‘My Sisters’ by Jacqueline Kankam-Hoppe at Karine Jackson Sustainable Hair salon

Four images of models with textured hair, featuring braids, bantu knots and afro hair

October is Black History Month in the UK, and to mark the occasion and celebrate the beauty of Black hair, Karine Jackson Sustainable Hair salon in Covent Garden hosted an event on 20 October to showcase a new collection of photos produced by their graduate stylist Jacqueline Kankam-Hoppe.

The collection, titled ‘My Sisters’, was created to champion the history behind and diversity of Black hair, and features four images with models sporting traditional Black hairstyles; braids, twists, bantu knots and natural Afro hair. It is Jacqueline’s first solo shoot, was produced entirely by her, and each look was created to tells its own story while exploring the history of Black culture.

Throughout October, the Karine Jackson salon account on Instagram has also been sharing more information about the collection, and providing insights from Jacqueline on the inspiration behind her work.

“This collection (celebrates) sisterhood, togetherness, love and escapism,” she explains in one caption. “During slavery, Black women would plan routes to escape the plantation sites by braiding patterns into their hair so that they could meet up at a rendezvous.”

“Each and every hair design was created with the concept of escapism in mind,” Jacqueline adds, detailing how landmarks and waypoints were represented in hairstyling code. “For example, every dreadlock was intricately looped to form patterns on a tree. The designs in the cornrows and bantu knots I’ve created depicts the paths, crossings, bridges and lakes, while the Afro style symbolises freedom at the end of the road.”

The wardrobe was also carefully selected: “The choice of white attire links to my Ghanaian culture. I am of Ashanti tribe, and Ashanti people (Asante fuo) wear black and white when someone passes away to celebrate their life. Because of this, I decided to go with the white tops to pay respect to all of the heroic souls that lost their lives during slavery.

“The white also signifies purity and a brighter, more optimistic tomorrow,” Jacqueline explains. “I decided that all of my models would wear gold accessories because they are often worn to show wealth, class and power in Africa.

“Gold is mostly worn by royalty in Ghana,” she adds, “and so I wanted my sisters to wear gold to show off their roots and to emphasise that our hair is our royalty: not a commodity, but our lineage.”

Jacqueline’s boss and salon owner, Karine Jackson, is keen to stress the importance of not only championing young talent, but giving Black hair the platform it deserves within the British Hair Industry. Her business, alongside Errol Douglas London, is one of the first to have been awarded new Black Hair Excellence accolade from Good Salon Guide in recognition of their expertise across all hair textures.

“Jacqueline’s achievement is remarkable and I am thrilled to have been able to support her with this launch,” said Karine. “Black hair is an integral part of society and is under-appreciated.”

During the evening showcase, a poetry recital also took place, with Bethlehem Wolday-Myers reading her powerful poem, titled Not Just Hair. A copy of the piece, which details the artist’s evolving relationship with her hair and its ties to her identity, can be found below.

Not Just Hair
Snapped hair bands
I always need a few
To contain and scrape back
My unruly, curly, untamed
The crown and glory
Speaks volumes to my story
Once burnt and cut
So I could feel like I was one
Of the many, pretty white girls
Their long and straight hair
Made me feel it was unfair
They could style it with ease
Whereas every morning
I sat between knees
Oiled and slicked scalp
Furrows of cornrows
One big Black cloud
Tied tightly and hidden
So I could blend with the crowd
I now honour the fact
That my ancestry’s loud
In the curls that I carry 
Pride is what I feel
When I see my sisters natural
Small tight coils 
Usually 4C girls
S shaped springs 
For my 3B kings
Locs and twists
Braids and wigs
Black girls
Black people
Creative and spectacular 
Bold and beautiful
Our hair is not just hair
Tender and soft at the touch
Creams, oils, puddings
To maintain and protect 
Our sweet smelling 
Aromatic Afro’s
Bonnets, hair wraps, du rags
Silk scarves and satin pillowcases
The finest art
Must be handled with care

Hair image credits
Hair: Jacqueline Kankam-Hoppe
Photography: Sade Russell Blake
Make-up: Charlotte Lakin

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