Our ongoing Q&A series features the professional Leonor Greyl superfans who share our passion for healthy, luxurious-looking hair. We talk about their careers, celebrity encounters, styling secrets, and more.
As a young teenager in Belgium, Cédric Fuat Celik experienced the feel-good power of a stellar salon haircut for the first time. Just 10 years later, he was one of the most sought-after stylists at Frédéric Fekkai in New York. We talked with Cédric about the lucky breaks in his career (it’s all in the handwriting!), how his newest salon at New York’s iconic Palace Hotel opened mid pandemic, and why L’Huile de Leonor Greyl is the product everyone needs.
Leonor Greyl: Hi! What can we call you, Cédric or Fuat?
Cédric: Cédric – it’s been my artist name since I was an apprentice in Brussels. Everyone was called by their last name at the salon, and my boss kept getting requests for appointments with Cédric – clients were confused by my Turkish surname, Celik. It stuck, and I liked it.
LG: Did you always want to be a stylist?
Cédric: I wasn’t into hair. I wanted to be an architect or engineer. But when I was about 13, instead of the usual cut at home by someone who didn’t know what they were doing, I got my very first salon haircut! It looked amazing and I felt amazing and I thought – wow, I love this feeling and want to do the same for other people.
LG: Do you still feel that way when you work?
Cédric: Doing hair is about connection with people. There are some who paint because they like to paint. And then people who paint because they like how other people will feel seeing their painting. Too often, stylists don’t pay attention to what a client wants – they’re thinking about what will make a good picture. What I love about this job is making people feel confident and amazing. It feels good to do that every day.
LG: We hear there’s a story behind the start of your career at legendary salon Jacques Dessange. Tell us more…
Cédric: When I was 16, I used to walk past the salon in the center of Brussels. One day my cousin made me go in and ask if they needed anyone. They didn’t, but I filled out an application anyway and they hired me. Years later my boss told me it was because a client had seen my handwriting and said, “Take him on, he’s going to be good.” It was luck – she could have said no!
LG: That was an impressive start. What made you leave Europe for the US?
Cédric: Brussels wasn’t the center of fashion. I was hungry, I wanted to travel to Paris or New York. I happened to see an ad for Frédéric Fekkai and that was it – they sent me off to the new LA salon.
LG: You jumped in at the deep end! How did you enjoy LA?
Cédric: I was 22, it was an adventure. I arrived knowing no one, with just my savings, trying to make it. And my English was really bad. I started working, watched a lot of TV and learned fast. But it felt too far from Belgium, so I transferred to New York in March 2001. Twenty years later I’m still here!
LG: And your A-list clients? Who have you worked with?
Cédric: I’ve worked with Marc Anthony, Mick Jagger, Bob Iger, Chelsea Clinton, Penelope Cruz… I worked in movies, at a lot of fashion shows like Valentino and Chanel. It’s fun but it doesn’t bring me the most joy because photoshoots aren’t about people’s feelings. I like working in a salon, helping someone feel good about themselves.
LG: What was your path to running your own salon?
Cédric: I always knew I wanted my own salon. In 2009 I left Frédéric Fekkai, and started to learn about management and personal growth. I finally opened a small salon in Bryant Park in 2012. I was supposed to open my new salon Cédric at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel in April 2020 when COVID hit…
LG: How did you handle it? That timing must have been very hard…
Cédric: We postponed the opening until July 2020. The first year was very, very difficult – there were no hotel guests, no travelers, no tourism, Midtown was empty. But we stayed open and got busier and busier. Plus, I have two kids who are six and three. I was stressed, but my family and our health are my priority, and I had both. I was lucky to be with them during the 3 months shutdown. I wanted to be an architect and became a Lego master! Thanks to my son.
LG: What’s your hair trend prediction for 2022?
Cédric: After months of not cutting their hair or cutting it themselves, people are more willing to try new things. But they’re also enjoying the freedom of longer hair – I love short hair, but it never sticks here like it does in Europe. This year will be somewhere between a lob and longer hair. And this is New York, so always very chic, elegant and clean.
LG: How did you discover Leonor Greyl products?
Cédric: They were first recommended to me by friend and salon owner Alexandre Chouery. Then a stylist told me that Masque Quintessence is the best treatment he’s ever used. I’ve worked with a lot of brands over the years, but the people behind it are always very important too, and at Leonor Greyl they are super nice and professional.
LG: Which products are your favorites?
Cédric: L’Huile de Leonor Greyl is amazing – the way it absorbs and feels on the hair. Huile Apaisante works like magic on clients with irritated scalps and my favorite shampoo is the Shampooing Crème Moelle de Bambou.
LG: Any plans for more salons?
Cédric: You never know what’s in the future!
LG: Thanks so much for catching up with us Cédric!
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.