Thursday, 24 July 2014

#Gariandbeans, Indiana, Texas, New Jersey and New York

Hi everyone, back again blogging and I'm currently in London, my favourite city in the world of course! I can't believe we are half way through the year already, this year has been awesome, some days were not easy, life threw a few curveballs, but thankfully grace has brought me through. Just remember when you think you have tried your hardest, you are exhausted and ready to give up, remember your passion, keep going and finish well. 

In the past 6 months I've started wearing my hair out in between protective styles similar to this style below. I brush my hair towards the centre of  my head, and use some stretchy black cotton, to wrap round my hair, to create a puff.

I am praying they will finish the construction at Newark Liberty airport in New Jersey, before I venture there again. The delays are progressively getting worse; on my way to Jersey in May,  I ended up in Washington Dulles airport and had a 10 hour layover instead of 4 hours, because one of the two runways in Newark were closed. Anyway onto the good news! My lovely cousin Kola got married in Indiana in May, it was very emotional, not a dry eye in sight. The couple read their own vows, it is so heartwarming to see two young people with  similar values unite as one. The reception was awesome, they were throwing some shapes on the dance floor. I am still puzzled as to why weddings in America, start later than the weddings held in the UK or any other country. I was so convinced that it couldn't possibly start at the time on the invitation, and although I was assisting with hair and make up, I was awake, showered and dressed for the wedding by 9am and made my way to the venue. Adaku of Third World Profashional (that is the name of her blog) she mentioned this in her blog here, I remember laughing because I have found the late starts to weddings in America to be true. I once attended a wedding in Boston, the service at Church was from midday to 1.30pm and the reception didn't start till 5pm and was slated to continue till 3am, needless to say I left at 11pm, there is only so much eating and dancing one can do. 
My cousin Kola made an awesome natural bride.
One of many awesome pre wedding photographs, her engagement ring is beautiful.

Kola had braids, yes I said it, she wore braids on her big day, swooped together in a braided updo and a bold red lip with a smoky eye! She looked so beautiful, I wish I had more pictures.

Kola has an inspirational website here and has thought provoking vlogs on youtube.

 I'm obviously the last person to know about the Indy 500. It takes place in Indiana during Memorial day weekend which falls on the last weekend in May. It was a nightmare getting from one side of town in Indianapolis (the capital city of the State of Indiana) to the other side of town. Everyone in the hotel kept asking us if we travelled from London to watch the race. They were shocked to hear we came to attend a family wedding. "You travelled all the way from the UK for a wedding??"... If only they knew this was the norm for Nigerians to travel for weddings. In case you are like me, and have never heard about the Indy 500. The Indy 500 is the equivalent of the Formula 1 races, similar cars are used to race but they are called Indy Car see here

I left Indiana a few days later and was Texas bound for a 5 day conference in Dallas. Once the conference ended, I drove an hour away to Arlington to visit family. Dallas has some amazing architecture; Dallas Museum of Art, The Dallas Centre for the Performing Arts to name a few. On the way to Grande Praire, we drove past the JFK memorial; the site where the former president of the United States was assassinated in 1963. Another interesting landmark was Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts which include alumni such as soul singers Erykah Badu and Norah Jones. If you are ever in Dallas on a Sunday, and you attend Church, try and attend a service at a Church called Household of God, the music is amazing!
For those who follow on instagram you will know that #Gariandbeans is trending, desperate to create something chic, but  easy as I had flight to catch to New Jersey and last minute errands to run all in the space of 12 hours. So I turned to my favourite styles of all time, the Mohawk, and with a little tweaking produced #Gariandbeans

Okay so Gari and beans are two separate dishes eaten in Western Africa, I gave the style this name beause of the 3 dimensional effect it creates. As an artist I aim to inspire, I can't tell you how ecstatic I was to have people stop me in public to ask about my hair and the technique. I had the style for 6 weeks, and at week 5, the look of shock I would get when I told people, about how long it lasts. What I love about this style is that it is suitable for anyone and everyone, but the size and the amount of cornrows will vary, there is a trick to ensure that it correlates with the clients hair type and head shape, a good stylist will be able to determine this. For any questions please email,  call 07949507271, or to see variations of #Gariandbeans, and follow and ask questions on instagram.

Another advantage to #Gariandbeans is the longevity of the style. It lasts up to 6 weeks because of the braiding technique used, so even when it has been installed for up to a month it still appears relatively tidy. The photo below is my hair at 5 weeks, find out how I was able to create and maintain the style, how to prevent build up on instagram.

While I was in New Jersey, my best friend and I went into New York to meet up with friends. Our friend Seyi who lives in Harlem suggested we stop at Harlem Shake for a late lunch.

