May 10, 2021
Link to Spotify
Welcome back to the BRL Friends & Family Playlist! I’m Jackie Martinez, Food Instagrammer for @chopwithjax and writer for the BRL Coffee Company blog. Each week we feature a playlist curated by one of our friends or family members that helps get them up in the morning. This week we’re chatting with my friend -- Wig Maker extraordinaire and creator of @gowigorgohome: Jay Fink
Shimmy those shoulders out of bed and start your day with Jay’s disco and dance music inspired playlist! Check it out along with our conversation on Jay’s wig making journey, what inspires him, and how he practices self-care.
Name: Jay Fink
Hometown: West Hollywood, CA
Occupation: Wig Maker, creator of @gowigorgohome
BRL Favorite & Brew Style: Love$ick, double espresso
JM: Hi Jay! Thank you so much for doing this week’s BRL F&F playlist and taking the time to chat with me. How are you Jay?
JF: Of course! I’m good, I’m good just doing some work. It’s getting consistently warm which is so nice. It’s actually feeling like spring which is great.
JM: That’s good to hear. I think we could all use more sunshine these days. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to these days. Over the past few years I’ve been seeing your work making wigs on Instagram and it’s amazing! How did you get into that?
JF: So I learned how to make wigs back in the very beginning of 2016. Originally I had gone to film school and was living in L.A. and had all of these ideas about what it was that I was going to be doing in my career. I thought that I wanted to be working in development for film. That was finding writers and directors, and getting stories told and made and produced. Through that, I found that I really had the heart of being a maker. I wanted to make things. I also didn’t really like the scene and people that I would have had to spend time with to have a Hollywood sort of life. It wasn’t fun for me.
I gravitated more toward the queer things that always interested me and that sparkled and caught my eye while I was living in my small town growing up. When I moved here [to West Hollywood] I realized that there were all these queer icons and creators, in particular RuPaul and all of the people that come through RuPaul’s Drag Race, that lived here. And I just kind of wanted to exist in that world and work in that space. There was a season of Drag Race where there were two queens -- Violet Chachki and Miss Fame -- and they were both just so stunning. Everything they did was so perfect and seemed like magic to me. In particular, their hair. I just couldn’t figure it out. It looked like it was actually growing out of their head, it was flawless, it was shaped beautifully. So I researched on Instagram and figured out how everything was made and who they were having their wigs made by and it happened that one person that had worked with one of those queens was living in my neighborhood.
JM: Whoa that is so cool!
JF: Yeah! They had moved there from New York and were teaching lessons so I took lessons.
JM: It seems like a very intricate skill and art. Did you pick it up quickly? What was the learning process like for you?
JF: The thing about wig making is that it’s very much a craft and I really appreciate the process that it is. I just wanted to know how it all worked and how to make my work better. But you have to practice and materials aren’t cheap. So what was cool was that in the beginning I had drag queen friends and if they would pay for my materials I could make their wigs for free. You start doing that and people post your work on Instagram and then more people start reaching out to you to work with them. If you plug away at it while you’re doing other things, you can slowly start to build your business. What I learned is that if you want to do something and if you want to be something, just start saying that’s what you are. 2016 was when I started saying I was a wig maker and eventually it took 3 years before it happened and 5 for it to really matter.
JM: In one of our recent conversations, you said, ‘when you knew me I was a completely different person’. And I think that’s true but the thing that is consistent is that you could always see that in your mind and in your actions you were always so curious and hungry to learn and try new things. You were very adventurous and brave. I think it’s so cool that you pursued your interests and practiced and got to the point where you felt like you were and did become a wig maker and are part of the world you admire so much.
JF: Aw thank you! It’s really wild how without even realizing it, RuPaul was kind of a north star in my life. Even before I knew what I was and was even interested in articulating anything like that, I always knew that I was different. I was in elementary school when RuPaul's first album came out. I was living in a very small town in Northeast Pennsylvania and I remember not knowing she was a drag queen and not knowing what a drag queen was...but I just thought she was so cool. It’s just kind of wild that this person and this figure really became someone so integral in my life. I have this career based on my interest in this figure that’s done so much for representation and visibility. Drag Race is on VH1 now, there’re queens showing up on HBO and Netflix! It’s everywhere. People know who these people are. There’re shows all over the world featuring them and it’s really wild and I’m so grateful that I can be a part of that.
