While some stylists spend months and even years perfecting their craft, Yewande Gafaar has been fortunate enough to flourish as a hair braider thanks to her God given talent.
The 23-year-old, married mother of one has been growing her hair business one social media post at a time, splitting her time between London and Manchester in the United Kingdom.
Yewande, who moved to Manchester in 2016, recalls how she realised she had a skill: “I started braiding my friends’ hair when I was in (my last year of high school). I would also do my mom’s and sister’s hair. One of my mom’s friend had a shop and I worked there for a few months and then I decided to go into business for myself.
“I’ve never been formally trained. I kept practicing because I was really into doing hair at that time in my life. I didn’t really want to wear weaves. I have 4c hair so I wanted to try things with it.
“I just went on YouTube to find out what the new styles were and I would try them on people and then I’d practice more and do the style on myself and people would like it. Then they started calling me to do their hair for them. I even did some free hairstyles to get my name out there.”
And she hasn’t looked back since and can often be found making braided wigs for clients as well.
Yewande stresses while women love the versatility of braids, they should be careful not to keep them in too long in order to prevent damaging their hair: “There are a few things to consider…how they maintain the braids or how fast the hair grows, dry scalp or oily scalp. I would not encourage anyone to keep in braids for longer than six weeks. Especially with this weather. It gets really cold and it dries the roots. Hair can fall out.
“With dry weather. Keep hair hydrated. Wash it regularly. It may reduce time which hair is in but overall it keeps your hair healthy and that’s what’s most important.”
Weighing in on the ongoing “good hair” mentality which seems to prevail no matter where Black women are in the world, Yewande says: “I do not buy into the good hair, bad hair hype.
“I think some people need to change their perspective and be a bit more open minded. I’ve had clients who have come to me and said they have to delay an appointment because they have a job interview and would prefer to put in straight weave.
“I believe that we as Black people feed into that as well. For someone to come to me and say that they don’t want my services because they can’t fit into a certain circle means that they would actually conform and not to be true to who they really are.”
If you are interested in seeing Yewande’s work, or would like to book an appointment in London or Manchester, she can be found on Instagram (@yewandesbraids) or on Facebook (Yewande Gafaar).