All Articles Tagged "hair salon"
Though the black community would have you believe every woman who relaxes her hair hates herself, I think I speak for a lot of us permed ladies out here when I say the choice to slap on the “creamy crack” every so often is more about convenience than contempt of self. That being said, for as many things there are about perming one’s hair that make it easier to maintain, there are still a few inconveniences (read: problems) that come along with opting for this styling choice. Let’s talk about them, shall we?
“Before we got together, we were doing all this research. There was a great supplier that we both stumbled across, “ said Kori Davis, brand manager of extensions line Hair Crush.
Already co-owner of Blush boutique along with Kora Mylum, Davis thought it would be a good idea to link up with hair stylists and owners of Glamour Gyrl’z hair salon. Sisters Jai and Janice Chambers operate the shop with their mother Jackie Bradfield not too far from Blush boutique on 9 Mile road in Detroit.
Unknowingly, the two groups of entrepreneurs began investigating gaining separate access to hair extensions before learning they were all seeking to extend services in their individual businesses. After finding a promising hair manufacturer in India they joined forces.
“We figured we might as well come together because the more we buy, the bigger supply we’ll be able to put out for the demand of hair,” said Davis.
The Benefits of Forming a Partnership
Testing out the supplier by wearing the hair around town, the founders discovered friends and customers were interested in where the hair came from. When they researched and pinpointed a manufacturer in 2010, the founders sold their extensions without a staple brand. It was then they decided to move forward with making the business official.
“We did have to test a lot of hair and go through a couple of manufacturers. We wore the hair to test the shedding and we are satisfied with our product,” said Janice Chambers, creative director of Hair Crush. Her sister Jai is vice president of the company while Jackie serves as president.
In one of their very first meetings, Chambers remembers the founders sitting at a table tossing around potential names for the soon-to-be hair line.
“We were thinking about all things hair and the fact that everyone fell in love with the hair. One of us was drinking a soda — a Crush — and we were bouncing names off of each other. Kora was like, ‘Everyone loves the hair, why not Hair Crush?’ and we just went from there,” Chambers said. “We were so happy with the product, we wanted to share it with everyone else.”
A few years ago, I was at a local hair school and flat out told the receptionist (loud enough for everyone to hear) that I would wait all day if it meant waiting on a black girl to do my hair. It was not my proudest moment, but I admit I have a serious complex when it comes to letting women who are not black style my hair.
I’ve been that way ever since “the hair incident”. It happened when I was seven years old. I had a thick mane that reached the middle of my back. My mom would braid my hair, put it in ponytails and press it with a hot comb, but her hard work rarely lasted past recess as I had dreams back then of being the first girl in the NFL and used touch football games with the boys on the playground to practice. I was a roughhouser, but I wanted my hair straight. Looking for an easier way to manage my hair, my mom let her white friend Christina – who was a licensed cosmetologist and had been doing my hair for the past year and a half – put in a relaxer.
I remember sitting under the dryer that fateful day and I reached up to feel the top of my hair. It was rock hard as though she had smoothed a thick layer of ProStyles black hair gel from my roots to my ends. I tipped the hooded dryer up and whispered to my mom, “My hair feels hard.” Overhearing, Christina replied, “It shouldn’t feel hard.”
I don’t remember much else after that, but my mom says, later she was combing my hair and immediately noticed it was falling out in chunks. In addition, I was completely bald around the edges. My mom says my hair felt hard and jagged and she had never seen anything like it. She asked her friend what happened and Christina said she “got a hold of a bad perm”. She hypothesized that maybe the “Super” was in the “Regular” container. All I know is, I haven’t seen Christina since.
Not wanting to go completely bald at any point, a new (black) hairstylist helped me transition. She eventually cut off the scraggly, damaged, ends when my new growth finally reached my shoulders about a year later. By the time I was in 5th grade, the remnants of the relaxer that destroyed my hair were gone, but the memory of the white woman who did it was not and I swore my allegiance to black hairstylists from then on.
Lately though I’ve been wondering if this stance has any merit. There are scores of black women who will tell you about the time a relaxer damaged their hair — and that relaxer was applied by a black woman. In my case, I assume my stylist didn’t have any experience applying chemicals to black hair, (how else would she have accidentally applied a Super?) but does that mean all white women don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to black hair?
One day, probably fifteen years after the hair incident, I let a white girl wash and flat iron my hair. My roots weren’t completely dry when she flat ironed my hair, so, of course, about 30 minutes after leaving the salon it was like I never went.
