When it comes to dominating the British fashion and entertainment industry, Ghanaians in the UK seem to be ahead of the game. From Edward Enninful, Joe Casely Hayford, Adjoah Aboah and Oswald Boateng, the success of Ghanaians in the UK is undisputed.
One woman who joins in the dominating clan is celebrity hairstylist Charlotte Mensah who has become Britain’s undefeated celebrity hairstylist known for her magic fingers when it comes to both natural and permed hair.
In November 2018, Mensah became the first black woman to be inducted into the British Hairdressing Hall of Fame. The prestigious induction came after she was awarded the UK’s best Afro Hairdresser of the Year at the British Hairdressing Awards in 2013, 2014 and 2017 respectively.
Described by Vogue as the as a leader in the natural haircare movement in the UK, Mensah is a hairstylist to several stars across the world, including Chimamanda Adichie, Erykah Badu, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Janelle Monae, Eve, Tessa Thompson and several others.
She has also been a natural hair activist since 2000, encouraging black women to embrace and display their natural curls.
Born in the United Kingdom, Mensah watched her parents style their hair on their own in the 60s and 70s. On several occasions, her mother had to go to friends house to get her hair done because of the lack of salons catering for black women.
Mensah developed a strong love for hair and its maintenance when she lost her mother at 13 and was left with the responsibility of helping her younger sister with her hair. In an interview with Paper Magazine, Charlotte explained:
Hair is something I fell into. My whole hair journey kind of started when I lost my mother at 13. I started out looking over my younger sister’s hair and that was something I did at first out of play. I would see a new style in a magazine and practice it on her hair, and she was only three, so she literally likes everything. I would finish putting her cornrows in, and she would say that I did a good job, so that was an encouragement.
Exactly 30 years after training as a professional hairstylist at the very first black salon to open in the UK, Mensah decided to open her very own salon. In 1999, the dream became a reality when she opened her salon in Notting Hill called the Hair Lounge, where even Caucasians would come frequently to get their hair braided.
Through her salon, Mensah has gained a name as the go-to authority in black hair by top fashion labels such as Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar.
While campaigning for natural hair, Mensah decided to create a line of products to help women with natural hair. It took six years, but the Charlotte Mensah Manketti oil products has now become one of UK’s and Europe’s most purchased hair product.
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