In this month exclusive interview, we catch up with Annie Hood, a Hair dress, stylist, and charity worker . Annie opens up to us, tellng us about her work and life in the entertainment industry and much more.
Can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Annie Hood and i’ve been a stylist for over 20 years. I started working in Kenya as a stylist from a very early age. Now i have my own business which is Afrofusion Hair Academy & Salon, we are suppose to be doing different things around the business and we are getting there.
How long have you been a hairdresser and when did you decide to take it on as a career?
I’ve been in the hairdressing industry on and off for about 20 years. I decided to take it on as a career from a very early age, i was once expelled from school for putting all my energy in my passion in my younger days, i also remember having a lot of punishment for braiding hair. Sometimes after braiding the grass, people tripped on it, as my family realise that i wouldn’t stop, i was shown a place to do it, and this helped my enthusiasm and motivation, i also started to work on some few friends hair and that encouraged my interest and development, seeing people appreciating my work gave me joy and i haven’t stopped since then.
Being a hairdresser in Africa, do parents accept it as a career job for their children?
Hair dressing in Africa is taken as a job for the less privilege or people who are not well educated. but i knew from a very early age that i had to take it more serious because it gave me joy, there was so much happening in our young life then and that was my way of coping with most situations.
Who have you worked with in the African industry and who do you wish to work with in future?
I have worked with the first President of Kenya’s wife Ngina Kenyatta ,I’ve also worked with Mrs Kiereine, and Kenya MP’s wife Jane Kiano. When i came to the UK, i worked with a very good and interesting people, I have worked with Karen Salandy BEFFTA Award winning Makeup artist and she has got over 20 years of experience, i have work with Miss Black Africa UK , the best beauty pageant in the UK this was my first and best experience, I have worked with House of JDFK, she is an amazing woman and i enjoy working with her, i have also worked with Veneka Accessories, Best catwalk professor in UK, i designed a head gear and belt for the models in Afro Fusion as well, it has been great working with all these people.
Who do you wish to work with in the future?
They businesses I will like to work with in the future are, Vogue Magazine, Fashion Police and other big companies, thats my goal. Celebrity wise, i will like to work with Kenyan Celebrities like Emmy Kosgei, i met her during BEFFTA Awards and it will be great to work her, Emmy Mustafa is going higher places, working with Fashion Police in America and i will like to work with her, i have designed a hair piece for her which she really love and she is asking for more. Another celebrity i will like to work with is Sarin Kalade, while in Entertainment, Pauline Long and much more. I will also like to do a charity work to raise money like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, all these will be amazing.
What challenges have you faced trying to make your dream come true?
There have been challenges, like leaving in west Hull, East of England, leaving in such a place without many African can be very challenging, it took people time to trust me with their hair, the colour issue was a challenge as well in the past, but it is getting better now, I also studied child Psychology and this is one of the reason i settled in Yorkshire. I never give up in life by nature, creating hair pieces and being creative and designing has always been my passion and that is what makes me happy, giving up is not an option for me, in life, you have to keep going. I understood and learnt to style caucasian hair from Kenya, practising and offering some customers a lower price, which built up my confidence, and this really helped when and moved to Hull in Yorkshire and now i style both black and white hair.
When did you first develop the idea of helping young people through training?
Well for me to be where i am today, someone spotted me at a very early age, someone offered me a chance knowing how good i was, A very good woman asked me to work for her, at one point, i became the manager of the business, and i got so much experience and confident in my field, i also started working, helping younger girls in Kenya who lose their track in life, so i brought it here and its growing so rapidly. We have so many issues like early pregnancy, disturbed girl, i encourage them and tell them not to give up. some of them get really close and opened to me, and some time ago i met some young girls who can sing but don’t know how good they are, so i encourage them, we go to shopping centres to sing and all these little things help to build up their motivation, they really appreciate it and say thank you. we are not going to stop, we are getting bigger, i want to organise for them to work in other environments such as nursing homes
I also intend to take my work to Kenya, to teach most young girls good customer service and much more, i discovered that this is a very big problem back home.
What challenges have you faced while helping young people?
Everyone who came to me have their own issues in a positive way, most of them are ready to do something for themselves, its very rare to get a stubborn one, and i don’t give them that opportunity, they develop a great respect for what we do. I had a young girl who dropped out some time ago, but later came back, you have to give them that chance, most of them are open minded and explain why they can’t concentrate, but most of them work hard and move on once they start. they are our future leaders and we need to give them that opportunity.
What will you do differently from being an inquisitive child of yesterday to being an adult a mother and a teacher of today?
Younger people today have the opportunity to be who they are, if i did have the same opportunity while growing up, i would take things more seriously i don’t know where i could have been today. As an adult, there is a lot of things that happen in life, most adults give up too easily, i will say this, anyone can make it at whatever age. I didn’t believe i will be a teacher in hairdressing today, and with that i have taught my student to do the right thing, learn the job and do your best without focusing in the money you will earn. This is one big problem in the hairdressing industry these days as well, most of them are doing it for the money, and not the passion. A hair dresser should be able to give advice to clients for what’s best for them most times, helping them to understand their own hair, it is great when a customer gets the right advice. I educate not only my students but my clients as well and this is very important in this industry.
What do you think of young people of today in general?
Each and every one of them are different, and sees things in a certain way, we need to consider the environment they are brought up in, and put ourselves at the same level with them. Parents are working so hard in this day and age and therefore don’t give their children enough attention as well, i work so hard and long hours to be precise and have to take care of my son, so i know how it feels.
Do you ever think of taking your skills to Africa to help young people?
Yes we are already working on that. We are also considering looking into issues like family planning, HIV is very high, i have a friend who is a doctor in the US, and we are talking about working on something to help, with my creativity, there is a lot i can take to africa.
I taught some few women how to create a flower basket, now the group have multiplied and if you look around my shop, you can see their hand work, we use it in events and that way we expose the craft by showcasing and selling them.
How will your training benefit the younger generation?
for example the hairdressing, i have been the best stylist in this area for two years, there is also the fashion show events, and there is a fashion show in June, here in Hull, this will be a great way for the creative ones to showcase their work, we can promote and advertise their work for them. I am very passionate about hairdressing and designing, so i believe this is very beneficial for them.
What advice will you give to young people.
Never give up, serve others if you have to, and you will get it in return. Young people when they learn, they give something back to the community. Life is short , do what makes you happy and keep on going,because this is what life is all about.
It was great interviewing Annie Hood, her inspiration, motivation and hard work it compared to no other. She has also proved that you can make it in life no matter what. We wish her all the best in her business and will definately keep you up to date with her works. To find out more about Annie, check out her facebook page here
Interviewed by: Noellin Imoh