The Celebrity Hairstylist and Industry Visionary Encourages his Clients to Embrace Their Natural Hair Texture
BY JOHANNA FERREIRA
Years before Vernon François was working with A-list celebrities such as Lupita Nyong’o, Amandala Stenberg, Serena Williams and Angela Bassett, becoming one of the most influential hair stylists in the industry, he was braiding anything he could find. From the fringes on carpets, to the tassels on curtains, to even practicing twisted styles on a mop. Growing up in a Rastafarian household in Huddersfield, England, helped him develop a deep appreciation for natural hair that would eventually become part of his grander purpose.
“Being raised in a Rastafarian household, treasuring and maintaining hair, locs, and braids was always a priority. My earliest beauty memories are all interlinked with this,” he tells thirteen lune. “Sunday afternoons were the big moment in the week when me and my four brothers would get our hair done. Truth be told, I never enjoyed the process because it was painful for me, but the regular methodical cleansing, re-twisting or braiding of our hair for the days ahead was synonymous with wellness around hair.”
François’ parents were some of his first beauty influences. He remembers the days when his mother would break a piece of aloe vera plant and squeeze the fresh gel straight onto her locs to cleanse and hydrate. His dad would often boil mint for tea while occasionally using it as a soothing scalp rinse. All of these things played a role in the artist and visionary François would soon become. By the time he was a teenager the young stylist was already working in a salon. At 17-years-old he won Newcomer of the Year at the Black Hair Sensationnel Awards in London, that would eventually lead him to find his calling — to help people understand and embrace their natural texture.
“Working in a hairdressing salon in London as a teenager, it was clear to me that people with kinky, coily and curly hair were not being shown the same love by the beauty industry as their friends with straight hair,” he says. “Choice was limited in many ways, language was often negative like ‘banish frizz’ or ‘fight unruly curls,’ and prestige home hair care for afro hair, loss and braids basically didn’t exist.”
After years of carving out a name for himself in the hair industry, working with Hollywood stars and becoming known for his show-stopping red-carpet styles, François turned his passion for embracing true texture into a haircare line that works for every hair type including straight, wavy, kinky, and coily. The line taken after his own name, is especially known for its conditioning sprays that deeply hydrate hair without weighing it down.
“My clients told me time and again they were fed up with having to go to an out-of-town store to find what they needed and didn’t want heavy formulas that weighed their hair down,” he says. “I realized it was up to me to create a line that my clients would love, as much as their kinks, coils, curls, and waves would too.”
“The beauty landscape through the pandemic has seen more people wanting to embrace what is naturally theirs, instead of trying to change or suppress it, whether gray, very curly, [or][or] thinning. People are getting to know, understand, accept and love their hair in its most authentic state. It tickles me because I’ve always said to my clients that it’s fine to manipulate your hair’s texture but loving what you have first is what’s important.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business?
There have been more challenges along the way that I’d ever imagined! Being a young, Black, independent, dyslexic, entrepreneur has meant I’ve had to be laser focused on my vision and what it is that I want to achieve. Not be swayed by diversions or detractors. I always remind myself that each challenge is an opportunity to learn from, and if you do that, you’ll keep moving forward.
What has been the biggest win this far?
The most recent big win is being welcomed into the thirteen lune family, which I’m very grateful for and excited about. My products winning awards and being named an influential hairstylist are always pinch-me moments. Also, people telling me on social how something I’ve created or shared has improved or enhanced their life in some way are always truly meaningful wins.
What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry when it comes to diversity and inclusivity?
I’d like to see all hairdressers being trained in working with all hair textures. I’d like to see more people from different backgrounds participating and being enabled to participate in learning and decision-making environments. I’d like to see everyone, whatever part they play in the industry, take personal responsibility to make change happen and lead by example. There are plenty out there talking the talk but real change needs real action. Also, let’s be mindful that diversity and inclusion extends beyond skin tones and hair textures like making content accessible for deaf individuals. Include everyone who wants to learn, work, be seen, and be part of the conversation.