FeatherLuxe Hair Extensions take flight with Austin girls

Who would have thought that in just a few months, the young women behind FeatherLuxe Hair Extensions would become some of the most sought-after stylists in Austin? Judging by the growing numbers of women at St. Edward’s university admiring the feathers dangling from their hair, the business has become an overnight success.

“It started with (artist) Ysabel Blu,” said Taylor Gutierrez, a FeatherLuxe staff member who takes appointments at Mana Culture on S. First Street. “Her friend was going to go to Canada to get these feathers put in her hair with wire. And so Ysabel said, ‘Wait a minute. Let me think of something.'”

And so FeatherLuxe was born. But what many people see as just another trend has surprisingly spiritual roots. “In the beginning, Native Americans used feathers in different ways. I see this as something really great. Whenever we do this, when we put these in your hair, it’s just like what our ancestors did,” Gutierrez said.

FeatherLuxe affixes the long feathers into clients’ hair using a small metal clasp that is tightened with a pair of pliers. Once fixed in place, it is not unusual for them to last for more than three months.

Though the feathers have grown popular, FeatherLuxe shies away from the term “trend” almost entirely.

“It’s been growing, but it’s a thing that’s been around before we even knew,” Gutierrez said. “We just found a new way to put it in that holds up, you know? We’re just bringing it along and together.”

That, adds Gutierrez, would not be possible without the help of Mana Culture and storeowner Jahnavi Sievert. Mana Culture, a boutique that practices fair trade and cooperation with local artists for eco-friendly products, has helped FeatherLuxe expand into what it is today.

It may come as some surprise to customers that the feathers put in their hair are actual bird feathers. According to FeatherLuxe, this is just one more way to be closer to the natural world by honoring the birds the feathers came from.

“There’s just so much cruelty happening everywhere. The birds are being thrown around – every animal is being thrown around, not even cared for,” Gutierrez said. “We all think differently, but we’re all the same. We’re all relatives. We’re just trying to spread this goodness.”

Before the girls actually use any of the feathers, they bless them.

“I use Palo Santo,” Gutierrez said. “It’s this holy wood that burns and smells so beautiful. I have a tapestry and I just lay it on the floor, put my feathers there, say my intentions, blessing the birds.”

As far as other budding entrepreneurs who have noticed the success feather extensions have had, FeatherLuxe accepts the competition with open arms.

“We have a capitalistic nature,” Gutierrez said. “People are going to go with a good idea and run with it. We don’t care if there are other girls doing it. But I would just hope that their intentions are good.”

The benefits of the feather hair extensions, Gutierrez said, are much more than looking good.

“Girls are always glistening when they leave,” she said. “It’s so amazing. People are just leaving and they’re just…they’re ecstatic.”

But the most important thing to the young women at FeatherLuxe is giving back to the world around them.

“It’s just walking with this great feeling of being one with the universe,” Gutierrez said. “It’s not about the money, about anything. It’s just about whoever wants to come and join our tribe.”