Guess what that is on the wall? Pictures and autographs of legendary actors, writers and musicians. Can you spot anyone you know?

Harlem Shake is on 100West, 124th Street, New York

As everyone seemed to order some sort of dish that contained pork, I chose the Jerk Fry Burger instead, it was surprisingly filling and moderate portions which meant I didn't feel uncomfortable afterwards.

A few days later, we went to Abuja International a West African restaurant in Union New Jersey. As soon as the food came we ate immediately, I couldn't help but chuckle at the thought of restaurant that does not serve appetisers? Not even peanuts? I must say the food was amazing, and I left satisfied. I ordered Pounded Yam and Efo Riro

So if you missed my last post here you will know that I was at the Bronner Brothers show in Atlanta. If you ever have the opportunity to go to America, make the most of it by visiting more than one state,each state is so different from the next. Its shocking it was 30 degrees centigrade (86 F degrees) in Texas in May and its the same temperature in London, right now in July, although I am enjoying the weather in London at the moment, but I dread to think of how hot it must be in Texas now. I am looking forward another summer of weddings in London with yours truly doing bridal hair and exhibiting at Wedding fayres, this season will be busy but exciting.
Any questions? Please ask away! Email, call (If based in the UK) 07949507271 to discuss consultations and for style inspiration follow on instagram
Till next time,

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Southern Hospitality and The Bronner Brothers Hair Show

Happy New Year!!! Yes its March and I'm saying Happy New Year, better late than never. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year. So what is new? My brother got married in February, all my siblings are married *sobs* I guess it is me next!! That is me below wearing my aso ebi ( the literal meaning of "Aso ebi" is "Family Cloth", where family members/friends of the bride and groom wear similar outfits). I love this French lace, not so much the velvet and although there was a mishap with the lace, I'll definitely rework this blouse and wear it to another occasion with a wrapper. If you are based in London, and you need a tailor, call Rosemary 07984093205, she can retrieve anything from the jaws of destruction, there was hardly any fabric to work with after the mishap and she still managed to produce this. I had unraveled my belt after eating and dancing.

My 5 year old niece asked me later on, "Aunty why did you wear a ripped top to the wedding" I laughed, the design was supposed to be  inspired by Stephen Khalil.

 If you follow me on Instagram you will know that I went to the Bronner Brothers Hair Show in Atlanta. Every time I visit southern States in America, I am overwhelmed at how polite and helpful people are. Growing up in London, on the way to school, work or Tesco, as soon as I step out of the house the only person I spoke to was my next door neighbour. On the Underground you either have a book to read, you listen to music, or the last option if you have neither of the two would be to stare into space. You can do anything on the London Underground apart from make eye contact or physical contact with other commuters. In the southern States, people greet each other, stand up when a lady or elderly person needs to sit down, they assist with your luggage, stop you on the street to tell you how beautiful you are, and whilst paying for items, the cashier asked me if I need help to count my money ( I really need to learn how to recognise each coin in American currency)...maybe I need to move to America altogether.
Bronner Brother Show

 So I spent a day with Terrence Davidson . Yes that is right, only the man behind the tresses of many celebrities including Patti LaBelle, Jennifer Hudson, Tamar Braxton ( I love that song "Love and War"), Tyra Banks, Sharon Osbourne and many more. Terrence has also worked on "Good Morning America" (the equivalent to "Day Break" and "Good Morning" on ITV in the UK) Glamour Magazine, the CBS network....the list is non-exhaustive.

Jennifer Hudson, Oscar Winner and Finalist on American Idol Season 3
I'm not a fan of lace wigs, but Jennifer Hudson wears lace wigs well

Sharon Osbourne 25th Richest Woman in Britain in 2009 (Sunday Times Richlist) 

I love the plum colour that Sharon wears nowadays, its much softer than the shade of red she had during the reality show "The Osbournes"

Patti LaBelle Grammy Award Winner, NAACP award winner, inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame
I need to look this good at 70

So where was I? Back to the day I spent with Terrence Davidson 

Myself and Terrence just before judging a Hair Competition

Not quite sure what happened in the first picture, they were supposed to be air kisses

I remember when the artist Nicki Minaj made her debut on the rap music scene, although I did not listen to her music, but, I was curious about the stylist behind her infamous wigs.

The precision with which they were created, the strategic positioning of colour placed in each wig. I knew from my years of experience with hair, that those wigs required a certain level of craftsmanship and were painstakingly created. So when the opportunity arose to spend one day out of the three day long hair show with Terrence, I couldn't say no. I have to say Terrence is a humble and kind person, and at one point he literally had to hold on to me to ensure I didn't get lost at the event, with the amount of people at the hair show.

