“I always felt like hair was a part of the language of how you take care of yourself and you show up in the world — especially in Jamaican culture, in Black culture,” mentioned Jawara Wauchope. “It’s like a real reflection of the people themselves.”
The Brooklyn-born hairstylist, who is thought professionally as Jawara, had an inkling he wished to work with hair on the age of six or seven, whereas residing in Jamaica.
“Sometimes when my mom was traveling, I would stay with my aunt, and she would have me in the salon with her,” he mentioned. “I discovered the salon to be such a spot of group, of change, of tradition — of every little thing. The complete ecosystem of society was there.
“I used to see women come into the salon not so happy, and I would see them leave the salon happy,” he continued. “At a young age, I thought hairstylists were like magicians, in a sense: They turned your emotions from down to up.”
Jawara wished to wield such magic, too, so he began mimicking his aunt, doing curler units.
“That was at the height of the dancehall era in Jamaica,” the hairstylist mentioned. “There was a lot of parties, music and love. I was surrounded by a community of entertainment and music, partying and food.”
He stems from a household of reggae entertainers, together with his mom, Sister Carol.
“I grew up around people dressing themselves for stage, doing their hair and makeup, wearing elaborate clothing and being really into the way they present themselves,” Jawara mentioned.
Jawara grew to become a mini-apprentice in his aunt’s salon, permitting him to be hands-on. He subsequent moved to New York for center college and practiced his craft on his sisters and their buddies.
“I started to get so creative,” he mentioned. “When I was about 17, I’m, like, doing everyone’s hair in my community.”
A sister sporting certainly one of his coifs was stopped by a salon proprietor, who requested who’d completed her hair and provided Jawara an apprenticeship, which he did after college.
“That’s when I really decided to take this seriously,” he mentioned.
Then, for a motive Jawara nonetheless can’t recall, he began to suppose negatively about hair and opted to attend FIT to review worldwide style merchandising. But a profession in shopping for wasn’t for him, and his coronary heart led him again to hair.
Jawara labored in salons once more, however on days off, started helping high session hairstylists, similar to Guido Palau, Sam McKnight and Paul Hanlon. That then grew to become his full-time profession, and he went solo in 2013.
Everything conjures up him.
“I can sit at a restaurant and watch people walk by for hours,” mentioned Jawara, including he’s additionally stimulated by journey, previous movies and different cultures’ hair creations. Today’s youth, together with his 13 nieces and nephews, make a giant impression.
“In the craft, at this point, I’m inspired by the new generation of hairstylists,” he continued. “I’m inspired by inclusivity, representation and how this industry has changed from when I was assisting. I look at the people who assist me as collaborators. There was a hierarchy when I was assisting. I believe that everyone is equal.”
McKnight has been influential on how Jawara offers with individuals and views hair, and — particularly in his youthful years — he’s adopted the careers of Chuck Amos and Oscar James, notably their work on textured hair.
Jawara listens to music whereas creating. He’s received eclectic style, with favorites working from Sister Carol to Solange Knowles, Beyoncé, Anita Baker, Diana Ross, ’90s R&B, Amy Winehouse and Nirvana.
“I learned how to do hair, as well, by replicating everything I saw in music videos,” he mentioned. Those could possibly be from the likes of Lil’ Kim, Mary J. Blige, Madonna, Grace Jones and Diana Ross.
Jawara is an avowed artwork junkie.
“Hair is art, as well,” he mentioned. “I grew up with seeing structural hair and things done in an intricate way. Looking at art, shapes, colors, silhouettes — it always inspires my hair creations. I’m a sponge; I soak up everything, and just allow myself to grow in this industry.”
His extremely natural artistic course of runs countercurrent.
“I have to feel what I’m going to do, and I can’t feel it until I am in front of the person,” he mentioned. “My assistants are always like: ‘What are we doing today?’ And I’ll be like: ‘I don’t know.’” (He laughed.)
That is, until there’s a transparent directive given on the outset.
Years in the past, Knowles was among the many first to provide Jawara whole artistic license. So he received a really feel for the garments and the temper of the undertaking, and collaborated together with her on one thing “really beautiful.”
Often, the hairstylist sits and talks with the expertise to get a way of the particular person. Sometimes the coiffure concept seems instantly, or it emerges on the way in which to a job and even in a dream.
“The latest it’ll happen is as I’m about to touch the person’s hair,” he mentioned.
Jawara has cherished many a undertaking in his profession, with among the standouts having labored with Beyoncé and the exhibition “Tallawah,” which he conceived for London’s Cob Gallery in early 2020. There, he teamed with photographer Nadine Ijewere to seize the heritage of Jamaican dancehall type.
“I tried to mimic some of the things that I saw growing up, and that I thought were very prominent in Jamaican culture that reminded me of sculptures,” he mentioned. The present had a dose of nostalgia and was a meta second.
“It was a full-circle situation, where I’m back in the place that inspired me to do hair, and what I thought was art and beauty — and now I’m doing an exhibition on this,” Jawara mentioned. “That to me was really amazing.”
Inside the thoughts
Favorite objects: Lip balm. I dwell between New York and London, and on my dressers are in all probability 40 completely different lip balms in every metropolis. The one which I really like proper now could be Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula. I all the time need to have a Bluetooth speaker — Bose or Bang & Olufsen — in all places I’m going.
Favorite podcasts: My new favourite now known as “Earn Your Leisure.” It’s speaking about entrepreneurship and investments. There are another ones which might be gossipy that I really like, like “The Breakfast Club.”
Favorite books: “Just as I Am: A Memoir” [by Cicely Tyson]. I really like that she is talking so freely about her expertise shifting by means of this world as an artist, a girl and an actor. It’s so wonderful. I’m additionally into “Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America,” by Ayana D. Byrd and Lori L. Tharps. It’s actually good.
FOR MORE, SEE:
Maya Njie and Her Art of Fragrance
Isamaya Ffrench: Creativity Unbridled
The Art of Hair: Redefined by Charlie Le Mindu
Through the Unique Lens of Harley Weir