Photos Cameron Flaisch

How many of us are free to let our inner colors out for the rest of the world to see? Sadly, a professional setting and fear of long stares on the sidewalks keep many of our colors at bay.

But what if it wasn’t like that?

Meet Moe Foster Hicks, a hair stylist at Wiyanna’s Salon in Rome, Ga.

Hicks is known for creating crazy hairstyles and colors for herself and for her clients with the goal of helping her others think and be outside of the box.

“I really like when clients bring in inspiration pictures of celebrities or this and that,” says Hicks. “I always put my hand over the celebrity’s face, turn the picture around, and ask them if they still want the hair or if they want to be the celebrity. At the end of the day, you’re not going to be a celebrity, but you can have great hair.”

Hicks says the fear of creative hair is not as bad as it used to be, though. “It’s actually been quite the opposite in the last few years. For a while, people were hesitant. A lot of jobs are very conservative; they don’t want to see someone with rainbow hair because it’s not conservative. I have gotten strange looks my entire life for having crazy, funky hair colors. My mom was really cool and let me experiment with color, but it’s always been very strange to other people,” she recalls.

“When I started doing hair ten years ago, it still wasn’t as acceptable as it is today. In the past ten years, I have given clients – from five to 85 years old – crazy rainbow hair or other creative styles. It’s really, really cool that people are more open to expressing themselves that way,” Hicks says with a proud smile. “At the end of the day, it’s just hair and you can change it back. You can do whatever you want with it. It doesn’t define how you do a job, or who you are really. I love that creative hair is more acceptable now.”

“I’m just me, I’ve always been the kind of oddball person, so there’s a lot about me that is shown through my hairstyles.”

She is originally from Atlanta but moved to Rome five years ago. She has never had an issue expressing herself. “I’ve always been really introverted and extroverted at the same time. I know that is strange, so let me explain. It started when I met my best friend Crystal. We were in the fifth grade and she taught me to deal with everything with humor, but not in a burying it kind of way. So, I learned to mask some of my innermost thoughts and feeling with laughter and never being afraid to express myself. From then on out, I lived that way,” says Hicks.

“I love creepy, Halloween-type stuff—I think it’s called ‘Goth.’ I’ve always been a not-your-normal, conservative person. And that’s been ever since I could decide who I wanted to be. I’m always outgoing and out there, and I want to see people smiling. So, I was always the class clown and social butterfly. I have so many different types of friends, I just float everywhere,” says Hicks, going deeper why she is comfortable exercising her own freedom of expression.

“I’ve always been very artistic, as well,” she continues. “It started with painting when I was little, and then music, which has always been a really big gateway for me. And I’m not a musician by any means; I just love music. The music inspires a lot of my. I’m just me.

 “People see now that they don’t have to hide who they are behind social media. Social media is so present in everyday life now, and in everything. Most people are not putting out 100 percent of their truths – meaning who they really are – out there,” says Hicks. “I like to show who I am on social media.”

Hicks has noticed more about people and their appearances, especially the menfolk.

“I like that men’s grooming is more popular. No offense to men, but there was a while there when nobody cared, really,” she explains. “Now, men are getting faded, getting their beards outlined, and I love it.

“Truth is, people want to feel better. I think when the recession happened, people were trying to look for something new to make them feel better because there’s this saying about the beauty industry and the liquor industry. They say that even when things are bad, money wise, people are going to make themselves look good and make themselves feel good. Women are going to pay to get their hair and nails done. They are going to make sure they feel good when other things aren’t all ‘good.’ I think that’s kind of what inspired this trend of style evaluation.”

The first time someone goes in for a creative Moe Hicks hair style is a special event.

She will normally sit with the client for a consultation before they make a really big change, just to get a view of what they are really going for. When it is all said and done, Hicks compares the change to a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

“Before I moved to Rome, I was a Cosmetology educator. I was teaching the young stylists how to grow and to be successful in the hair world,” she says. “When they start off, it is so funny. We used to take pictures of them on their first day of school and most are meek and shy. You have some who already have an ‘it’ factor, but most are nervous because they are just getting started on their new journey. We always made the joke, ‘by the end, you’ll be platinum blonde and about bald because all of the different things you’ve gone through.’ I’ve had students who have never colored their hair before. Then, they will walk in with crazy rainbow hair and the most layers you’ve ever seen on someone’s head, and it’s cool to watch their transformation,” Hicks explains.

“So, when a client comes in and asks for a dramatic style, I really want to make sure that they’re emotionally ready for what they’re about to do. I mean, even when I change my hair color it takes me a few days to get used to it. I’m not scared to do anything, and I mean I’m really not. But I still ask myself, do I really like this? In about two days I’m used to it. So, I’ll put myself in the chair with my clients.

“Before they leave, I always let them know to call me if they need anything, and that they are not going to hurt my feelings. This is their hair, I know it is done well, but it may not be what they actually wanted. It means the world to me to make a client happy; it is why I do what I do. It makes me feel powerful. I have a lot of confidence. Styling hair makes me feel really, really good,” she smiles.

