Photo credit: Monae Everett
Monaé Everett is a celebrity hair stylist, diversity advocate, author, and public speaker with over 18 years of experience. Her work can be seen in media ranging from Harper’s BAZAAR to ‘O, The Oprah Magazine’ and ESSENCE to Hair’s How. She has worked with celebs including Tia Mowry, Taraji P. Henson, Danai Gurira, Emily Tosta and Nickelodeon starlets Lizzy Greene and Sofia Wylie.
Monaé loves to educate and has launched “The Monae Life” online academy specifically for hairstylists, teaching how to style for editorials, celebrities, and styling for all hair textures. Driven by her love to make women look and feel amazing she recently released her first book, Stunning Braids. Monaé regularly uploads video tutorials to YouTube (www.YouTube.com/MonaeArtistry) (where she has about 4 mil views).
Monae’s second book “Get Out of Your Own Way! 25 Insider Tips for Booking Celebrity Hairstyling Clients” is a guide to help hairstylists who want to level up in their careers. Read the book here. Her specialties include Hair Color, Hair Styling, Hair Extension Application for photoshoots, advertisements, television, and runway shows.
Who is Monae Everett?
Monaè Everett is a celebrity hairstylist, author, and public speaker with two decades of experience in the beauty industry. Her work can be seen in media ranging from Harper’s BAZAAR to Yahoo! and ESSENCE to Hair’s How. She has worked with celebrities including Tia Mowry, Yara Shahidi, Emily Tosta, and Nickelodeon starlets.
Monaè teaches hairstylists how to elevate their careers through training, workshops and resources via “The Monaè Life Academy.” The online platform is designed specifically to teach hairstylists how to style for editorials, red carpets, and celebrities with an emphasis on styling all hair textures to photographic perfection. Her most recent book, Get Out of Your Own Way! 25 Insider Tips for Booking Celebrity Hairstyling Clients teaches hairstylists to level up within their career. Driven by her love to make women look and feel amazing, she penned her first book, Stunning Braids, a step-by-step tutorial for creating 25 different braided styles.
As a diversity advocate, celebrity hairstylist and hair visionary, author, and public speaker, can you tell us about your journey into entrepreneurship and what your inspiration for entrepreneurship is?
As the second of five children, and arguably the most opinionated of the brood, I’ve always been open about point of view. When I began my fascination with the beauty industry in high school, I thought I would only do hair while I was in college to avoid the not so funny stories many college students told about being broke. Much to my family’s dismay, I fell in love with my ability to transform women and make them look beautiful.
I soon began to work mainly with celebrities and on productions which allowed me to travel to many major cities including New York City. I started to notice the lack of Black celebrities on major magazines and on general market items that weren’t targeting African-Americans. I noticed that many times the glam squad working on productions weren’t diverse. It became clear that many African-American talent (models, actors, entertainers) were not having their needs met by the hair and makeup departments, many times they didn’t look as dazzling as their co-stars. On top of all of this, the beauty brands constantly picked spokespeople with a particular aesthetic.
These realizations were both upsetting and disheartening. I decided to combat these harsh realities on every level. I wrote one of the only hairstyling books in the market displaying hairstyling for all four hair textures, Stunning Braids. I went into cosmetology schools to teach the students about styling hair for productions and the importance of styling all hair textures. I started The Monae Life Academy to teach hairstylists how to style all hair textures to photographic perfection. I spoke in publications about the lack of diversity behind the scenes and the things we can do to change that. I have also begun to partner with brands to work on making their brands more inclusive.
I was inspired to entrepreneurship because I knew that I wanted to change the way business is done in the beauty industry. I felt it was important myself and my views before trying to align my views with any other corporation or entity.
What has been the Highlight for you since you ventured into entrepreneurship?
My skills as a hairstylist have allowed me to experience things that many can only dream of. I have traveled to Kuwait, New Zealand and London to style hair. I have stood on the Grammy stage to glam my client who was performing. I have created education to help hairstylists develop in their career and follow dreams.
One of the accomplishments I am most proud of is working to draw attention to the need to diversify even outside of the beauty industry. I have created education for all four textures of hair, partnered with brands, and given interviews with publications and television shows to draw attention to the beauty of curly and coily hair. Further explaining the need for diversity in inclusion has led me to give speeches to major financial institutions on anti-blackness hair discrimination.
What does diversity in entrepreneurship mean and translate to you?
Diversity in entrepreneurship means equality in exposure to consumers, resources, and financing. This diversity should be displayed in ethnicity, sexuality, and background.
The beauty industry has many opportunities to add diversity, including the ways previously mentioned. I’d also love to see more African Americans and Black Americans in ad campaigns, as brand spokespeople, in leadership positions, the C-suite, and other front facing positions. It’s important that consumers see themselves reflected at every position possible.
How do you handle running your business successfully in this social clime and what is your mission?
