Celebrity hairstylist Andre Walker is a country boy at heart. In Chicago, where he lives, Walker is Oprah Winfrey’s personal hairdresser and
This story first appeared in the October 7, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
the entrepreneur behind the three-year-old line Andre Walker Hair. But 90 minutes north, just outside of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, he’s an avid farmer at his weekend property. Purchased in 1998, Walker’s white Victorian home lies on a 60- acre working farm. It produces corn and soybeans, and includes a large chicken coop and a small fruit and vegetable garden. Walker’s main focus is the chicken coop and the garden, which boasts chilies, tomatoes, squash, apples, pears, peaches, cherries, figs and herbs.
“If I didn’t come here and rejuvenate, I would really feel unbalanced,” says Walker. “When I’m here, I’m busy from the time I wake up until I go to bed, but it’s not hard because I enjoy doing it.”
While Walker and his partner, David Simmons, leave the heavy agricultural work to a local farmer, their responsibilities include cleaning the chicken coop, collecting the eggs (“they have 10 times the flavor of a store-bought egg,” says Walker), making sure the compost bins are operating and cultivating the gardens.
For Walker, farm life serves as inspiration for product creation. His newest range, The Gold System, provides intense moisturization for kinky hair and includes sage as a primary ingredient. “Sage is one ingredient that I grow that I also wanted to have in some of my products,” says Walker. “Since I had ingredients like mongongo oil in the products to moisturize the hair, it was important to add something in for the scalp. It improves blood flow and circulation and gently cleanses.”
In farming, as in hairdressing, Walker has learned from experience, made a ton of mistakes and worked out the kinks along the way. When asked what it takes to become the best at either occupation, Walker is quick to answer: “Someone who is conscientious, has integrity and knows what’s going in their land or in their client’s hair.”
Walker shares a love of farming with his most famous client, who he says visits the farm when her schedule allows. Although now, Walker says it’s hard to get her to do much these days with her packed agenda. “She loves nature as well,” says Walker. “She even has a farm herself. I think she’s going to start selling vegetables and make it a real working organic produce farm.” Regardless whether Winfrey is readying another facet of her empire, Walker, for one, is clearly content with his favorite thing.