Christina Olivia represents the quintessential American success story who quietly built her hair empire one extension at a time. With over 36K followers on social media, her clientele includes bold-faced names such as Angela Raiola to Teresa Guidice, who trust their flowing tresses in her capable hands. Her rise to success is a testament to her fierce drive and dedicated focus to chasing her dream. Resident Magazine caught up with Christina to discuss her rise from running a small family run business to becoming CEO of a hair extension empire, and what it’s like to be the star of TLC’s newly launched reality series- Hair Goddess.
RM: How did you get into the business?
CO: About ten years ago I started working with a woman who had a hair extension business in Long Island. When I was nineteen she moved to Vegas and handed me all of her clients. I took over, and one year later ventured off to start my own business.
RM: Did you have an investor?
A: I started the business out of my parent’s garage. I began building my clientele and saving money to open the shop in Staten Island. Once I’d saved enough money doing that I was able to start this. It didn’t happen overnight. I worked very hard to get here and I opened my first salon in May 2016.
CO: Do you and your sister have different specialities?
A: Victoria is my assistant at the moment. My business has grown so much that my days are now booked solid. Victoria will be able contribute more, because I am going to get ready to put her on the floor. We are really excited about it.
RM: How did you get involved with TLC?
CO: TLC found me. It’s a funny story. A wife of one producer came in for a consult and I didn’t hear from her for a few months later when I got a call from her husband. He asked if I would ever consider doing reality TV. At the time I had never really gave that any thought. So, I went to the studio with the girls to do interviews. I was in Napa with my husband a year later and bumped into the producer. His wife who came in for the consult works for the Food Network and instantly I connected the dots. Something must have sparked that night because a week later he called with news that TLC was giving them money to fund a pilot. We filmed last summer for two 20 hour days for the episode. Later I went in to the office to meet with the producer and VP, this was when they told me I got the show! My mom and I were hysterical.
RM: Take us through shooting. How has your experience been?
CO: It’s been really fun, but it’s a lot of work. We film four days a week and we work the other three. We don’t get much time for ourselves.
RM: Do they mainly shoot at the salon or at your house?
CO: We mainly shoot at the salon in New York City. We also do some filming in Staten Island and at my parent’s house. I want to keep my personal life private so my husband doesn’t come on our show.
RM: Do you see yourself having children in the near future?
CO: Where I am at in my life with my career I don’t see kids at this time. I want to see how this season goes for us. But, who knows. Right now, I want to focus on the show. I’ve given some thought about opening up another salon. It would be a small boutique salon in California. I want to keep my options open before I start having kids.
My parents are young. I don’t think that they are dying for me to have kids. I know my in-laws are dying for grandkids.
RM: Are you going to buy something here in New York?
CO: Probably not. I like to work in the city but I don’t see myself living in Manhattan. I like Staten Island. I like the space out there; it has a homier atmosphere. You have the big houses with the nice yards and pools, and my parents live there.
RM: Being Italian we need to ask you what your favorite Italian restaurant is.
CO: In Staten Island it would be Campania, they have really good brick oven pizza. They also have locations in Brooklyn and Miami Beach. In the city I like going to Valhalla over in the meatpacking district.
RM: How long does it usually take to have extensions put in?
CO: An installation takes an hour to an hour and a half.
RM: What is the cost on for an installation?
CO: It depends on what hair you choose. Indian hair starts at $1,500 and Russian hair starts at $2,500. Russian hair is baby fine and it’s a lot harder to get your hands on. That increases the price. Not to mention its virgin hair. Which has never been processed before so this increases its price.
RM: What hair do you have in?
CO: I have both Russian and Indian hair.
RM: How do you get the hair?
CO: I was able to make a really good contact over the past few years. The guy I get my Russian hair from peddles the streets of Russia to gather the hair. When he comes to New York I end up usually buying in bulk. It’s part of the business over there. They sell their hair to make money. Generally here they don’t want to cut their hair, or need to. It’s not a necessity here to sell their hair for money like it is in Russia.
RM: Is it the same for India?
CO: In India there is a couple of different traditions. One tradition actually is that when you get married you shave your head.
RM: Is there a black market for hair? Do people try to tell you they have Russian hair and sell you something else?
CO: I don’t think a lot of salons carry the Russian hair for a couple of reasons. It’s costly and it’s also harder to sell. You need to have the clientele for it. I buy in bulk so I usually always have a bunch of it. Our Indian hair is so good it can pass for Russian hair.
RM: How can you tell the difference between the hairs?
A: The Russian hair is baby fine, like a little girls ponytail.
RM: Does it frizz more though?
CO: Indian hair actually frizzes more. It’s coarser with a natural frizz.
RM: You mentioned you have a psychic tell us about that.
CO: She actually predicted that I was going to have a show. I have it all recorded on my phone. She predicted this five years ago. I do her hair also. While I was putting in her hair she said to me “ I wonder if now I will be connected to the ancestors of this hair.” I will have to follow up on that. She’s said some pretty interesting things though.
RM: That came to fruition.
CO: Well she mentioned the Beverly Hills salon, but that was already in my mind. Maybe she read my mind. She also said the show was going to be big so we’ll have to wait and see.
Be sure to catch Hair Goddess on TLC.com