Hicks relies on her personal feelings and experiences to help her put herself in her client’s shoes.“I don’t feel good if I walk out of the house and my hair is messed up. I’m just one of those people that are always dressed as if someone were going to take a picture of me. It is not an insecurity thing, I mean I walk out of the house without makeup all of the time, but I hate doing it because makeup is a part of my everyday routine, my ‘warrior paint’ as I call it. Feeling good is what gets me through the day,” says Hicks.

“A few years ago, I was going through some depression due to the death of my father, and I would have to wake up and do my hair and makeup and get out the door on time. It just makes you feel good, it makes you feel better. It’s like a comfort blanket.”

Moe loves to extend that same comfort blanket to her clients. “In the past ten years, I have not woken up and said I do not want to go to work. I wake up every single day excited for what I am going to do. I get joy from it, because I know I’m changing someone’s perception of themselves. I’ve had clients that I could tell had no inner self confidence. They have nothing inside of them that is driving them. I have done their hair before and see them look in that mirror and its transforming, you can see a light come on in them,” says Hicks.

 “I do have to put a little bit of me in everything, though,” she adds.  “Even if I’m doing ‘Susy Homemaker Highlights,’ and I hope that’s not an offensive term, Susy Homemaker, because I love all of my crazy creative looks. From Avant Garde to plain old highlights, because really, they’re not just plain old highlights. Everybody has their own custom hair color, it’s not just a cookie cutter formula. Every one is different. It doesn’t matter where they come from or what they do, hair is hair,” she says.

Moe and her hairstyles have been featured in a few magazines over the years. She was, and is still, appreciative of those opportunities. “I have been in a bunch of hair magazines: Modern Salon, cover for Metal Hammer (a UK-based rock magazine), etc. That was the coolest thing when I started out, and I said to myself, oh, you made it girl! you did it!

She continues, “I’ve done hair and makeup for the bands, I’ve worked a lot in movies and in a lot of music videos… just some really cool stuff,” says Hicks. “My favorite was working on “Iron Man 3.” Then about two years ago, my students got to do all of the perms for the “Stranger Things” cast, and I got to work with them on that. Think about it, they were still in school and doing this really cool thing for a TV show. I’ve really done a lot of stuff, but mainly I’ve been recognized for my creative hair colors and my Avant Garde work. I also love making crazy wigs. I’ve had famous drag queens to wear my wigs. I’ve been really blessed.”

If you’re wondering if any famous people have been to Rome to see her, Moe says, “no, not yet.”

“I’ve actually kind of quieted down since I moved to Northwest Georgia. Living up here is kind of new for me, and doing hair up here is really new for me, so really I didn’t know if Rome would be ready for my weirdness. But, it has been really great being back behind the chair, and I have to give my all to my clients, so I’m not really doing any movie stuff or things like that,” she says.

Moe, a married mom of two – a 13-year-old son and four-year-old daughter – had to make a move to see her family more. “The reason I moved to Rome and came to work for Wiyanna was to be closer to my family. I was driving to Atlanta every day, and that’s two hours of wear and tear not only my car, but my psyche. I wasn’t getting to see my kids or husband much. I’ve quieted down and I like it. I like being behind the chair and be a little more intimate, and building a clientele, and getting to know people in Rome.”

Her family are fans of her hairstyles. “They love it. My husband is a rock-and-roll guy and, although he looks very conservative, he has this crazy dude inside of him. He’s the lead singer of a band, and that’s where he gets his creativity out. My son has watched me go through hair school, all the way up till now, so he’s seen everything. He even has purple hair now. They just think I’m cool. My daughter is really honest. She’ll tell me if she likes and dislikes my hair color.”

Moe is definitely a color wheel lover. “I really love the color wheel; I’m such a nerd about it. I always have been, so I know how to play with it, how to neutralize and all that. That’s how I incorporate it into what I do with hair. I’ve always loved just playing with color,” she smiles. “You can’t change the color wheel and you can’t recreate it whatsoever, but you can do so much with it.

“There’s such a huge spectrum of different shades and tones everywhere. I just love creating and figuring out new colors. That’s what I get into at work, playing with the color wheel. It is never really painting one thing (as she is a watercolor painter), it’s going for color.”

Moe has always believed in herself. What she didn’t know was what her parents would think of her true ambitions. “I always knew whatever I did I would do it 180,000 percent more than the average person. I’ve always wanted to be known. And not known in a bad way obviously, but like ‘oh Moe, yea, she does that. She’s really great at that.’

“At first when I got out of high school, I wanted to be an Imagineer and work at Disney with animatronics, that was kind of like my first goal ever. I have always really wanted to do hair, but I was so scared my parents would say, ‘you can’t make any money doing that,’ so I built this block in my head of you need to go to college, you need to this or that. They never once said that,” Moe says with a laugh.

“I made this weird reality where they would be disappointed in me, so I went to college and did all that, and when I decided to do hair I said, ‘mom, I’m going to go to hair school’. She was like ‘okay.’ And I was like ‘what??’ She said that whatever I was going to do, I was going to be successful, because that’s just who she saw me as, and that’s what she instilled in me, that I was not going to fail. She was okay with whatever I chose to do, so here I am.”

Book your consultation with Moe Foster Hicks at Wiyanna’s Salon (4 East 3rd Avenue Rome, GA 30161).