Vernon François (@vernonfrancois) is a bit of a natural hair wunderkind. He had his first Saturday job when he was 14 years old at a salon in central London, and it was there he noticed clients who wanted to change what they were born with and how straight and wavy textures were favored in product ranges.
“I would be called on for my opinion when a curly hair customer came to the door,” François says. “I loved doing all hair, but coils, kinks and curls were where some of the pros were less experienced. I could see there was a knowledge gap I could help address, even at that young age.”
While this internationally acclaimed hairstylist didn’t intend to choose beauty as a career, it became the space where his self-taught skills could shine. “Growing up in a Rastafarian household having hair done for the week ahead was uncomfortable, and the finished result wasn’t even that great! I knew there must be pain free ways of doing it. I taught myself how to braid loc and twist using anything tasseled, like unravelling cords on the mop head. I taught myself to blow dry using a fork and a broken hairdryer. Doing hair became my obsession, it filled every spare moment,” he explains.
All Hair Types Welcome
At age 17 he won his first award, and word spread quickly about his talents. “I recognized that I was perfectly placed to bridge the gap in the market of individuals with curly and afro textures not being shown love,” François says. “As a young, Black, gay man in the UK finding investors willing to back me, who would allow me to keep full creative control, was a challenge. Eventually the capital was raised, I put a team in place, and within five years VERNON FRANÇOIS® Haircare was born.”
But the brand founder reveals that funding has always been a struggle. “I did a friends and family raise, and as a majority Black-owned business with a large proportion of female and LGBTQ+ investors I am yet to meet the VC partner to continue the journey with, with shared goals and aspirations.”
François helps individuals all over the world embrace the shape, volume and personality of their hair’s true texture. His products are also simple to navigate with visual icons he created thanks to his dyslexia – something he thought would hold him back in his career. “Aligning with Redken as a global consultant, celebrity hairstylist and educator is a highlight that is hard for me to register at times,” he says.
François mentions his new role as Global inclusivity advisor and educator for Kérastase, which will help equip hairdressers to unlock their own potential, enabling clients to embrace the beauty and versatility of their hair's texture. “In our world today where more than two thirds of women have these hair textures it makes excellent business, ethical and professional sense. All hairdressers should be able to work with all hair textures. This has been a long time coming and I can’t wait for the world to see what we have in store.”
These days François lives in Los Angeles, spends time with family, roller skates to switch off and stay fit, and continues to work with A-listers including Serena Williams, Lupita Nyong’o and Willow Smith as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after hairstylists.
We ask François where life could have taken him if he hadn’t fallen into beauty. “My ferocious memory and problem-solving skills would make for an excellent forensic scientist. Or travelling the world documenting nature would be amazing,” he replies.
Instead, we’re so thankful for his place on the global stage teaching humans to love and respect their hair texture.
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