Top of Mind
Good People: Teddi Cranford
By Crown Affair
Welcome to Good People, an interview series featuring those who inspire us and keep us forever excited for the future. This week's feature is extra special: we sat down for a conversation one afternoon with Teddi Cranford (our founder Dianna's hairstylist of more than a decade) at her home in Brooklyn. We were lucky enough to have her mom, Tracy, join us—while Teddi's daughter Juniper helped out with hair and makeup. Read on for the interview: the two share haircare stories, how they built a thriving business together, and what they've learned from each other along the way.
- When did you start doing hair?
Teddi: I went to hair school right out of high school, but I feel like I was already doing everybody’s hair in high school—we always had everybody over for the proms, right Mom?
Tracy: She took an interest in hair I would say in fifth or sixth grade.
Teddi: My aunt owned a hair salon in Portland. So I grew up going to the hair salon. My mom was getting her hair done every two weeks.
Tracy: All the colors, all the cuts.
Teddi: We were just always there. In hindsight I’m like, why were you getting your hair cut every two weeks? That is insane. She had very high maintenance hair in the nineties. It was like that activated bleach, perm, cut.
Tracy: Cut on the sides, super high, cut over to one side, cut at an angle. I did everything.
Teddi: Crown Affair would not have been her product choice in the nineties. [Laughs] So right out of high school, I was going to play basketball at a junior college, and I ended up tearing my ACL. I was like, what else am I good at? And I went straight to beauty school. I graduated when I was nineteen or twenty.
Tracy: She had a scholarship and everything to go play basketball. One day she just came home and said, ‘I’m not going to play basketball, I’m not going to that college, I’m gonna go to hair school.’ And I said, “Thank God.” [Laughs] She wouldn’t have done well in college.
Teddi: It would have been the worst thing I could have done for myself.
Tracy: I was happy she did what she did. It was perfect for her.
Teddi: Out of beauty school, I went to Los Angeles and did a training course at Vidal Sasoon. Then I thought I might want to go work on movies, so my first experience with that was The Office—I shadowed the hairstylist. This was eighteen years ago. And I realized I couldn’t do television, because it’s all about continuity. So I hightailed it to New York. I’d say that’s when I really started doing hair—I started working at Bumble and bumble.
Tracy: One thing Teddi did that I really admire her for is she really put the time and the work in. She assisted forever and was living on pennies. She did it, and she did it because she knew that’s what she had to do. It’s all hard work, it takes time and patience. I have to say as a mom I’m really proud of her for that.
Teddi: I’m thirty-seven, and I started White Rose seven years ago. I was assisting Guido [Palau] backstage doing Dolce and Gabbana, Valentino, all the couture shows, traveling, working with such talented people. And it was not a sustainable life at all. I left at twenty-nine and started an agency for hair and makeup for weddings and events. The whole idea behind the agency was to bridge the gap between artists like myself who worked in fashion and kind of make it accessible to brides. So that’s White Rose Collective. Then organically I started the salon. But I had no idea how to run a business. I just wanted to do beautiful hair.
Tracy: And I was a chef. When Teddi decided to open up the business I started doing all the behind-the-scenes stuff. Figuring out how to put a business together, doing all the bookings, laying all our programs out. Now I pretty much do the wedding business and book all the artists.
Teddi: White Rose would not be what it is today if it were not for her. I can’t even imagine. When she started at White Rose she was basically like, ‘...What are you guys doing…’ And we were like, ‘We need your help.’ [Laughs] She came in and dedicated so much time just to get things done.
Tracy: I was doing well as a chef but was ready for a change. So I came to New York and did both for a while. And then White Rose got really busy.
Teddi: Our business was very organic. And not really premeditated.
Tracy: We’ve never done any advertising or anything like that. It’s all just evolved through word of mouth.
- How would you describe your philosophy around hair?
Teddi: I have this to-each-their-own mentality when it comes to hair. I definitely am all about individuality and someone’s lifestyle. It’s a very natural, organic approach to hair—I cut hair dry, so I’m very visual. When someone asks me now what the trends are, I rarely even have an answer for it. I think it’s more about working with your head and having your hair be in line with your lifestyle.
