A group of hairdressers from hu•MANE went to Uganda to help a group of beauty school students do their first photoshoot.
A group of hairdressers from hu•MANE went to Uganda to help a group of beauty school students do their first photoshoot.

“We really didn’t know what we were walking in to,” Danielle Keasling, Matrix Global Artistic Director, Great Lengths Executive Director and Ulta Beauty Pro Team member, said when asked what it was like on her recent trip to Uganda. “We thought we were going to do hair for some fashion shows and then go do a simple training at a local beauty school. It ended up being so much more.”

Keasling was in the small east African country, best known for its mountain gorilla population and breathtaking Murchison Falls National Park, with a group of U.S. hairdressers who were there to work at Kampala Fashion Week. Once the shows wrapped up, the artists extended their trip to work with aspiring hairdressers as part of hu•MANE, Beauty For Change charitable organization. hu•MANE was founded by Ammon Carver, Cristin Armstrong and Manny Rolon, with the goal to provide beauty services and education to underserved communities. Partnering with the U.S. based Paper Fig Foundation and LDJ Productions, hu•MANE organized the trip, adding Keasling, Jess Cleaver and Chris Damulira to the roster.

After spending a full day training at the school in Mityana, the future professionals, along with the U.S. hair team, took day two to the streets for a photoshoot to utilize their new skills, using local models and fashion designers as their inspiration. The experience was so extraordinary that the group kept shooting and shooting, capturing just some of the images in this feature. “Our goal was to show Chris, the school’s director, how to use existing talent and build a team so he could do this on his own to both educate and get more exposure,” Keasling says. “These hairdressers are so passionate but need to learn how to make this a profitable profession and how to be valued. Doing a photoshoot is one way to do that. They really didn’t need the technical training but needed the guidance on how to take that God-given skill to the next level.”

The bigger picture, according to Keasling, is that they are trying to get as much visibility as possible by having their work published internationally. “There are so many limitations in Uganda. Just importing products and tools is challenging. Chris had us working with the students to make them advocates for cosmetology in Uganda, and to make it better not just now, but for future generations of hairdressers.”

For Carver, the training and shoot covered many of the hu•MANE  bases. “Providing ongoing education for the stylists in Uganda felt like teaching them how to fish, rather than just feeding them fish - it made this trip unique and special compared to our others.” For Keasling, a born mentor, this photoshoot  was one of the most memorable of her life and will be cherished forever. “It was wonderful seeing the whole experience through their eyes.  We were there to train beauty school students, but they ended up teaching us as much as we were teaching them.“ 

MORE ABOUT Hu•Mane:

“Hu•Mane Beauty for Change was born from the hearts of three hairstylists working in NYC. Manny Rolon, Cristin Armstrong and me,” Ammon Carver, Ulta Beauty Chief Artistic Director, says. “We sat around talking about how we could set ourselves apart from other salons, and how we could authentically connect with our real purpose as hairstylists: to make the world a more beautiful place, one person at a time.”

Hu•Mane’s first trip took the artists to Mumbai, India, where they raised 25k for school/hygienic supplies for children living in the slums. “We also did over 400 haircuts for kids living on the streets there,” Carver says. “Most recently we shifted our aim to an amazing cause in Uganda, Africa. Our efforts as a group there had a three pillar focus: 1) educate hairstylists in the area, 2)provide haircuts and food/supplies for underprivileged youth living on the streets, 3) hire local talent to create an editorial piece that could be published and would draw attention to Uganda’s Fashion week...highlighting the work and extraordinary efforts that our partner non-profit organization, the Paper Fig, have already started by discovering models, fashion designers, and beauty professionals that dream of working outside of Uganda one day.”

According to Carver, getting involved with Hu•Mane is as easy as sending a quick Instagram message to @hu.mane_  “We pride ourselves in ongoing work locally here in the states. Then, about every other year, taking our scope to a bigger, global initiative.” For more details on how to get involved, visit humanebeauty.org

 All photos by Alim Karmali 

Hair by: Ammon Carver, Manny Rolon, Donna Rolon, Danielle Keasling, Cristin Armstrong, and Jess Cleaver; assisted by Chris Damulira

Makeup: Paramore Cosmetics

Fashion Designers: Gloria Wavamunno by Gloria Wavamunno; Catherine & Sons by Edward Sempa