Benders Collective

Our Mission

 

BENDERS’ mission is to create an environment for people to explore and express their individual styles and gender expressions by providing top-quality services in hair, makeup, education, and training while actively supporting art, expression, and queer communities alongside their allies in Long Beach and beyond.

 
 

Team

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Jessica Santiago

Owner/ Master Stylist

Jessie is no stranger to queerness. She was raised in Virginia, a spiritual, eccentric person of color with lesbian parents. Queerness was normal, safe, and loving as a child. But stepping into the "real world" as a young adult changed everything. She desperately wanted to fit in with her peers, experimenting with identity after identity without success. Without having found that place, she decided to create a world of her own: ~BENDERS'~

Jessie has been working in the beauty and wellness industry for over 16 years as a teacher and stylist alongside some of the industry's finest (Paul Mitchell, "THE SCHOOL," and The Aveda Institute, Los Angeles). She established a strong foundation and practice, specializing in cuts, color, and natural hair textures. Studying special effects makeup in 2008 opened Jessie’s eyes to the infinite possibilities of presentation. Her final project in this male-dominated industry involved performing a physical gender change using only household items and cosmetics. Jessie gained recognition as a strong player in the industry while falling in love with transformation and transition. She began incorporating her knowledge of hair, makeup, gender presentation, and queerness into everyday life and work. She noticed drastic differences in how people were treated based on their gender presentations.

Jessie has long been disappointed by salon cultures that encourage gender and body shaming. Her mission is to eliminate "superficiality" from the hair industry, one person at a time. She likens her work to shining up a rusty penny, bringing out and accentuating one’s natural beauty. Jessie LOVES teaching people how to recreate looks at home. She is determined to work in an environment that promotes beauty, authenticity, and REALNESS .

Find out more about Jessie here


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Cal Bigari

Owner/Apprentice

Cal's background in youth community engagement, and innovation education sets him apart as an amazing facilitator of community projects. His desire to understand people radiates throughout his whole being. As a sociology academic; systems, people and cultures deeply interest him. Currently, Cal is courageously shifting gears as he begins his journey as a hairstylist. He will be available for appointments on Tuesdays, beginning in February, 2019.

A more personal note:
For Cal, transitioning was like a second puberty.  He had no idea how to groom a beard or navigate a barber shop. Fortunately, he found an amazing family of trans brothers that taught him the art of being a self-made man, complete with DIY haircuts and living room testosterone injections. Years later, he moves on to meet Jessie, his love and his very own personal stylist. She has successfully taught him how to "fine tune" his look, helping him feel even more confident in his gender presentation. 

Cal's believes that Each one of us is on a journey of discovery and self expression, regardless of gender. None of us was born man or woman. Instead, we must each endure the process of becoming, growing and maturing into one’s identity."  

He believes we must take an active role in our own destinies; embracing the good, the bad, and the awkward of growing up. He is grateful to provide a space for all to play with their gender expressions and hopes all humans leave Benders' feeling FABULOUS.

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kris anderson

barber

For Kris, Cupid's arrow struck true and barbering was love at first sight. When you find your mission in life; the passion and dedication come naturally, but the skill has to be earned. Kris has spent a decade mastering the intricacies of a sharp, strong barber cut and the timeless art of hot shaves. She is a beard whisperer who can take your entire look and elevate it to gentlemen status. Kristina loves nothing more than changing someone's outlook on the way they view themselves in a matter of a few hours.

Kristina is a proud queer parent to her amazing son and mom to two fur babies. When she's not creating masterpieces behind the chair, she enjoys centering herself with meditation and yoga, having fun with gaming and Muay Thai, and cooking for family and friends. She's a voracious reader which is helpful as she works towards her Associates degree in Gender Studies and Psychology.

Kristina feels it is important to give back to the community and has worked with LGBTQ center youth and seniors to provide free services to those who needed them.

She is excited for this new chapter with Benders’ because this is the space where the intersection of all of her identities and interests is celebrated and encouraged instead of needing to be hidden. Kris cuts human hair without boundaries or restriction; come find out what she's all about.


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Natalie (Nata) Juge

Stylist

Natalie (Nata) Juge is back in her hometown after spending 9+ years in Seattle, and she couldn't be happier. Nata has an academic background in anti-oppressive, community studies (social work) from UC, Santa Cruz. After college, she landed a job in Seattle and quickly settled in. There, she found her queer community. She also found that folks were having a hard time getting haircuts that they were satisfied with, so she decided to give it a try. Surprisingly, she found herself having deep, interesting conversations about some of her favorite topics like: politics, astrology, revolution,emotions, food, pets, anything really! On top of having amazing chats, she also found that she was quite fearless with clippers and was giving dynamic and creative home haircuts. Her friends kept coming back for more so she figured she’d go to school and make a legit business for herself. After getting her license, Nata got a job with Seattle’s most popular & queer friendly hair salon and grew her skills even further. Natalie is committed to meeting each guest exactly where they are in life and in style. She prides herself in creating an open and expressive space and is so excited to join the Benders’ team and community.