20 Minutes with Reza Hair

The hottest hairdresser in town about medical wigs, how trashy is the new cool and breaking gender-boundaries

She's the woman behind the hairstyles of your favourite influencer, musician and celebrity. Teresa Hofmeister turns everyone into Heines' siren Lorelay – colouring, cutting and combing all of our hair into the newest trend-look bewitching not only admirers but, most importantly, ourselves. What started as a hair salon quickly became an Instagram sensation, an extensions brand and now is on its way to conquer the wig market. With Reza Hair, Teresa changes the look and feel of wigs and cancels the culture of shame. Wearing a wig – whether it's for an editorial shoot, a red carpet event or to chemotherapy – just became the new cool!

We met with Teresa in her Mitte-salon, surrounded by dogs, tattooed hair artists and leopard-furniture and talked about the stigma of wigs, celebrity-looks, the courage to be ugly and stereotypes of long-haired men and short-haired women.

Nele Tüch: You have your own hairdressing salon, you are a hair and make-up artist, you go on shootings and productions - you also do campaigns and now you have your own series of extensions and you start producing wigs. Can you tell me something about that?
Teresa Hofmeister: The idea behind developing extensions was born out of necessity. We work with four or five very good extension brands, but we always had to colour them ourselves, because I was missing the exact nuances I needed. Some of the artists I work with travel a lot and are in the sun a lot, but this causes the colour to fade very quickly. At some point, I came up with the idea of developing six shades that would last longer.

And during this period a very good friend of mine contacted me. His twin sister got cancer, the diagnosis came overnight and she really did lose her hair within 14 days. She felt so terribly uncomfortable and my good friend asked if I could make a wig for her. I then tried to make a wig by remote diagnosis, based on photos of how her hair used to look. And it worked so well that the people in chemotherapy thought that her hair had never fallen out. She then recommended me to other patients - in the therapy sessions or in the chemo sessions. It really started with word of mouth. Now we work a lot in this area and are even allowed to bill health insurance companies.

NT: That was the beginning, what are you going to do now?
Teresa Hofmeister: Soon we want to do a complete relaunch of the brand. In the online shop, I would like to sell not only classic wigs, but also have a nice information page, which is aimed specifically at young girls who, for health reasons such as autoimmune diseases or alopecia, have to deal with these topics in the long term and inform them about their possibilities.

NT: So the idea is that the wigs can be individualised, that they can be perfectly adapted to the person?
Teresa Hofmeister: Exactly, we have two options that we offer. On the one hand, there are many young girls who contact us with a recipe, but on the other hand, there are also artists from film and television who ask us. For health insurance patients, we prefer that they come for a consultation. We take the measurements of the head and can experiment a little bit. We make all wigs on request, and that means that custom-made wigs are of course difficult to exchange - they are still a hygiene article. So it can happen that we send the wig there, the customer tries the wig and then notices that the colour is perhaps still a little too ashy. Then we adjust it. I always say to my customers: "Look at it like a hairdressing appointment, it's just that you can't come. Your hair was alone at the salon. “ At the end of the day, I want my customers to feel comfortable with the wig.

"They're brave, they wear wigs, and they stand by them. This helps our medical patients to find their wig cool"

NT: There are already established brands on the market, but the idea that it can be personalized and follows the latest style trends is new?
Teresa Hofmeister: We orientate ourselves a lot on the stars in New York. You can see it by looking at the Kardashians: They're brave, they wear wigs, and they stand by them. This also helps our medical patients to find their wig cool. I used to work in Frankfurt am Main, where we also worked with wigs, and there it was a huge feeling of shame to even try one on. It was always: "Oh God, this is embarrassing". I heard that word so often. But in the meantime, the stigma has dissolved a bit.

NT: Wigs used to be something embarrassing, something that had to be done. Now they're so cool that people can actually show them off...
Teresa Hofmeister: During the quarantine period, I once went to the Charité, to the children's station. I work a lot with artists that the kids know and love, like Bonnie Strange for example, and I can talk a little bit about who wears a wig in which music video. Of course, they get a twinkle in their eye and say "If she wears a wig, I can proudly tell my friends that I wear one too". Then wigs suddenly become something cool and nothing embarrassing anymore.

