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TikTok hair icon Brad Mondo is plotting his world domination

TikTok celebrity hairstylist and Franklin native Brad MondoRegina Urazaeva

Hairstylist Brad Gesimondo — who goes by the abridged moniker Brad Mondo — is the Internet’s spirit guide to spontaneous hair makeovers. Mondo started his online journey at age 12, posting videos about hair styling. The now New York-based hairstylist was born and raised in Franklin, spending years in his father’s hair salon learning the tricks of the trade. Today, he’s best known for his “Hairdresser Reacts” series — candid videos of Mondo watching intense (and sometimes awesome) at-home hair makeovers, accompanied by his live reaction and commentary — while bringing his more than 7.3 million YouTube subscribers and 8.7 million TikTok followers along on the journey. (A 2018 YouTube video featuring Mondo’s reaction to JoJo Siwa’s hair mishaps currently has 22.1 million views alone. Another video titled “Hairdressers Guide to Coloring Your Own Hair and Not Ruining It” has 11 million.)

@bradmondonyc

#duet with @yourgrandmaabuela Hairdresser Reacts: I aspire to be like this at her age #xmondo #hairdresserreacts

♬ Thot Shit - Megan Thee Stallion

Mondo also took his following off-line in 2019 with the launch of XMONDO, a line of styling and coloring products with a mission of challenging non-inclusive facets of hair industry norms. Mondo discusses online fame, growing up in the Bay State, and why DIY hair is here to stay.

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Did your New England upbringing shape your career?

My New England upbringing was cute. I think it was nice growing up in a smaller town. I got to experience small-town life, which kind of made me really want to branch out and be around more culture and different people. I liked that I was able to get that experience before I moved to [New York].

Did anyone from your hometown community inspire you to become who you are today?

My dad was one of my biggest supporters, and he’s also a hairstylist. He had a salon in Wellesley — now located in Natick called Jesamondo — and he definitely shaped my career. I got to work at salons and learn from him. My dad taught me how to do hair color and how to use a flat iron and curl hair. And a lot of the women at that salon also shaped who I am today. They really got me into the art of creating an art piece through hair color.

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Hairstyling is a form of art; how do you see your self-expression and identity mirrored in your craft?

I am definitely more of an edgy type of person. So I always like to create looks that are cool and punky. In the beginning of my career, that was very influenced by where I was living as well. You didn’t really see a lot of people walking around with super punky haircuts in New England, and when I moved to New York, it adjusted my views and I liked that more grungy style.

Do you think you influenced the trend of people continuing to take their style choices into their own hands — even post-lockdown and after many of the restrictions that kept salons closed were lifted?

I think I definitely had some kind of influence. Some of my most popular videos are on how to cut your own hair and I think a lot of people follow those tutorials and try something new. It’s really cool that I get to somehow be a part of that experience, of somebody cutting all their hair off for the first time, or coloring it a bright color. I definitely feel like people have been taking more risks when it comes to hair. I think the stigma of coloring your hair has changed.

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How has becoming a personality on social media intersected with your hairstyling career?

Any hairstylist who isn’t on social media is doing themselves a disservice. It is so important. It’s been super vital for me to be known as somebody who kind of predicts the future of hair. That’s so powerful and the fact that I can influence somebody to take a leap of faith and do something new is really amazing. It has allowed me to touch so many people.

Tell me about the product line and what your mission is with the brand.

Our mission is to create innovative products that are inclusive to everybody. Growing up and working at my father’s salon, there were so many different product lines and you would always see the same kinds of models on the advertising, always a white woman with blonde hair. I didn’t see anybody like me being represented. I also didn’t see men in general being represented; it was always very gender specific. I wanted to create a product that didn’t feel gendered.

What is one thing you wish you could tell everyone about hairstyling?

You need to use product. Product can change your hair so much and that’s another reason I’m so passionate about it. Finding the right product for you is also an important thing — experimenting, seeing what your hair responds to well. I also think people over-style their hair. A lot of people have beautiful natural texture, and they just need the right products to show their natural texture.

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What are your goals for the year?

World domination. No, I really want to focus more on my social platforms this year. Diving into the world of TikTok more and creating more content for people. I’m really focused on innovation in this next year, as well as creating products like nobody’s ever seen before.

Eloisa de Farias is a freelance writer and can be reached at eloisadefarias1@gmail.com.