Charlotte Mensah is an International award winning celebrity hairstylist with clientele ranging from the rich and famous to fashionistas and their grandmothers. She is the creative director and owner of Hair Lounge London and is also a columnist for a number of leading hair magazines such as New Africa Woman, Blackhair, Black Beauty & Hair, and Sophisticated Black Hair. She has been at the forefront of promoting Natural Afro Hair for over a decade and is also know as The Natural Hair Guru to those in the know.As a proud Ghanaian she is currently in the early stages of developing the Charlotte Mensah Academy to be located in Accra Ghana. The aim of the academy will be to offer less fortunate young Ghanaians an opportunity to learn a vocational skill that will enhance their lives and the lives of their families. We salute you Charlotte!
She recently won a BEFFTA Award (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) a ceremony that honours the best showbiz,entertainment and fashion personalities in the black and other ethnic communities in the UK, USA, Africa, Caribbean and Canada. BEFFTA, aims to inspire black and other personalities worldwide to achieve at the highest levels and also celebrate an all round accomplishments of a hard working community. Along with that award, she also won ‘Stylist of the Year” AND ‘Weave of the Year’ at the Black Beauty/Sensationnel Awards 2012. What a lady!
Congratulations on your recent award, you must be thrilled! We are so happy that you have agreed to an interview with NoScrunchie! We want to highlight people like yourself because; in our journey we have found so many people struggling to find good stylists. A salon ratings website for afro hair is much needed in the UK and we are very excited to be working on this project!
1. How long have you been hairdressing, where did you train and how long did it take?
I’ve been in the hairdressing industry for over 26 years. I trained at Splinters under the tutelage of the one and only Winston Isaacs who in my eyes is the Godfather of British Afro Hairdressing.
2. What does your average client ask for?
A great cut that they can maintain themselves in between salon visits.
3. What kind of style do you enjoy creating most?
I’m extremely passionate about all aspects of Afro hairdressing. Having over 26 years of experience in this industry, I’m able to offer my clients versatility. Whether that be colour, texture, volume, or length in just a few hours your transformation is endless. I also believe and promote education. Every stylist should be able to educate their clients about looking after their style once they’ve left the salon.
4. What would you say is your signature style?
I love the art of African Hair Threading; you can create such wonderful sculptured styles to produce a look to suit the individual’s lifestyle and personality.
5. You are brimming with awards right now, having recently won a ‘BEFFTA’, ‘Stylist of the Year’ and ‘Weave of the year’ at the Black Beauty/Sensationnel Awards…Congrats! What does that mean to you (and where are the awards?)
It was incredibly humbling to have my artistry recognized and appreciated by others. I owe it to my Grandparents who taught me the values of hard-work, faith and self-belief. I have my awards on display in the retails area of the salon.
6. Name some of your favorite shoots you have been involved with, who were they with?
There have been too many to mention but one of the most memorable has to been when shooting a session in Cape Coast (Ghana), I came across this unknown model. She later went onto become the Face of Africa.
7. What celebs have you worked with and who most recently?
I have worked on many heads of musicians, actresses and models, crafting a look that entices many people. More importantly, it’s incredibly rewarding when someone says I trust your vision and creative ability. It’s such a rewarding feeling, and those words sounds good coming from any client whether they’re 9 to 5 or the latest pop star. As a matter of fact all my clients are celebrities to me.
8. We imagine you have an amazing team around you. Tell us about them! How do you spot future talent?
It has taken me along time to build the team that I currently have and I’m still not there yet. I tend to look for team players as it’s infinitely important to surround yourself with others who connect with your creative vision to ensure that every task is given 110% without a strong team the best of visions would fall short.
I meet a lot of aspiring hairstylists and our industry is thriving with talent. I personally like to feel how passionate a person is about Hair, as that can’t be taught, it’s a natural gift from God. If I feel that person is right for me then I’m in the fortunate position to be able give them an opportunity to prove themselves in my salon and when that person shows promise, it’s a wonderful feeling.
9. Firstly, NoScrunchie are firmly on the fence with it comes to the natural vs. relaxed debate, what are your views on the subject?
Afro hair and all its diverse texture from kinky to curly to wavy to straight is truly one of the marvels of our race. Whether we celebrate our natural coils or opt for a straighter style, our options are greater than ever. Know your hair and the TLC your hair needs to stay healthy and luscious, then you can make everyday a great hair day.
10. Are you natural or relaxed?
I’m Natural but I also use Charlotte Mensah Bespoke Hair extensions to make my style look fuller.
11. How many times have you seen ‘bad hair’ and what’s the worst you have seen?
Too many times, a hairstyle shouldn’t hurt and if it does or causes tiny bumps to develop at your hairline it’s too tight. Too many children and women have painful hairdo’s that aren’t necessary. This doesn’t mean you can’t wear a sleek ponytail, but it does mean that you need to loosen it before bed and not wear the same style day after day. Braids are a wonderful low maintenance protective hairdo, when done correctly. When done incorrectly, they can be a fast track to sparse hairline and permanent hair loss.
12. Do you endorse any products?
No, I have my own natural range that I will be launching later this year. These products are an Organic range of natural formulations containing ethical, sustainable and organic ingredients from Phyto-trade Africa. They are free from sulphates, parabins and petrol chemicals, reconditioning the hair making it feel its natural best.
13. You write columns for various magazines, New Africa Woman, Blackhair, Black Beauty & Hair, and Sophisticated Black Hair etc. How do you find the time?
I’m extremely well organized and I’m into time management. In todays language we call it multitasking and as a female it’s where we excel.
14. What do you think of the idea behind NoScrunchie?
I think it’s an excellent idea but we have to remember it all depends on the level of experience and expertise of the stylist. The quality of care is directly linked to the stylists experience and knowledge.
15. What was your worst salon experience before you started styling hair?
I can honestly say, I’ve never experience a bad Afro salon as I’ve never been to one. Owing to the fact that my hair was always done at a top salon where I was trained and then worked.
16. Name a product you can’t live without!
I can’t live without my own mixture, using the highest grade of ethically sourced raw materials.
17. A little birdy tells us you are beginning an academy in Ghana. This sounds amazing. Tell us more!
The idea and purpose behind The Charlotte Mensah Academy will be to provide less fortunate young Ghanaians, with the opportunity to learn a vocational skill. The aim is to arm them with skills that will enhance their lives and the lives of their families.
18. What do you think needs to be changed in the hair industry, as far as the afro hair market goes?
Education, training and team building is the key that we need to instill in our young up and coming stylists, along with a better understand on how our market works. As professionals we should have mutual respect for one another. It’s time we kept our eye on the prize and stop bringing each other down.
19. Give us your predictions for future hair trends for both natural and relaxed ladies.
For Natural hair there will be a big rise in the Bodacious Fro’s, more sculptured Threading styles, Tempting Twists. We will be seeing a rising of Gamime crop as worn by Rihanna and cute chin length bobs with movement very twenties. Mid length styles are going to be about natural movement long soft layers.
20. Give us 3 brilliant hair tips!
Cover hair with a silk scarf before bedtime to help you hair to stay put and protect it from friction and breakage that can result from sleeping on a cotton pillowcase.
Feed your hair from the inside out; include these essential nutrients in your daily diet.
Vitamins and minerals found in fresh fruit and vegetables, omega 3 fatty acids, found in abundance in flax seed oil, Protein found in meat poultry and diary products.
Use an oil treatment at least once a month
Check out styles by Charlotte Mensah below.
Have you been to the Hair Lounge? If so, please review them on NoScrunchie.