Tracy: Just being the best version of yourself. It’s not this polished, perfect thing.
Teddi: The conversation in my chair has shifted so much now. I’m talking about hair loss, and grays, and how to feel like yourself when your hair color is changing, your texture is changing. In the salon world typically someone comes in with gray hair it’s like ‘ok, I’m going to slap on a single process every six weeks, boom.’ But are you really looking at this person? At their lifestyle and who they are? I like to kind of challenge my client, let them know I’m here for the most natural approach.
Tracy: I recently wanted to embrace my gray. So I started growing it out and it ended up being two and a half years before I did anything to it again.
Teddi: Work with what you have. Keep it simple. Less stuff for sure. That’s a huge thing. I have clients that come in with a lot of buildup and they don’t even realize they have it. And that’s what I love about Crown Affair, is it’s a very digestible, simple approach to haircare. Typically all people need is a really good shampoo and conditioner, maybe a hair oil or a powder. There’s really not much more that I personally need. And 95% of the time I’m not using products on my clients.
Tracy: I do think there is a lot to be said about less is more in what we do, in that it isn’t about being a moneymaker, but what’s best for the client. The less they have to come in the better. That’s a big part of what we do for sure.
Teddi: The reason I cut dry is, again, to really work with someone’s natural texture and not to put somebody into a box. When I was cutting hair wet at the salon, everybody was getting the same version of the same haircut. So [dry cutting] is definitely a big part of my approach and it’s partly why we’ve had this organic growth. People are talking about it, like ‘I’ve never been able to wear my hair natural before.’
Tracy: What I love about a dry cut is that I have kinks and cowlicks, and it’s the only way to really work around that. When it’s cut while it’s dry and falling the way it should, it looks fantastic because you’ve embraced your cowlicks.
- Around the house growing up, were there tools or keepsakes you used for your hair?
Teddi: I remember the orange brush you had that ripped through my hair.
Tracy: I did, I had an orange brush for years. Super hard plastic bristles, super stiff.
Teddi: It was the worst brush in the world.
Tracy: I had it forever.
Teddi: I’m sad you actually got rid of it because it was so iconically painful.
Tracy: I would wash and dry my hair every single day and use that orange brush. And a hot curling iron on top of that. And tons of hairspray. The strongest possible stuff.
Teddi: Remember the story when you were suntanning? [Laughs]
Tracy: I was going to go on a date. And I had a pool at home. All throughout the summer from swimming in the pool I’d get these natural highlights in my hair that were really pretty. I wanted to speed up that process, so I took the shock chlorine from our pool, and I made a paste of it and painted it on my hair. I lay on the deck with tin foil and my hair laid out with shock painted on it. I started to feel myself burning, so I got up from the deck… and my hair stuck to the deck. It just came off in chunks wherever I had painted it. I was all sunburnt too. Needless to say I did not go on a date that night. [Laughs] People are definitely more educated today about the health of your hair, the health of your body. In the ‘80s it just wasn’t like that. I went through extremes for sure. The regimes we’d had to go through were insane. You can still do that, but you can basically use two or three products now and you’re done.
- What are your haircare staples?
Teddi: I love the Crown Affair Leave-In Conditioner. I feel like it just disappears into your hair. When I want to wear my hair natural I’ll use that, because it keeps things a bit softer. I keep things simple—I love Christophe Robin and Rahua shampoos and conditioners, and I use the Oribe Gold Lust oil.
Tracy: I just use whatever’s leftover. I like to use something that’s really conditioning. I sometimes will use the Olaplex treatment. But I kind of use just whatever Teddi brings over.
Teddi: She has more products than anyone. [Laughs]
- Do you have rituals you follow?
Teddi: I do a hair mask once a week. I definitely make coffee every morning, which I need to shift at some point. And I’m really good with my skincare—I exfoliate, wash, tone, that whole thing every night before bed, every morning.