On the Sunday, during the Bronner Brothers hairshow, we participated in a "Meet and Greet" alongside Derek J (from the Real Housewives of Atlanta) with Black Hair Sophisticate magazine readers. Next up were interviews, then we moved on to speak to stylists participating in the Bronner Brothers Fantasy Hair Battle. I honestly did not know how serious the story behind the lawsuit between Terrence and Nicki Minaj, as someone who keeps abreast of current developments in the industry and a hair fanatic, I had heard about it. By the time I had arrived in Atlanta it was all over the news. Terrence had created a lot of wigs for Nicki Miniaj and as everyone knows, as a musician your image is a deal breaker, it may not appeal to everyone but it will definitely set you apart from your competitors in the music industry.
During the Meet and Greet with Black Hair Sophisticate Magazine

I wish I had taken a picture of Derek J's shoes from a better angle, homeboy was wearing 5 inch cut out leather wedges with a perspex heel

Just before the judging of the Fantasy Hair battle took place, aspiring "Celebrity stylists" sat and listened intently as Terrence gave a moving speech, he spoke about spending hours in hotel rooms till 3am, whilst others slept creating these amazing wigs for special appearances, interviews, concerts and music videos, but as an artist who desired to be successful, he did not have a copyright on his creations. In my opinion, as a creative, you can never dwell on the same creation, and you have the ability to produce a wealth of artwork that will inspire others. Each wig he created was different to the last one, and his wig construction is impeccable. Yes, you may be motivated, push boundaries, be influential and innovative, but as an artist you must to have your legal work together, put your stamp on what is yours, copyright what you create, watermark your work, sign and date your creations, and do not allow others to take advantage or capitalise on your handiwork. Check out Peniel Enchill, she is a fashion illustrator ( I am huge fan) she signs every single illustration. As Terrence spoke about his journey so far, it moved me to tears and I found the ladies beside me felt the same way.

A group of us spent the rest of the day walking around the Georgia World Conference Centre  where the how was held, with over 300 exhibits on the day. I had been waiting to attend this show for almost a year, as this was all new to me, I kept stopping to stare at things like this below.

Incase you did not know I am from North West London, where you do not see hair shows like this ever. Every so often, someone from the group would ask "Where is London?" Yes London being me, because they kept losing me among the sea of people at the show. The funny thing is I never lost sight of the group, you know why? 

Because of this

My dear Preshaylyn created this look on herself, yes another pround memeber of team #Idomyhairmyself, it was a God send, even at 20 feet away I never lost sight of the group and managed to catch up with them.

I stopped to eat a late lunch of Soul Food. This is a huge part of  the dining experience in the South, but seriously it is quite worrying how inexpensive it is, to dine out in America, even the Michellin starred restaurants in America do not compare with those in England and France. So guess who sat next to me to eat a burger, only Joe Dudley, the CEO of Dudley Products Inc. Who watched "Good Hair" by Chris Rock? Dudley Products Inc is one the biggest manufacturers and distributors of cosmetics for the African-American community, the company was featured in the Chris Rock's documentary about the African-American hair industry . Mr Dudley is more or less an institution and has his own cosmetology school where he has trained over 30,000 stylists. As we sat down to eat, Joe Dudley asked others around the table where they were from, finally he introduced himself as Joe Dudley, I sat in disbelief and asked him to hurry up and eat his burger and prove that he really is Joe Dudley and to take me to his booth. 

 Yes that is him signing his book for me, he gave me over $200 worth of his products including books and DVDs for free!!
 That is his medal from the Horatio Alger Association

 Bryce Herron (Master Cosmetologist) at Shear Genius studios in Atlanta, was on hand to give demonstrations using Dudley products. His work is amazing, sometimes less is more when it comes to hair artistry.
 On my way out of the Bronner Bros show, someone asked where I got my jacket from (Thanks to the girls at Virgos Lounge) and it was only the awesome stylist Angela Christine from the hit television show LA Hair based in Kim Kimble's salon.
Angela Christine and myself, left my hair to run wild and minimal make up

What an awesome weekend in Atlanta, I left inspired, with new techniques and methods from the many classes and demonstrations. So on my way back to New York I bumped into Isis from Hype Hair Magazine at the airport in Atlanta.

How cool is her hair??
 Its similar to the look I created for my cousin's wedding

Except Isis' bun is partly braided, and has a combination of colour 33, colour 2 and colour 4 (various shades of brown and purple.

This post is dedicated to my best friend in America, thank you.