I had the same experience with a girl whose nationality I cannot pinpoint. Then, I had a great experience with a white beautician in a Walmart salon. I initially refused to let her do my hair, but she told me a license is a license and promised that she could straighten anyone’s hair. Reluctant but desperate, I let her give it a try. She washed; deep conditioned, blow-dried and flat-ironed my hair in 60 minutes flat. I was impressed, but I am still not totally convinced.
My instant reflex is to firmly decline when a white girl (or someone who isn’t black) offers to do my hair. I know that it was only one serious incident and others have had poor results from black cosmetologists as well, but I just cannot sit comfortably when the person doing my hair isn’t a black female. Is this a form of discrimination or just common sense? All black hair isn’t created equal and I know that just because a person is black doesn’t mean she knows what she is doing with my hair in particular; but I am about one thousand times more willing to try my luck with a black hairstylist than a non-black hairstylist. If it helps, I don’t let men do my hair either.
What do you think? Do you let people of other nationalities do your hair?
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I try to be loyal to one hair salon. I really do. But that loyalty is sometimes usurped by my need to save money or save time. As a result, sometimes I just have to get my hair done somewhere. Anywhere.
Have you ever been in that situation before? You agreed to a date in a few hours, but your stylist doesn’t take walk-ins? Or you’re over your budget for the month, so you only have a few dollars to spare to get your hair straightened? Or you can’t imagine leaving the office before six and really need a stylist who will fit you in at 7pm?
I’ve been in these situations and more, so though I have my stylist that is my go-to-girl, I also have a few seemingly unorthodox places I hit in cases of emergency.
The first place I tell anyone to go when they need their hair washed and straightened, at the last minute, in a timely fashion? Walmart. I know it sounds crazy, but the Smart Styles salons located in Walmart are clutch. The Walmart near my house is staffed by mostly white women and I only allow black women to do my hair, but one day I was in a pinch. I had just taken out my sew-in and my hair was inexcusable. I couldn’t find a comb to fit my blow-dryer so I stopped by the Walmart hoping the black stylist was working that day. No such luck, but a white hairstylist convinced me she could do my hair. She washed, deep conditioned, dried and got my half-natural/half-relaxed hair bone straight in 60 minutes flat. The cost? Twenty-four dollars.
The second place I recommend is the hair salon in a local mall. Most malls have them and if you go to a mall in a black area, it’s likely the salon is staffed with black stylists. This is the case in my city. I don’t go to this particular mall very often because it’s not in a great part of town, but the hair salon inside is excellent. They take walk-ins and they’re open when the mall is open — seven days a week. Their prices are affordable and consistent (none of that arbitrary charging for length). Granted, some malls don’t have salons, but an attached department store might, such as JCPenney.
Another new option that has been popping up in cities everywhere is Salon Lofts – individual suites where professional hair stylists, massage therapists, skin care & nail specialists run their own unique beauty salons. I’ve only been to one once when my stylist was transitioning to a new salon, but basically you’re free to come in the Lofts and walk around until you find the stylist you’re looking for. When I was looking for my stylist, several other beauticians offered to do my hair. The prices are all over the place depending on who the stylist is, but there is a big variety and many of the stylists have been doing hair for years.
Finally, when you’re short on cash and just want someone to straighten your hair so you don’t have to, I recommend a local hair school. I normally ask for someone who is about to graduate and I’ve never had a bad experience. Because it’s a school, the students are heavily supervised by the teachers and they make sure you’re satisfied with the service. They don’t offer hair services every day, so I recommend calling or looking online before going. Some people balk at the thought of letting a student do their hair, but it beats letting someone’s unlicensed cousin KeKe do you hair in her kitchen without a mirror in sight as she argues on the phone with her boyfriend and her pets or children run through your legs.
These are just a few of the options I’ve explored when needing my hair styled at the last minute. I only let my regular beautician trim my hair or apply chemicals (when I was still getting relaxers), but I’ve definitely had a good experience when just needing to get my hair “salon straight” or curled in a hurry.
One of these days, I’ll learn how to get the same results at home.
Where are some places you’ve gotten your hair done at the last minute? Are you loyal to one beautician/salon or do you go to wherever/whoever is open?
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Girl talk is half the reason black women love to hit up the beauty shop on a regular, but long before women just showed up every week for a wash and set and a side of gossip, hair salons were the birthplace of political activism.
NPR recently talked about the civil rights element of black salons with Tiffany Gill, associate professor of history, African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Gill is the author of “Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women’s Activism in the Beauty Industry,” and in her book she talks about how black women came to the forefront of the beauty industry around the 1820s when it became unacceptable for black men to style white women’s hair and how enslaved women in Urban areas were even able to hire themselves out as stylists and make money.