I would like to specialize in those people who need a wig for health reasons, but who don't really feel picked up by conventional alternatives. I can make use of the coolness factor and of course the know-how of my team. I have four people in my team, who have 15 years of experience, have coloured worldwide and are simply extremely good at colouring hair. We can then dye the wigs ourselves. It is, of course, different whether a hair colour has been created by machine in the factory or has been matched to you at the hairdresser.

"A look can be a bit trashy today if it's well done. For me, there is almost nothing better!"

NT: As you just said, you and your team orientate yourselves around the stars, you mentioned the Kardashians... are the next trends already emerging?
Teresa Hofmeister: Slowly we are starting to float with the current a little bit here in Germany as well. I no longer have the feeling that it will take a long time for the trends to get here. That used to be different, now it's much faster. Of course, we are in a bubble in Berlin, here we are becoming much bolder. Colour-Blocking is totally coming back at the moment. So much is allowed. A look can be a bit trashy today if it's well done. For me, there is almost nothing better!

NT: When it comes to editorials at the moment, Janina Zais, who paints her models' buzzcuts, is totally hyped.
Teresa Hofmeister: Yeah, that's so cool, and people dare to wear it. I also think it's nice that it's becoming more and more unisex. Right now I have very short hair and look like a buddy of mine who has exactly the same hairstyle. I enjoy playing with the fact that people can't completely understand the new look yet. I like this courage to be ugly. The courage to wear totally pink hair with a black strand in the front. I don't care if people like it or not. And women like Janina show that. Many women see that, dare to do it and Janina puts a flame on it. Mega! In the past, it was only for the photo. And now it becomes suitable for everyday use.

NT: I find it interesting that you just mentioned the unisex aspect. Long hair is usually equated with femininity. But you can be incredibly feminine when you have a buzz cut. I think it's really nice that this image is changing: Away from the stereotypical feminine appearance and towards a feel-good attitude and more self-confidence.
Teresa Hofmeister: You won't believe how many requests we get from men for wigs - from men who want to wear longhaired wigs. For an editorial, a stylist from the team did the hair of the male models - of course, they all had a mega body and looked super awesome with these wigs. Afterwards, the demand for the wigs increased dramatically. For example, I got a request from a guy who is the biggest heavy metal fan and whose hair doesn't grow that long. It was so cool.

NT: Men who have long hair, paint their fingers, use make-up or generally take care of their appearance are unfortunately still often judged...
Teresa Hofmeister: Totally, I have a regular customer who is an internationally successful DJ and had blonde hair, but wanted to go "back to nature" again. We coloured his natural hair colour, but afterwards, he said that he somehow misses the “glitter”. So I suggested painting his fingernails. He was unsure and asked: "Yes, but can I do that? Am I allowed to do that as a man? Can I paint my fingernails?" We just tried it. We were alone in the salon that night, and we started with one finger. Then we did both hands: One finger black, one finger white. He went out super proudly. And that makes me happy - if I can help blur the boundaries and people start to realize that it doesn't matter what other people think.

"Even I get messages from people back home who ask if I am queer now because I have short hair. And then they are telling me no man would like my hair like this. He doesn't have to, I have to like it! There's still a lot to be done. If you don't set an example yourself, it can’t change..."

NT: I think it is important that heterosexual men start to use female stereotypes, so that boundaries blur and femininity - whether in men or women - is enhanced. In Berlin, this has, of course, reached the middle of society, but too often men and women are still discriminated against because of their non-conformity.
Teresa Hofmeister: This is exactly what I meant when I said that in Berlin we are still in a bubble. I have a client who is married to a man, they have been living together in New York for years. He comes from near my hometown Mannheim and now he had to go back to the small village in Hessen where he comes from. He brought his husband with him from the USA, who also has a darker skin colour. The people in the village were totally shocked, and the two of them were not used to it at all anymore. In New York, of course, that's absolutely no problem at all.

Even I get messages from people back home, let it be school friends who ask if I am queer now because I have short hair. And then, as a bonus, they are telling me no man would like my hair like this. He doesn't have to, I have to like it! And if someone doesn't understand that, then he doesn't suit me. There's still a lot to be done. If you don't set an example yourself, it can’t change...