Salon stylist uses hairdressing as a form of art

BROWNthumbWalking into the salon can be a bit of a surprise when six-foot-tall Ali Taleb, 26, approaches sporting a toque and a thick five o’clock shadow on his face. Covered in tattoos, obsessed with rock music and skateboarding, Taleb doesn’t exactly fit into the conventional persona of a hairdresser working at a chic salon.

Taleb has been a hairdresser for five years, launching his career after someone said he would never make it in the beauty world.

 When Taleb was called into an interview, the sales associate at the kiosk had nothing nice to say.

BROWN2Taleb stands in the back hallway behind the salon where he goes to escape from the world.

Photo by Dayla Brown

“He told me I looked offensive, everything about me threw him off, the way I talked, the way I dressed, and my tattoos ” Taleb explains. “He told me, ‘Nothing personal, but you will never make it in the beauty industry.’ I was thrown off at first and I was thinking, ‘How dare you tell me what I can and can not do.’”

Those words of discouragement became Taleb’s spark for enrolling in beauty school and becoming a successful hairdresser. When he told his father, “At first he was like, ‘Yeah yeah, sure sure.’ But I told him I was serious,” says Taleb.

His father received a message that a new hair school was opening on Stephen Avenue, and told Taleb that if he was serious, his father would pay for his education.

“My first test in hair school, I got 100 per cent,” tells Taleb, “I have never gotten a 100 per cent in anything I ever did. Right then and there, I knew this was for me.”

That was in 2010. Since then, Taleb has cut and styled in hair shows and competitions and taken classes in
California, New York, Toronto and Las Vegas. Taleb says he loves cutting hair because it’s an art.

“The world is turning into more of a sleek, clean cut kind of look. It’s not about being the guy in the suit, or the person doing the clean-cut bob,” says Taleb. “It can be messed up. It’s art. I want people to recognize, it is art. It is not supposed to be scripted.”

Prior to becoming a hairdresser, Taleb says he was a “bum kid” with no money to his name. He’s now proud homeowner and owns his own car.


Taleb has a dream of starting his own hair team of “underdogs” by talking to high school students about hairdressing.Taleb skateboards at Millennium Skate Park in downtown Calgary.

Photo by Dayla Brown

“A lot of kids want to be things like pro skaters, rocks stars. But in this world you have to be rich to do that,” he explains. “When I wanted to be a pro skater, what did I want from that? I wanted to be in magazines, I wanted to travel, I wanted to do photo shoots. I do all that with hair.”

His plan is to teach students that there’s more to hairstyling than meets the eye.

“I want to tell them that you don’t have to be a [stereotypical] hairstylist. You can be a rockstar.”

To contact the editor responsible for this story; 

Thumbnail photo by Dayla Brown

Report an Error or Typo

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *