We put our haircare questions to Charlotte Mensah, top hairstylist and a revolutionary figure in afro hairstyling….
We recently caught up with the lovely award-winning hairstylist Charlotte Mensah to find out where her passion for the hair industry stemmed, mistakes women often make with their hair and advice on how to break into the industry…
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO THE HAIR INDUSTRY?
My love affair with hair began when I was 13. I just loved looking through magazines like Ebony and Essence, and admiring at these beautiful black women. I would try to replicate the styles I liked on my 3 year-old Sister. I really loved using my creativity to recreate different looks – At 16 I attended London College of Fashion, alongside my studies I also trained at Splinters Salon, under the tutelage of the ‘Godfather of Afro Hairdressing’ the late Winston Isaacs.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO START YOUR OWN RANGE OF HAIR CARE PRODUCTS?
Being in the hair industry for over 28 years, I’d noticed that there was a strong need for a premium product, which kept hair moisturized, but without leaving the heavy, oily finish found in so many existing ranges. I discovered Manketti oil, (which has been used in Africa for centuries and is one of the richest most hydrating ingredients that nature has to offer) in 2010, whilst working at a wedding in the Serengeti, East Africa. I had an amazing head massage which also left my hair looking and feeling great, I knew that this was the oil which could achieve what I was looking for, so I decide that it would be a key component within my range.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHICH PRODUCTS TO CREATE AND HOW LONG DOES THE PROCESS TAKE, FROM IDEAS ON PAPER TO A PRODUCT ON SHELVES?
My ideas for products are always focused around the scalp being an extension of your complexion, the process, from idea to product on the shelves can take up to 24 months, this due to the formulation process time from raw materials, and also the need to comply with hair product regulations.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT WHAT YOU DO
I’m blessed to do what I love, surrounded by people I love, meaning it never feels like work. I am provided the opportunity to talk about a large variety of subjects with people from many different backgrounds, and also love the freedom to be creative (if the client allows me to) I truly love influencing my clients, and shaping parts of their personality. Its feels very rewarding.
DESCRIBE A TYPICAL DAY OF YOURS?
Due to the uniqueness and flexibility of my career, There isn’t really a typical day in my profession. If am working at the salon, I usually get up around six-and make sure to always start the day off with a prayer. I spend about 10 minutes in prayer so I can reflect and have some quiet time before I start my day. On an average day I see around 5- 6 clients, many being regular customers who have been coming into my salon for many years, and whom I have felt extremely close relationships with . I also participate on hair styling shoots, and interviews, inspiring others through tutorials and providing an insight into my career path.
HOW HAVE YOU FOUND THE INDUSTRY HAS CHANGED SINCE YOUR FIRST STARTED?
Today’s hairdressing techniques has steered away from chemical services. Clients want to fall in love with their natural God given textures through the use of trialling many different styles, trends and new technology. Afro hairdressing has become a type of science, with many people looking for a professional who is able to provide them with a particular style they may have seen online.
WHAT MISTAKES DO YOU MOST OFTEN SEE WOMEN MAKING WITH THEIR HAIR?
The biggest mistakes I see with women is the lack in upkeeping healthy hair, this is maintained through regular treatments. Many also do not get their hair regularly trimmed, meaning the hair is unhealthy due to split ends.
WHAT THREE TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE LOOKING TO BREAK INTO THE INDUSTRY?
The Afro hair industry is a very exciting industry due to the increase in popularity of this look, this being said its also highly competitive. To break into the industry, one needs to make sure they are focused, determined and hard working. Learning is a key tool to being successful, you should always surround yourself with people who have great experience in this market, which will help you learn. Alongside this, try to enrol onto as many courses and seminars as possible, helping to increase your skills.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
The next stops for both myself, and my hair care line is to push the business Globally, this most certainly a long-term goal. Alongside this I am working on expanding my Manketti Oil range, and establishing the Charlotte Mensah Academy as the number one training establishment in Africa.
Find out more about Charlotte Mensah, book an appointment or check out her products at her website here.