hadn’t seen people in a long time and Kadi has to see people to work.
Kadi: I was getting ready to rebook all the clients upon [Los Angeles businesses] reopening. And I had a couple of interactions with some that were very tear-filled and walking on eggshells. I thought, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to have 200 white women walking in here all day long, afraid to talk to me.” I saw disaster looming.
Myka: She said, “We’re gonna reframe it. Let’s let everyone know how we feel about all of this stuff, so we don’t have to talk about it all the time.”
Kadi: We turned on the camera and talked. So many of our clients and friends tuned in with comments like, “Thank you so much for doing this. This is medicine.”
What were your conversations with each other like during this time?
Kadi: We were marching. We looked at each other during everything, and said, “If they burn this shit to the ground, so be it, because it is time for change.” Yes, we have worked so hard for this, but if we don’t have equal rights, and if they don’t stop killing us, none of this matters.
You could show up every day sharing only challenges or pretending you haven’t had to change to stay open. You’ve struck a real balance…
Kadi: We share lots of cheeky off-the-cuff stuff, but when it comes to taking care of our clients, there are no gray areas. This is a business that involves chemicals and service and ultimately keeping people safe.
Myka: We’ve found ways to have a lighter touch. Like, “Wait a minute…we can be gentle and still have high standards.” I don’t wear shoes in my home and there’s all sorts of energy tracked in on the bottom of your shoes, anyway. So we got these beautiful slippers that people can change into. We check temperatures on the inner wrist. The temple is so aggressive!
What’s your highest vision for yourself?
Myka: To continue to grow. It’s really about who I am, and being confident and secure in myself to keep evolving. I don’t want to be the same person five years from now that I am today.
Kadi: After everything happened with Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, it became very clear to me that America is not where I am going to retire. I didn’t feel like I could live my best life here. I’d like to somehow have my Jamaican childhood wrap back into it. Maybe have a Highbrow Hippie healing center there, help children that don’t have as many opportunities as I did, just because my family immigrated. I didn’t come from a lot of money. If it stops with me, that’s not enough.
What keeps you inspired to keep doing what you do each day?
Kadi: This industry can be so plastic, and at the end of the day, we’re two Black women who have a lot of layers. I’ve spent 20 difficult years “being” a certain way in other peoples’ spaces. Now, I come to work with my shoulders relaxed, because it’s our home.
How are you holding space for community in your everyday work and life?