Despite being an industry which is intrinsically female, the hair world unfortunately isn’t exempt from the gender inequalities that we see across other fields. In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8th March, we’ve rounded up 7 women we look up to from the hair world, who #ChooseToChallenge the industry and inspire others to follow suit.
These are women achieving incredible accomplishments in their careers and, whether you work in the industry or not, their talent, perseverance and entrepreneurship is something we can all learn from.
Celebrity Hairstylist and TRESemmé Global Stylist
Justine Marjan’s big break came when hairstylist Jen Atkin (more on her below) posted on Instagram that she was looking for an assistant. Justine slid into her DMs and the rest, as they say, is history. After perfecting her craft, Justine broke out on her own and now has an A-list clientele including multiple Kardashians and Chrissy Teigen. She’s been a Global Stylist for TRESemmé since 2017, leading backstage at shows including Alice + Olivia and Christian Siriano.
When I was first starting in the industry there was only one female hairstylist working or leading shows backstage at NYFW.
Speaking recently at a virtual TRESemmé NYFW masterclass, Justine touched on her experiences as a woman in the industry. “I definitely think being a woman shapes your experience in any field. When I was first starting with hair in the industry there was only one female hairstylist working or leading shows backstage at NYFW (Odile Gilbert), so to have the opportunity to be working alongside her at fashion week now as one of the lead hairstylists is such an achievement”. She explains “It’s not necessarily working harder to be seen as a woman but you have to work differently. What works for men may not work for a woman, so you just have to use your strengths in a different way.”
Justine’s go-to product is the TRESemmé Extra Hold Hairspray. “It’s so versatile, I love that I can brush through it if I need to or at the end for that final lock of hold. I also love that I can use it through the mid-lengths if I’m trying to build texture or layer it if I need a lot more hold in the hair.”
Celebrity Hairstylist, Salon Owner and Brand Founder
Kim Kimble is Beyoncé‘s long-term stylist and the woman responsible for the hairstyles in her iconic Lemonade visual album. As well as Queen Bey, Kim’s client list also includes the likes of Shakira, Kelly Rowland and Mary J. Blige. An early pioneer in the natural hair movement, Kim opened her first salon in 1995 and her work has featured in film and tv, as well as magazines including Vanity Fair, Glamour and Vogue. She’s now created her own hair care and tools especially for natural hair.
Celebrity Hairstylist, Entrepreneur and Author
Boasting over 3.7 million (yes, million) followers on Instagram, celeb stylist Jen Atkin is pretty much a household name at this point. From humble beginnings as a salon receptionist to jetsetting around the world working for the biggest names in the world (think the Kardashians, Hailey Bieber and Bella Hadid), her Instagram feed is a who’s who of her celeb clients. Founder of the online magazine Mane Addicts, she launched her brand, Ouai in 2016 and released her first book, a memoir of her career, last year.
Hairstylist, Author, Brand Founder and Salon Owner
Charlotte Mensah is British hairdressing royalty. A three-time winner of the Afro Hairdresser of the Year Award at the British Hairdressing Awards, she was the first black woman to be added to the British Hairdressing Hall of Fame. With over three decades of styling experience, she’s the founder of the Hairlounge salon in Portobello Road and boasts clients from Jada Pinkett Smith to Janelle Monae. Passionate about natural hair care, she’s developed her own range of organic and ethically sourced oil-based products.
Celebrity Hairstylist, Colourist and Brand Founder
If you were as obsessed with The Hills and Lauren Conrad as we were, then you’ll know all about Kristin Ess. Kristin moved to L.A. at the age of just 15, where she embarked on a hairdressing apprenticeship while still in high school. After joining forces with Lauren to create the site The Beauty Department, she started working with Lauren regularly and her career exploded from there. Off the back of this success, she has released her own line of perfectly Instagrammable hair care products.
Influencer, Model, Author and Salon Owner
Nia Pettitt (better known as Nia The Light) first began doing hair in her mum’s living room at 16 for friends. She became a well-known figure in the online natural hair community thanks to her voluminous natural ‘fro and honest approach to discussing her hair journey. She opened her salon, The Curl Bar London as a space to celebrate coils, curls and waves and her debut book on self-love and empowerment is set to be released this April. It’s hard to believe she’s still only 23!
We first discovered hairstylist Sabrina Porsche through Shay Mitchell‘s Instagram and instantly became obsessed with her. In Shay’s words, Sabrina Porsche “is a master at all things braids, fish tail, ponies….okay, she is just a master.” As well as Shay, Sabrina has worked with Beyoncé, Solange and J-Lo (to name a few) and has even done braids for Blue Ivy and North West. We can’t wait to see what she does next!