Raise your hand if you have vivid childhood memories of sitting in between the legs of your parent, guardian, or older sibling, with your face screwed up as they raked through your curls and told you to “hold still otherwise it’s going to hurt even more”. This was an unfortunate reality for many of us with curly, kinky or afro hair for several reasons; some of us may have been overly dramatic kids who complained too much, whereas others may have just had parents who were too heavy-handed when combing out our knots. Or perhaps some of our families were just so busy that getting hair done became a rushed and traumatic experience. For all of us, Mini Manes could’ve been there to help.
Mini Manes is a mobile child hairdressing service that offers braiding, styling and natural hair treatments for children aged one to 18 years. They are primarily based in north London, but also travel to homes in north west and east London as well as parts of Essex and Hertfordshire, offering advice and hairdressing services to children of all hair types and ages.
gal-dem caught up with Chanel, co-founder and lead stylist of Mini Manes, to learn more about the business, and experience a Mini Manes home appointment for myself. Chanel was set up in the client’s kitchen, gently and swiftly styling the eldest daughter’s hair into intricate cornrows whilst she watched her favourite videos online. Meanwhile, mum was able to tend to her younger daughter, making phone calls and cooking dinner. It was a calm yet fun setting.
“Coming from a multiracial family, we were always offering advice to family members about how to style their children’s hair.” After realising that the wider community could benefit from their skills and support, Mini Manes was created as a hairdressing service. However, the more Chanel spoke to parents and children, the more she wanted to develop Mini Manes beyond hairdressing. “Hearing passing comments from both children and parents opened our eyes to the stigma around afro and curly hair textures. This made us realise that we should have a greater focus on educating and empowering children to love who they are and show them that what they might view as difficult and negative about themselves is actually the best part of them.”
“Hearing passing comments from both children and parents opened our eyes to the stigma around afro and curly hair textures”
Mini Manes visit local primary schools during the summer term to offer their services at a discounted price and provide general tips for parents about managing their child’s hair. “We’ll do fun styles using glitter or coloured braids to show how creative you can be when it comes to doing your child’s hair. This gives the kids and parents a chance to try us out and allows us to showcase our services; we tend to book a lot of appointments off the back of our school visits.”
Another important activity that Mini Manes organises is an annual book club based around World Book Day. They provide several books to some of their clients, who will then take part in a book exchange lasting for up to a month. The books are all based on self-love, inspirational people in history, or different cultures. Chanel explains that “the aim of the book club is to encourage kids to learn about and appreciate where they come from and where they may be going. I didn’t have access to this kind of literature when I was younger, so I want to make them more accessible for children today.”
So, what actually happens during a typical Mini Manes appointment? Once an appointment has been made, Chanel reaches out to the parent to ask for a texture shot of the child’s hair. That way, she can give them a rough quote and advise them on how to prep the hair for her arrival. Once Chanel arrives at the client’s house, she asks for the child to be put in their favourite place in the house (which is usually in front of the TV!) or it might be at the dinner table where they have an iPad to play with or a book to read. This is to make the child as comfortable as possible.
“I’ll offer tips on what products they should start (or stop) using on the child’s hair. I ask what shampoo they use, and this normally ends up being the first thing that they chuck out the house!”
“My most frequently booked appointment is cornrows, which can take up to two hours, depending on how well the child sits. During the appointment, the parent will ask me for advice and I’ll offer tips on what products they should start (or stop) using on the child’s hair. I usually ask what shampoo they use, and this normally ends up being the first thing that they chuck out the house!” If the appointment has gone well and the child reacts positively, Chanel will book them in every two weeks. That way, the hair becomes more manageable over time and they can see more growth.
When it comes to the future of Mini Manes, Chanel has big plans to develop the mobile hairdressing service. “During the summer, I hope to have a mobile hair salon that travels to major cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool and visits the main shopping centres.” This will help to expand Mini Manes reach and make more people aware of them.
Although the Mini Manes service is not restricted to girls only, most of their clients are girls. Chanel would like to encourage more boys to try out their services because many of them may have long hair and might not enjoy getting their hair cut. “That’s another thing that we want to do in the future – a mobile barbering service. We already offer cuts and trims, but I know that for a lot of toddlers and young boys, the barbering experience can be quite daunting. So we want to change that.” Mini Manes also hopes to launch a range of hair maintenance products such as bonnets, headscarves and durags.
Chanel used to work in a primary school full time – it’s clear that when it comes to interacting and engaging with children, she’s a natural. “Working with kids has always made me really happy, and being able to combine that with my passion for hairstyling is a dream come true.”
See Mini Manes in action here:
“Mini Manes vision is to educate and empower a new generation to love their hair and be confident with who they are”
Posted by gal-dem.com on Tuesday, 29 May 2018