Peggy Ioakim

Occupation:  Hair artist, Karma by Erwin Gomez

Education:   Springbrook HS, Edison HS of Technology (Cosmetology Program), Montgomery College


 Your list of clients includes Claire Danes, Jennifer Garner, Rosario Dawson, Ellen Page, Paris Hilton, and America Ferrera, among others.  Is there more pressure working with celebrities?

Not really.  They've all been phenomenal to work with and less picky than some of my regular clients! I try to be relatable and warm to everyone, and the celebrities I’ve worked with have all treated me with respect and like an old friend from high school. 


 Do you have any experiences that are particularly memorable?

There are so many but two, in particular, have been very special.  I met Gabby Giffords when she was recovering from being shot and have watched her incredible transformation. She’s truly an inspiration and is not only my client but also a friend. The second highlight in my career was when I was asked to be the stylist for Michelle Obama’s sister-in-law, Kelly Robinson, during the first inauguration. I was called to the White House and worked in the Lincoln bedroom! I met the First Lady, chatted with her brother Craig, and watched Malia and Sasha jump on the bed. They were all just so humbled to be in the White House, and it was a thrill for me to be there for such an historic occasion. 


 You give a lot of credit for your success to the Edison High School of Technology. Why?

I found out about the Cosmetology program as a 9th grader at Springbrook and immediately knew it's where I needed to be. There was definitely some stigma attached to going to Edison, but I blossomed there and felt part of a team. I learned how to be a professional in the workplace, gained skills in biology and anatomy, and obtained the 1,500 hours required before taking the test for a Maryland license.  And it was all free!  Edison completed me and opened me up to opportunities I could never have imagined.


 One of those opportunities was starting your own business at 21.  How did that happen?

I had my license right out of high school, so I had been working in salons while earning an associate’s degree at Montgomery College. When an opportunity came up for me to open a salon, I jumped at the chance.  My sister and I were partners and ran it successfully for 10 years until someone made an offer to buy it from us. It was a difficult decision but I needed more balance to my life and it’s worked out for the best in the long run. 


 You’re in a very competitive industry. Why do you think you’ve been so successful?

My parents emigrated from Greece and worked very hard to build a comfortable life here for my sisters and me. They’ve been my biggest supporters and have instilled in me important values that have helped to shape who I am. I took a chance by going to Edison and I’ve continued to take risks throughout my career.    That philosophy – go for it, give it your all, and stay positive – has helped me through the ups and downs of 28 years in this profession. Edison literally changed my future and I went from being the girl who cut my friends’ hair in my bedroom to living my dream of being a stylist to the stars.


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