For bridal hair/ hair appointments and consultations, in the UK call 07949507271 or in the US 9738141199

Till next time my loves,

Opeyemi x

Thursday, 26 December 2013

X-Pressions How I love thee

Hi all, it's December already? The end of the year? The last 2 months have been weddings, exhibitions, Thanksgiving and hair events in America, Christmas with my family in London and a hair project with the BBC. The last year has been awesome, I can honestly say I have made a living from doing what I am passionate about. I have met some amazing people.

I've always been a "braid" kind of girl, I like my hair extensions and I rarely have weave installs. When installing braids, I only ever use X-pression hair. The packaging must say "Made in Nigeria".

Whenever I'm in Nigeria, I always go to Balogun market, your go to place for all things associated with hair in Lagos. The minute you walk into the narrow alley way, there are stall holders shouting "Is it Brazilian you want? " "Sister, check this side we have Indian" "Aunty, what do you want? Is it cream? Or weavon?"

A stall in Balogun Market 

The first time I had braids, I used "human hair" it cost an arm and a leg for 3 bags (enough for a full braid install), but it was worth it, what didn't I do to my "human" hair extensions? I washed, blow dried, curled and straightened that install. The disadvantage was after 8 weeks, the braids were taken down and the hair extensions thrown away (years later at a salon in Lagos I discovered people reuse their "human braiding hair"). Ever since that install, I would do my braids by myself with "human hair" extensions. I often bought colour 1, 1b and colour 2 to get this effect but braided the hair to the ends of my natural hair.

Stephanie Okereke, face of Kanekelon Hair

Whilst on holiday in Lagos a few years back, my Aunt had called some stylists to do my hair at her office, they came with a bag of hair. my Aunt brought each bag out one by one, the stylists were eager to impress "Mummy we have Amina, we have Amigos", to which my Aunt replied "Nobody uses Amigos again and , AmAmina is too harsh. Go and buy expressions and start doing this child's hair"

Years later as a stylist and one who has been to "learn salon work" (learn under braid experts) Expressions is the most versatile type of hair extension you can ever use.

Pick and drop, a style where the hair is braided from the roots a few inches down, in some cases a knot is tied at the end of the braid, depending on the stylist and if the client is going for a bone straight look.

It can be left straight, or braided, or thread can be secured at the ends, pulled up creating a spiral shape, dipped in hot water and unraveled, for a curly look.

It can be braided a few inches down twisted (Senegalese braid method), dipped in hot water and unraveled, also referred to as "Watermelon" (not sure why)


Its can be used for cornrows or didi

Didi (inverted cornrows with Senegalese twists)

Ghana weaving

Ghana weaving, with twisted braids, and rollers used at the end for a curly effect

Ghana Didi

Ghana Didi

Tree braids also known as fishbone or African Queen, to achieve a sleek look, it can be blowdried or flat ironed on a low temperature.

Tree Braids

Curly/wavy version of treebraids

Box braids, jumbo braids, micro braids,million braids, the smaller the braid the less hair used

Box Braids

Micro braids

Tight jumbo braids in colour 35

Some of my work, regular Braids with twists at the end, colour 4, 33 and 1b were used

Jumbo braids with colour 30

My all time favourite..... Senegalese twists

Waist length, twists always look better when they are medium sized

My version of Senegalese twists

A combination of these different styles can be used to create new styles altogether

An updo consisting of Ghana weaving with Senegalese twists at the end

Yes, this was done with expressions, a well trained stylist should know how to manipulate expressions to create majority these styles.

You can create a bob, by holding the ends of the hair in a curling tong and dipping it in hot water at the same time.

On the back of each packet of X-pressions, it mentions it contains kanekalon hot water technology, which means it can be manipulated by braiding, twisting and curling then dipped in hot water. The trick is not to dip the hair into boiling hot water when the hair is braided or twisted to the ends. Let the water cool down for a minute, then dip it in quickly, use a hot damp towel for the hair near the roots, add mousse and hairspray for the the finished product. Only dip it in boiling hot water when you have manipulated the hair first by braiding or twisting, do this whilst it is dry if you want a curly/wavy look, and leave the hair for a few seconds in boiling hot water. Take it out, and squeeze it dry with a towel or an old t-shirt, this helps to hold the new curl pattern, then unravel, the twists, braids, or thread used to manipulate the X-pressions.

A lot of my African American clients swore by Kanakelon hair, until they use X-pression hair, the icing on the cake is it comes in over 50 different colours. My favourite colours to use are colour 33, colour 4, colour 1 and colour 30.

Which styles do you like above? Which styles have you done before? Leave a comment below.

In my next post "Product Junkie" I will have a giveaway so check back, for all the details and how to enter the giveaway.

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Call for one of our mobile stylists in London  07949507271