As though I wasn’t already wowed by the BRAID COUTURE catwalk showcased at the very first Black Beauty and Fashion Awards (BBFA) on the 23rd February, when I discovered the whole collection is made from 100% braided hair – I was intrigued to discover more!
Hair extensions are a familiar part of black culture, particularly for black women, allowing for diverse hair-styles of self-expression. From cornrows to kinky twists, to what I remember as my first childhood reference to the ‘single-plait braids’ in Ghana being refered to as ‘rasta’; braided hair extensions are universal. Today hair extensions are available in various colours, lengths and textures, offering cost-effective traditional methods of protective styling and manageability accustomed to black women, from childhood to adulthood, globally.
So it didn’t take much convincing when my event date, fashion stylist Julius Reuben leaned over after the fashion show ended to say; “Let’s go see Angela backstage.” I promptly removed the napkin from my lap, we excused ourselves from our VIP table and snuck through the backstage doors of Porchester Hall to pay our compliments to the designer herself, where I also managed to also get some sneaky shots with her stunning models fresh off the catwalk!
This International Women’s History Month I’m launching #SupportHerHustle; an ongoing series of blog posts highlighting inspirational, wonderfully diverse and intersectional women I meet on a day-to-day basis. It’s part of my ‘Let’s do Lunch‘ philosophy towards making meaningful connections, and my way of telling these women; “I salute you!“
So it’s with pleasure to kick the series off with Award-winning International Creative Hair Artiste and CEO of BRAID COUTURE, Angela Plummer, who’s unique use of braided hair innovatively intertwines beauty and fashion.
How did you get into fashion design and what inspired you to use braided hair extensions as fabric?
I come from a family of fashion designers, seamstress and cooks / chefs. So naturally, I’ve wanted to be a fashion designers for as long I can remember. Every day after school I would run home jump on the sewing machine to make something fashionable – or so I thought! If I wasn’t sewing, I was knitting anything to do with fashion, that was me.
By the age of 10 I started to braid my own hair, and in due course I discovered I was somewhat good at styling hair. I started to enjoy what I was doing. In time I fell in love with hair, natural hair to be exact, and I started braiding / twisting friends and family hair as a hobby. I didn’t notice by doing hair it was distracting me from my love of fashion.
As the years passed by I established myself as an award-winning hair stylist, but not being content with just being a hair stylist, I felt that a part of me was missing as my love for fashion never left me. I had to find a way to merge the two together as one. Then it hit me; why not use hair as my fabric?
So I started my clothing line BRAID COUTURE. I chose to use hair as my fabric just to challenge myself to see what I could achieve which I knew was not going to be easy. A few mistakes here and there, a lot of wasted hair along the way because once a mistake is made alteration on hair is harder to do than on fabric. A lot of patience is needed.
BRAID COUTURE is now an award-winning Fashion Brand and is going from strength to strength.
How long does it take to make a collection? What keeps you motivated during this period?
A collection of ten pieces can take up to 6 to 9 months to complete, but it all depends on what I am making. In my Braid Couture Curves line I have 8 pieces in total which took me 10 months to complete. Reading back my answer I would tell myself “girl you’re crazy!” but when you are doing something you love, no amount of time is too long. I’m blessed to wake up every morning to do what I absolutely love.
What keeps motivated is my family. My family are my biggest inspiration, what they do in their every day life pushes me, gives me the strength I need to continue to do what I do and love. Without them there would be no me. There are my heart, my whole life.
What were some of your highlights of BBFA?
First of all, it was a pleasure being asked to showcase my brand Braid Couture at such a prestigious event of black excellence hosted by Cherry Jumbo.
As I was upstairs getting my models ready for the show so never really got the opportunity to see much of it beforehand. What I did see after my showcase was finished were the performance of the singers, who by the way killed it on stage, and got the guests going, Cherry receiving a bouquet of flowers for hosting a fantastic event which I’m honoured to be a part, of course Julius Reuben slaying in a Braid Couture hair piece looking flawless as always. These were some of my highlights.
Why do you think it’s important we celebrate the black contribution to the Beauty and Fashion industry?
It’s extremely important we celebrate black contribution to the beauty and fashion industry by recognising the black owned brands who invented their products themself, which is something that can sometimes can go unnoticed. We trend to get into the hype of others fronting brands which are not black owned. For me it’s important to celebrate black-owned brands like TAJJ cosmetics from Canada, also at the BBFA, creators of the corn concealer to cover up your toes during the summer time in order for you to wear sandals without feeling everyone is looking at your feet!
My blog is all about creating meaningful connections. What advice can you give to someone wanting to make it in the fashion industry as a fashion designer or model?
I would say be true to yourself, follow your heart – your passion, and never let anybody tell you cannot archive your dreams. Be the best you can be. Believe in yourself first then others will believe in you. Never let anybody tell you, you cannot do or archive. Work hard and in time the rewards will follow.
Most of all remain humble, and never think you are better than anybody else because sometimes as quick as we rise we can fall… I always say; “KEEP DOING YOU because nobody can do you better!”
If you could have lunch with anyone famous (dead or alive) who would it be, and what food would you share to make it memorable?
I would have to say Bob Marley. From as long as I can remember, morning noon and night, my mum always listened to Bob Marley – to this day his music can be heard coming from my mum’s house on a daily basis.
We would have brown stew chicken with rice and peas, salad on the side washed down with Guinness punch talking about how we could work together to create something amazing!
CLICK HERE to view a video of the BRAID COUTURE catwalk show at the Black Beauty and Fashion Awards 2018.
I’m always on the look out for inspirational women to connection with. If you’d like to share your story – your hustle on the Let’s do Lunch blog, CONTACT ME and let’s do lunch! More #SupportHerHustle interviews on the blog next!
Happy International Women’s Day to all my intersectional women and femme-identifying siblings!
So, when are we doing lunch?… or coffee?
p.s I’m “delightfully dyslexic“, so pls read past any typos, unless they’re embarrassing then in that case flag it up to me!)
Got a hustle? Be part of a network of women with a main or side hustle; business owners, creatives, freelancers, collaborators… We respect your hard work ethic – let’s support each other grow! Share your projects and collaborative ideas in this supportive group. CLICK HERE to join!
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