Stemming from the entrepreneurial example set by Madame CJ Walker at the beginning of the 20th century, Gill said by the time the 1950s and 1960s rolled around, guidelines were written into beauty college curricula about how to engage clients in conversations about politics. She went on to talk about a South Carolina woman named Bernice Robinson who’s salon was known as a place for “all kinds of subversive activity.”
“She would literally be washing someone’s hair, put someone under the drier, be walking someone through the long kind of elaborate voter registration hurdles that black people had to go through and while someone was under the drier she would go and run someone down to the courthouse, try to get them to register to vote, and then come back,” she said.
“And then she actually took it to a more formal level where she would actually organize other beauticians in the area and tell them that, yes, within your space, as women come in, we can do citizenship education classes. We can help prepare people to vote. We can help prepare African-Americans to engage in civic activity and so they balanced their entrepreneurship with their politics.”
Gill said when she started her research she expected to see a decline in political activism inside shops today but she found that the conversation isn’t all weaves and kinky twists in the new millenium.
“I found in San Diego, there’s this very robust research as well as community activism happening, where beauty shops are being engaged in health activism. So everything from empowering beauticians to talk with their clients about HIV/AIDS, about mammograms – because they found that that was a space where African-American were willing to take care of their bodies, willing to talk about their bodies.
So it’s still there. It functions differently, but certainly the health activism, as well as domestic violence prevention, is something that’s happening very much in beauty shops today.”
In 2010, The L’Oréal Fondation D’Enterprise founded Hairdressers Against AIDS to provide in-depth training to thousands of salon professionals at special L’Oréal educational sessions, and this year they held their annual event in Harlem to address the high rate of new HIV diagnoses among African Americans in New York City. Several other black shops held independent events at their salons in recognition of Aids Awareness Month as well.
Were you aware of the history of social activism spurred in black beauty shops? Do you witness this type of activity in the salons you visit?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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By Marissa Charles
You know the classic movie scene where a suicidal person stands on the edge of a building and threatens to jump off? I was that poor sod about six weeks ago.
No, I wasn’t threatening to take my life. I was this close to grabbing a pair of scissors and chopping all my hair off.
Fortunately my hairdresser Richard talked me down from the ledge. “Step away from the scissors, Marissa,” he said to me over the phone. That Saturday morning I awoke with my hair in a knotted, mess of tangles. Matted in some parts, my tresses had clumped into four sections with thick roots and stringy relaxed ends forming peaks on the top. It was a natural disaster.
God must have been with me that day because the whole scenario was enough to give a girl a heart attack. Two-and-a-half months earlier I had taken my first step on the road towards natural hair. I’ve been toying with the idea for a while but I didn’t have the guts to do it. I’ve had relaxed hair since I was 11 and didn’t have a clue how to care for it in its natural state.
So I did my research. I went online and trawled through blogs and videos about embracing your curls and kinks. I entered a world with its own special language of acronyms and abbreviations.
I decided my moon face was too full to go for the BC, the “Big Chop.” (I cannot rock a baldhead or a TWA, a “Teeny Weenie Afro.) Transitioning – gradually growing my natural hair out – seemed to be the better option and wearing extensions seemed the logical way to prevent unnecessary breakage.
I hate wearing braids but if I’m going to do something then I’m going to do it right. That’s why I was pleased when I found what I thought was a reputable braiding salon in Los Angeles where I live.
The establishment shall remain nameless but its website was impressive, as were the five-star testimonials on Yelp.com. The gallery of photos on their page looked good and when I went to see the stylist she assured me she could deliver what I asked for – individual braids that wouldn’t pull my roots or break my hair. She promised me they wouldn’t be heavy and I could keep them in for up to three months.
After struggling with my hair from trying to detangle it after washes, trying to keep it from being dry and brittle as a cactus and from falling out my head like some Nair got to it (aka, Drano), it’s just nice to go to the shop and have someone provide some TLC to my strands. You know, someone who actually knows what they’re doing (or I at least hope they do). But the salon experience is not like it used to be, and often you leave later than you planned to, and many times, you walk out that joint frustrated by your experience. I’ve gone to the salon to get just about any and everything done to my head: braids, relaxers, wash and press for my ‘fro, haircut, color (rinse and permanent) and more. And because of crap-tasmic experiences, I’ve had to go through more salons than underwear. If these things occur while I’m in a joint, I’ll say, more than once, it might be time to keep looking. And you should too.
Where do you get your hair “did?” Is it some fancy ritzy place or do you go to a hood salon? Hood salons are so fun, but they can be kind of a drag sometimes too. Not sure whether or not your salon qualifies as hood?
If you can identify with five or more of these signs, then you must admit that your salon is hood!