It’s all in the family
Client Russell Fraser
Styling Aquarius, 9 Stroud Green
Road, Finsbury Park, London N4.
Tel 020 7263 2483
Russell is an extrovert record promoter, getting R’n’B and hip-hop sounds onto national radio and TV. He’s got his own sense of style and puts his loyalty to the Finsbury Park salon down to good vibes.
‘I was really young when I started coming here with my best friend Leee John of Imagination,’ he says. ‘We’d heard about the place so we took a bus and found a place where we felt at home.’
Russell’s been coming here ever since, looking in on the Parry family who own the salon every Saturday, even if he isn’t having his hair done. ‘It’s the sort of place that’s so informal people just come in for a chat,’ he laughs.
The doyenne of Aquarius is Cisline ‘Mummy’ Parry, a much-loved Jamaican lady who tells me that Russell now brings his wife and two daughters aged 14 and 18 along when he visits on a Saturday.
‘If I don’t show my face for three weeks, I’ll get a call. “Where are you? Are you okay?” So I don’t stay away,’ jokes Russell.
Over the years, Russell’s hair has seen some big changes. The Aquarius hairdressers have given him Jheri curls, Chiney bumps and braids. They’ve straightened it and turned it into a chess board for the special ceremony when he renewed his marriage vows with his wife.
‘It’s become a family thing. We go to Jamaica together and our lives have intertwined,’ expIains Russell. ‘I wouldn’t say I am vain but I do like to change the colour of my hair frequently.’
‘My mum liked dressing up and having her hair done, so that’s where I get my love of changing my hair style,’ says Russell. ‘There is a party atmosphere in here – I just enjoy coming over to see my friends.’
He is my saviour!
Client Natalie Holden
Stylist Steven Goldsworthy at
1 Catherine Street, Swindon,
Wiltshire SN1. Tel 01793 523 817
‘Steven Goldsworthy has been doing my hair for about 20 years since I was at secondary school. Coming from Swindon, in the Eighties there was no-one in the area who did Afro hair and although I’m mixed race I do have a really big afro!’ explains Natalie. ‘Steven was the first. Up until then I had to trek to Harlesden to get my hair relaxed twice a year.’
Natalie lists the highlights of their relationship: ‘In the Eighties, prior to straightening irons, Steven used to blowdry my hair straight twice a week. My hair used to steam so much they would open the windows so as not to trigger the fire alarms. Also, Steven would have to work so hard with the brush that he would get blisters on his index finger. However his efforts were well worth it – I had gorgeous straight hair and flicks like Princess Di (until it rained).
‘In the Nineties, it wasn’t always plain sailing either. Steven used to say “These are scissors, not a wand”. We argued once about cutting my hair short and spikey – Steven said “Don’t do it”, I insisted and he was right! It looked terrible and I wore a hat for months, which then led to me not having my hair cut for years. ‘By now I was curly (permed to loosen my afro) and I wanted it long and curly. I had it cut once in that time and I played up so much Steven gave me a ‘Child’s First Hair Cut’ certificate and a little bag of hair as a keepsake – he’d only trimmed it!
‘In the Noughties, we’ve experimented with colour too. I wanted red hair, but every colour we used only showed when the sun shone on my hair. Steven kept trying things and currently I am sporting honey highlights which I love – Steven persuaded me this was the colour and he was right.
‘Steven has spent at least three years trying to get me to go straight. I was loathe to change, but when he promised me “If it’s good enough for Beyoncé, it’s good enough for you” I went for it. He was so right. I now have it straight and coloured and it’s so different. It just proves how much you can do with afro hair; you just need someone with the vision to keep battling and trying things.
‘Often people have stopped me and asked who does my hair. When I explain it’s Steven Goldsworthy, a few women have expressed surprise that a ‘white guy’ can do my hair so well, (then they go and book in with him!). I’ve never seen anyone on the television or in magazines who understands afro hair as well as Steven. He loves the challenges it presents and always looks out for new things.’
Natalie’s loyalty to Steven clearly knows no bounds. ‘In the age of mobile phones and emails, it’s great as I can always get him out of hours. I have texted him while he’s doing photo shoots, conferences and even on holiday – the poor thing. I drive him mad, but I tell him it’s worth it just for my devotion!
‘Once when he was in hospital, I offered to visit and take my tongs so he could tong my hair into big ringlets (just to stay in practice) – he didn’t respond to that one!
‘He took up flying. I hate him doing anything dangerous – what would I do if anything happened to him? My hair would be terrible within a week! I always say to Steven that we are growing old together. He has no choice in the matter!’
A good working relationship
Client Karen Cummings-Palmer
Stylist Michael at Nyumba,
Michael Charalambous, 6-7
Mount Street, Mayfair W1.
Tel 020 7408 1489.
Karen Cummings-Palmer is a marketing consultant and has also done some writing. She owns Core London, the capital’s most exclusive Power Plate studio. Her mother is from Ghana and her dad is from Sierra Leone, and with a very busy schedule, having a weekly blowdry is a necessity rather than a luxury.
Like all of us, Karen wants her dark brown hair to look good as it builds her confidence. She’s been going to Nyumba for the last year and intends to carry on going there, fitting visits into a very busy working life. The Power Plate takes care of keeping her body in shape and Michael at Nyumba in Mayfair takes care of her hair.
‘I like the vibe in the salon,’ says Karen. ‘They are warm and efficient and used to dealing with the demands of hectic lives. It’s great to have a salon in the middle of Mayfair that brings to mind the essence of Africa,’ she adds.
The decor in Nyumba is eclectic – traditional tribal artefacts mixed with a modern African taste. It’s an unique tribute to Michael’s upbringing in Tanzania and there is always a buzz around the place. The objects on display are constantly changing so while you are having your hair done, it’s like visiting a museum or gallery.
‘My hair is shoulder length and completely natural so it is hard work,’ says Karen. ‘Blowdrying it once a week takes about 40 minutes, then a quick five minutes sitting in velcro rollers. A shot of Elnett and I am ready to go.’
Other clients agree that the speed with which Michael and his team work doesn’t distract from the end result. There is a professionalism instilled into the team that ensures a brilliant head of hair no matter how you Iook when you arrive.
‘I have my hair cut about every eight to nine weeks,’ continues Karen. ‘Michael is very, very good at blowdrying and has a special touch. He gets it very smooth without pulling. Very little hair comes out in the brush which is great.
‘With Michael I manage to have condition and style. He uses very good products and he is ridiculously vivacious and jolly good fun. He does my hair and entertains me at the same time.’
The salon is run by Michael and his Italian fiance Julia. ‘Michael and Julia are more than hairdressers, they are really fantastic hosts. I always have lemon and ginger tea which is lovely. My hair has been natural for six years and, more important, it’s in decent condition. I do nothing between visits to the salon.
‘Getting my hair done costs about as much as a nice lunch but lasts for much longer. I wouldn’t mind a couple more inches in length, but I am pretty happy with my hair. It is healthy and doesn’t fall out so I am blessed.
‘If you find a hairdresser you love, stick with them. It’s important they know what works for your hair and they take pride in maintaining its condition. I’m lucky to have found Michael and would recommend him to anyone with curly hair.’