We had the good fortune of connecting with Georgia Tournai and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Georgia, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Ahh, risk. Such a good question. Growing up for me was tricky, and I think whether I realized it or not, I was always doing a risk assessment in my head for any circumstance. We moved over 12 times and I always had to make new friends, and I think that taught me to be super independent. I would analyse my risks with anything, even at a younger age – would I risk eating pickles and chocolate in one sitting? Would I risk trying out for a part in the theatre troupe? Would I risk telling off that mean girl? I always weighed what my next step would look like before I took it. Moving into adulthood, I put myself through hair school while working two jobs and continued to weigh my options. At 23 I was met by a super eccentric seeming person who said she owned a barber shop and she was looking to retire and sell. I took the risk, met her later that day, and purchased my first barber shop by the end of the week. Fast forward to two years later when my building that I leased was bought out by a new landlord who let my lease lapse to month to month so he could kick me out. He thought he could get more money by kicking me out and putting “his own” barber shop in. I was 25. It wasn’t the first time someone underestimated my grit and my ability to assess risk. I found an investor, bought another building, and expanded and remodeled my barber shop in just 30 days – less time than it took for the old landlord to make his own “barber shop”. As my business boomed, I wanted to tackle one of my other passions: Fashion. Along with me always over-analyzing, I’ve always stood by the famous Carrie Fischer quote, “Stay afraid, but do it anyway.” Everything that I’ve done to push myself forward I’ve been absolutely terrified to do. But guess what? I fucking did it. And now I can proudly say I’ve not only assisted hair, but lead hair for New York, Denver, and Paris Fashion Weeks, I’ve been creative lead for an off-broadway show, I have an IMDB of work, and the list goes on. I guess what I’m trying to say is this – there’s a great art in analyzing and assessing risk. I swear my Edward Jones guy loves me because he never has to explain my risk evaluation to me. But that’s not all of it. It’s not making your decisions based on fear. Instead, base your decisions on your hopes. And I think there’s a lot of people that might really need to hear that right now. Anytime you see an opportunity and you feel like you can’t do it – whether it be that the coffee drive thru line is empty or that you get to assist hair backstage of a runway show – remember to ask yourself first, “Am I saying no because I’m afraid of the unknown or what might happen? Am I saying no because it’s too good to be true? Or am I saying no solely for the fact that I’m scared?” Do it. Say yes. Go get that coffee and go rock some hair backstage. Go show them who’s boss – you.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Growing up as a queer kid in a Roman Catholic and Indigenous household that moved once a year wasn’t easy, but it helped define who I am today. A lot of my story isn’t much different from anyone else’s – I dabbled in drugs, tried committing suicide, was a little metal head punk rock kid in high school. I never had a problem with independence and figuring out what my next step was. I put myself through hair school while also working two other jobs after realizing that the world needed more gender-neutral hairstylists and salons because me and my friend couldn’t get our hair shaved off like we wanted. That’s how I knew I needed to do this – have an outlet to create and do good at the same time. Hair is about human discovery. It is about connecting and helping some to grow into the molds they only dreamed they could fill, and breaking others out who may have felt trapped in the molds they were handed. It is about breaking convention, it’s about shedding the weight of other’s expectations from your shoulders, redefining something that seems trivial, and turning it into something creative and empowering. That’s why I do what I do.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d definitely take them to Hamburger Mary’s and Blush & Blu. They’re classic and chill – and a riot when the queens are out. That’s my type of scene. We’d have to go to the Zoo, or maybe the Art Museum, depending on what the new installments were. If the theatre was open, that’d be an option, too! I also always like to recommend The Curtis for the night if you like to chill and play board games – and we can’t forget The Clocktower Cabaret for some underground late night entertainment.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Tatem Tournai, my wife and best friend Danny Bristoll, my friend and creative confidant & co-writer of Finding Beautiful Darrell DeWitt, an amazing colleague Shayna Ariel of DarkM0th Industries, for trusting me with your vision Charlie Price, my mentor for getting me started
Kim Desmond Photography & Robin Fulton