I’m usually really good about working out but I’ve been really out of my routine. I usually will do SoulCycle, but I can feel that shifting as I get older, I’m not fulfilled by doing it. So I’ve been poking around at Pilates, yoga. I’m trying to switch my headspace around working out. I’d like to get into yoga, I’ve done it a few times and I do feel better. So I’m re-working the workout routine. Things change as you get older—I turned 37 in January and I’d say the backend of 36, getting into 37, my hair’s changed, my body’s changed, diet… the things that used to work for me are not working for me anymore. So talking about any sort of routine, I’m actually trying to navigate these new shifts and what works for me now.
- How are you approaching that?
Teddi: Trying new things. Even though I’m good with my skincare routine, I’m certainly trying new products—thinking more about longevity. With my hair I used to not be mindful of taking care of it, but my texture has changed, my grays are coming in. Anything that gives you that quick fix is not forever, so I’m just trying out new things and new ways to approach beauty, the way I’m working out. I’m genuinely in a full shift—in a good way.
- That seems true for a lot of people coming out of the pandemic.
Teddi: I think the things that worked for people before COVID aren’t necessarily working now. How you approach your dating life, your social circle. A lot has changed for sure.
- What about you, Tracy?
I walk a lot. And I love my Chi machine and my massagers—my house is full of every kind of neck and shoulder massager you can imagine.
Teddi: You’re really good with your tea.
Tracy: Yeah I do love tea. I don’t drink as much coffee anymore—I love the idea of coffee in the morning but every time I pour a cup I end up having tea anyway. I like the beauty of tea. I have a glass teapot and I can see the tea blooming, the whole thing. I also really like my crystals and stuff around me, incense going once in a while. Smells.
Teddi: Her house is like a zen den. You garden, too, you’re crazy with gardening.
Tracy: I do a lot of gardening. Very into flowers. And I like to cook… on my own terms. And I’ve really been forcing myself to just take breaks. Listen to music, things like that. I’ll stop and smell the roses.
Teddi: One thing I have been doing is going to BATHOUSE. They have a restaurant and the food is great, but I go there once a week for spa and sauna. And I get a Chinatown massage at least once a week too. I have to do that to kind of re-center myself.
Tracy: For me too, I have this stuff called mustard bath that’s ayurvedic. I do a mustard bath at least twice a week—it has mustard seed, salts, all kinds of things in it. I don’t know what it is but I love that stuff. The other thing I’ve been really good with forever is not having chemicals go into my body with food. I don’t do diet, I like clean food.
- Are there things you’ve learned from each other, taught each other?
Teddi: I mean yeah, god, I’ve learned so much from you.
Tracy: I’ve learned a lot from you too.
Teddi: My mom’s whole thing growing up was instilling confidence in my brother and I. I feel like that was your number one thing. And you were always, and are, so confident and strong. Our door to our house growing up was a revolving door of people.
Tracy: Everybody was always welcome at our house. At any time, for anything. We definitely had an open door policy, and still do.
Teddi: Definitely confidence, how to be a strong woman. You certainly did not need a man to do the things you did. She would roll up in a Harley at summer camp blasting Metallica. Looking back I’m like, ‘oh my god.’ [Laughs] So confidence, aesthetics for sure—you always had great art in the house, it was always super clean, and dinner was always…
Tracy: A party, I’d say.
Teddi: The way she sets the table is like six plates and a fork for everything, candelabras. She’s super creative too, so that was always around us growing up.
Tracy: My thing was to introduce them to as many things as I possibly could and then they could decide what they liked. The other big thing was that I wanted them to go out and see the world.
And from Teddi, I’ve learned the true meaning of womanhood. I think she’s a beautiful woman who is giving, thoughtful, fair. I like the way I see her living her life. I think she’s smart—she doesn’t just talk to say it, she says it to mean it. I think that’s important. I respect Teddi immensely. I respect the way she is with the people who work for her. I love how giving she is—to a fault, but she’s learning from that. That’s the biggest thing actually, is that she’s never so set in her ways that she’s not continually learning. She learns form her mistakes and is willing to transform.
Teddi: Thanks, mom.
Photographed in Brooklyn by David Cortes.