My mission is to empower artists, specifically black women, to achieve goals within the beauty industry that previously seemed almost impossible. I want us to be placed in the positions that we have earned but weren’t given due to lack of access and opportunities.
Working in this climate has been uplifting for me because so many injustices, both public and private, are being investigated. While we are in the beginning of stages on the 2020 Civil Rights Movement, calls for equality are being marred by daily examples of prejudice and racism.
This has even trickled down to the beauty industry. Many major publications and beauty brands have faced a public fallout for past microaggressions and lack of diversity. I appreciate that they begin to reach out to top qualified Black professionals like myself and ask how they can correct their steps moving forward. While the companies must take the lead on creating and maintaining internal and external changes, I appreciate being able to share my voice. More than anything, I hope this proves just impactful having diverse voices at the table is.
How do you innovate? ? And Your future plans as Monae Everett?
I stay innovative by constantly taking classes. I take classes in hairstyling as well as business and marketing. The skill set needed for hairstyling is ever evolving, so it requires my being optimistic to learn. Technology is moving as such a rapid rate that any entrepreneur in any business must allot time to learn how to market themselves online.
I also read books quite often, paint, and love watching TV. All of those activities allow me to think outside myself and expand my thought process. I’m also inquisitive, I love asking other people their opinions to understand their points of view and to see if I can learn something from them.
I am inspired by social justice and history as well.
My future will include educating hairstylists and artists within the beauty community. I just released my second book “Get Out of Your Own Way! 25 Insider Tips for Booking Celebrity Hairstyling Clients”. This guide will help hairstylists who want to level up in their careers.
I am to expand my reach as an international educator. I can’t wait for the opportunity to visit Africa.
I look forward to the opportunity to work as a brand spokesperson. I enjoy empowering women through education within the beauty industry.
I relish in the opportunity of being a guest instructor at cosmetology schools and teaching hairstylists through my online school “The Monae life Academy”. As well as being a guest on numerous podcasts and contributing to many publications including InStyle, Yahoo!, and ESSENCE.
I will continue my expansion to speaking at universities and corporations. I love teaching about the stereotypes and discrimination suffered due to particular hairstyles and beauty standards.
I’m so excited that I am able to combine my degrees in Communications and Sociology with my first love, the beauty industry.
Care to talk about Challenges on your journey and Lessons you’ve learnt?
Unfortunately, I have experienced many challenges along the way. Many were external such as not being born with a silver spoon in my mouth or not having access to certain opportunities within my community.
Some challenges were internal, such as struggling to fit in with my classmates and suffering from low self-esteem. It took many years for me to find a way to learn to love and rely on myself.
Do you have mentors? Who are they and how important is mentorship to you?
I learned fairly early in my career that mentors are must haves. It’s important to find someone that has walked a path similar to the career you would like to have. This allows you to ask questions and possibly reap the benefits of their experience.
An important thing to note is that you may have multiple mentors within a lifetime. Some you will outgrow or your visions may no longer align. Sometimes your focus may pivot and you may need a mentor who focuses on your new area of concentration.
For example, when I first started my career, my first mentor was an amazing hairstylist who owned a beautiful and profitable salon. My second mentor taught me how to ready myself to work with celebrities and on productions. My third mentor’s focus was business. My fourth mentor’s focus in public speaking and presentation. While it sounds consecutive, many times their guidance overlapped.
I knew it was imperative for my success for me to find guidance and understand when it was time to seek new input. Don’t be afraid to pay for strong mentorship with a proven leader in your field, many times the best advice for you will not be free.
Tips on how you handle when the going gets tough?
When things get tough I go back to the fundamentals. I continue to bet on myself. Regardless of how difficult things are, I know that I have persevered and sacrificed to get to where you am. 10 years ago I would not have imagined the possibility of the successes I have achieved today, simply because I didn’t know they were possible.
I often remind myself that anything I dream of can be conceived through education and opportunity which can only come from hard work. I do everything possible to prepare myself for the next opportunity, even if one I wanted isn’t available to me. The truth of the matter is that there will be hundreds more.
Final words to entrepreneurs and women in our community ?
Once I ventured into the career path I loved, it was not supported by many of my family members. They simply didn’t understand why I’d earn multiple degrees to simply be a hairstylist.
Many times we entrepreneurs are given a vision that isn’t shared by our family and friends. It can feel very lonely and cause a lot of self doubt. It’s important to remember that God gives all different paths and everyone doesn’t have to see, agree with, or even help you to attain your goals.
This lack of support doesn’t make them make them your enemy. Most of the time, once you show how serious you are about your vision, they will have no choice but to show their support. The most important thing to remember is that you can achieve your dreams through your hard work and determination.
Read Monae’s second book “Get Out of Your Own Way! 25 Insider Tips for Booking Celebrity Hairstyling Clients” Here
The Leading Ladies Africa weekly interview series focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.
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