“I Was So Hype” The Wrap Life’s Nnenna Stella Recalls The Moment She Learned Her Headwraps Landed The Vogue Arabia Cover
My box braids are about two weeks past their prime and my hair is long overdue for a deep condition, but after the experience that was Black Panther, I can’t bring myself to take them out and give up whipping them back of forth in all of my Wakandan glory. Lately I’ve been getting my bun and head wrap style on and although head wraps have increasingly grown in popularity for some time, many other women are forming a newfound love with the look as well. She may not exactly be ruling Wakanda, but designer Nnenna Stella snagged the Headwrap Queen crown in 2014 when she launched The Wrap Life, a website that sells headwraps in a variety of fun colors and styles as well as offers tips on how to wrap and has also expanded to include jewelry and products for self-care.
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In high school I started journaling my dreams. I had this theory that I was living things I previously dreamed about so I started to record my dreams so I'd have proof. I've defined 4 different types of dreams, communicated with otherworldly folks, visited a place where symmetry does not exist and recently dreamt about a group of black women who were born in the wrong time period. They had incredible gifts to offer but that time and space was not ready to receive or acknowledge them. They had arrived too soon. The dream realm is beyond magical. It's far more important and insightful than we acknowledge. It's literally another dimension of consciousness. Imagine this. You're multi dimensional while you sleep. ❤️
The Little Rock, AK native’s brand recently went global thanks to an exciting opportunity that came by way of Vogue Arabia. Stella shared with Refinery29 that when the publication first reached out, she was in disbelief and literally asked for receipts:
“I was like Vogue? Yeah, right, have them send the call sheet!”
Stella says she’s had her share of ill-intentioned offers in the past, so she was skeptical, but Vogue quickly came through with the call sheet and within the same week Stella was on set styling headwraps.
Stella had another OMG moment when she learned her looks had landed the cover of the magazine’s “biggest issue ever” filled with “fashion trends, bold beauty, empowering women, icons of Arabia, celebrity interviews, and a Middle Eastern royal contributor.” Stella was out getting coffee when she heard the big news and it turns out the caffeine was no match for the excitement over an email personally sent by supermodel Iman:
“I was so hype,” she gushes about seeing models Iman and Imaan Hammam rocking her head wraps with Saint Laurent gowns. Stella also styled Iman for the New York premiere of Black Panther.
“My hands started shaking and I forgot what I was ordering. I didn’t even know when the cover was coming out, and then Iman sent me an email 30 minutes later with a big-ass picture of the cover.”
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In a world exclusive, two generations of icons unite for the anniversary issue of #VogueArabia, with not one, but three covers. With life stories deeply rooted in the Arab world, @imaanhammam and @the_real_iman are the perfect cover stars for the bumper March issue. In our biggest-ever issue, expect modest fashion trends, bold beauty, empowering women, icons of Arabia, celebrity interviews, and a Middle Eastern royal contributor. Plus, so much more… #ImaanHammam and #Iman both wearing @ysl dresses and @thewraplife turbans في سبق عالمي فريد من نوعه.. يلتقي اثنان من أجيال أيقونات الجمال معاً لرسم معالم ليس غلافاً واحداً أو حتى غلافين اثنين، بل ثلاثة أغلفة مبهرة احتفالاً بمرور عام على إطلاق أول عدد ورقي من #ڤوغ_العربية. وعلى خلفية قصصهما الحياتية الضاربة بجذورها في أعماق العالم العربي، كانت الأنيقتان إيمان همَّام @imaanhammam وإيمان عبد المجيد @the_real_iman نجمتيّ الغلاف المثاليتين لعدد مارس الزاخر بالكثير من المواضيع. وفي عددنا الأضخم على الإطلاق، انتظروا صيحات أزياء محتشمة، وإطلالات جمالية جريئة، وتعزيز نهج تمكين المرأة، فضلاً عن مشاهدة أيقونات العالم العربي والاطلاع على حوارات حصرية أجريناها مع عدد من المشاهير، بخلاف شخصية مساهمة من إحدى العائلات الحاكمة في الشرق الأوسط. كل هذا، وأكثر… ترتدي كلٌّ من #إيمان_همام و#إيمان فستاناً من إيڤ سان لوران @ysl مع توربان من ذا راب لايف @thewraplife مديرة قسم الأزياء: كيتي تروتر @katieellentrotter، تنسيق الأزياء: ميكيل فيلوز @michael_ philouze، تصوير: @patrickdemarchelier، تصفيف الشعر: أوسكار جيمس @oscarjameshair وتومو جيداي @tomojidai، المكياج: بورشه @porschefabulous
Stella who describes herself as “an explorer” on her Instagram page says that during the shoot, which also marks the 1-year anniversary for the publication, she developed an appreciation for how Vogue Arabia balanced respect for the culture’s traditions and beliefs whether attention was paid to making sure models didn’t show too much skin to remaining committed to inclusivity:
“This strategy was so special because it was inclusive and diverse, and I really appreciate that as a woman of color.”
Stella got the idea for The Wrap Life four years ago after becoming frustrated with her job as a waitress and challenging herself to a 30-day challenge of self-discovery in which she learned she wanted to add some different hues to her life:
“When you have a clear picture of yourself, it gives you certain room to want to be expressive.”
“As I started to understand who Nnenna is, I wanted to be more colorful and vibrant.”
An experiment that started with Stella tying a winter scarf around her head led to a unique business idea:
“I tied it around my head and it felt really incredible. And that was one hint to start the company. I just wanted to give other women this really good feeling of wearing beautiful textiles, styling them, and walking out into the world. Everything you wear is saying something. It’s really transformative, it’s really magical.”