JM: That is truly amazing. Do you have a favorite wig that you’ve made? What would you say are your top 3?
JF: What’s really cool and fun about wig making is the process of basically building something where there’s nothing, it's a sort of magical part of it. When you make someone a full lace wig, it’s lace that is darted and sewn and completely hand tied. I made a full lace piece for one of my clients who is just very stunning. My favorite thing was that I worked with someone and we actually braided it all down and did a very intricate cornrowed style. It was 120 hours of tying hair and 40 more hours with braiding. And we made something that looked like it was actually growing out of someone’s head. It was like magic, like special effects.
For the second wig, I worked with a client that’s really fun and does some cool stuff. There’s a red and gold fast food company with a very specific logo that appears on all of their drive-thrus and I was able to concept and design a piece that would turn into that popular food chain’s logo which was very cool.
And the third actually goes away from drag altogether. A close friend of mine had been diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years ago and we cut her hair before she lost it to chemotherapy and I was able to make her a piece with her hair. I was glad to be there with her through cutting her hair and through that whole process. It was cool because I really like what I do but there’s a very practical side to it as well in that hair can provide a lot of comfort to somebody and can serve a purpose in daily life. It’s nice to be able to work in that space creating something that’s real and also something that’s a little bit of a fantasy.
JM: How do you get yourself in the right headspace to create and run your business? Do you usually listen to music in the morning?
JF: I do. It’s very much part of my routine to start my day. I typically wake up, have some coffee, put on a playlist and walk up the hill [Runyon Canyon in L.A.]. While I’m up there I’ll stop and meditate. Then I’ll get my day started from there. Typically what I like is fun, dancey music. Right now I’ve been vibing with disco or 90s/early 2000s kind of throwback dance music.
JM: You mentioned you have a cup of coffee to start your day. Do you remember when you started drinking coffee?
JF: It was within the last 10 years. I was working a job that I wasn't very interested in and I was also working on things that did interest me outside of work. That basically means you’re sleeping very little, so I was finding myself just falling asleep at work. Finally I felt like I just needed to do something about it and there was a single serve easy espresso maker in the office so I would just make myself double espressos.
JM: Wow you went straight to it!
JF: Oh yeah absolutely, I went all in. It was double espressos, all day, every day. And I have to say, I like it. While regularly I will have just a coffee or two in the morning, I still do love an espresso at the end of a meal kind of moment. It feels pretty glam.
JM: It does feel glam, but if I do it I can never sleep afterwards.
JF: Well you know there’s nothing I think is more glamorous than the 1970s and Studio 54 and I think they were up all night because they were drinking too much coffee too.
JM: LOL! Oh yes for sure, it was the double espressos.
JF: Yeah they had some of the best espressos at Studio 54. I think I just read that somewhere.
JM: Did you have any childhood memories of coffee?
JF: My dad would drink it all the time. My mom, who didn’t drink coffee and still doesn’t (she drinks hot tea), would get up and make my dad a pot of coffee every morning. I just remember the smell. I always just loved it and there are few things that I like more than walking into my kitchen and smelling coffee brewing.
JM: What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
JF: On a day off if I can get out to Malibu, I love to hike at Solstice Canyon or Malibu Creek State Park, which are both really gorgeous. If I have a few days off and can get out to Palm Springs, even better. Seeing an ocean nearby or a pool is just as good.
JM: What is something you want to do or do more of in 2021?
JF: In a month or two I get to go home and see my mom and dad. When the pandemic happened it had been a year since I had been home. Then lockdown happened and I wasn’t able to make it out there to see them. In June or July I’ll finally get to go back and see my family. In 2021 I just want to laugh more and hug more people. Make more wigs, drink more coffee. Lol. listen to so many playlists.
Jay, we wish you so much luck and success with your wig-making business and @gowigorgohome! We can’t wait to see what else you have in store for the world. Have a wonderful time spending time with your loved ones.
Interview by Jackie Martinez - Contributing Content Creator, Food Instagrammer for @chopwithjax
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