Vernon François is here to change the way the world thinks about — and markets to — people with curly hair. And kinky, coily, wavy, frizzy, braided and dreadlocked hair. On Monday, the English-born hairstylist (whose celebrity clients include Lupita Nyong'o, Karrueche Tran and Tracee Ellis Ross, to name a few) launched his eponymous hair-care brand with a full range of curl-focused products, online via Net-a-Porter and his own website. The goal? To be a one-man hair-care revolution.
"The whole reason why we're coming out with Vernon François hair [products] is because there's always been a lack of knowledge in [the textured-hair care] space; it's fair to say that many consumers and professionals lack confidence when it comes to textured hair," says François. He was born and raised in Huddersfield, in Northern England, and has the charming accent to show for it. He's also a natural red-head with an artful aesthetic and sense of personal style; just look at him in the photo above. He's striking in every way, and talking to him in person feels like sitting down with an enigmatic celebrity.
And yet, François has a humility that makes him refreshing. He started learning about and experimenting with hair at a very young age. "[Doing hair] was sort of my earliest memory," he says. "Those Sunday afternoons where you'd sit down with your family and everyone was preparing their hair for the week. My mom would be doing my hair; I would have been about eight or nine years old. And I wasn't particularly happy with the outcome. I'd be met with the words, 'If you don't like it, do it yourself.' So I kind of taught myself how to braid and do locs and twists by using drapes or anything I could find in the house that had fringe on it — I'd take the mop head into my bedroom." That passion became his calling, and at the age of 14, François began styling hair professionally, eventually making his way to a salon on Oxford Street in London. His background and confidence in working with textured hair made him stand out.
François sees his humble beginnings, being self-taught and other struggles he's faced — the fact that he's dyslexic — as his strengths, enabling him to problem-solve and think creatively. "It allows me to be more visual when approaching everything in life," he says. So in creating his line of products, clarity was key. "I really went back to basics and had a lot of conversations with my clients, just trying to understand where their frustrations were. For most of them, it was because they didn't have the knowledge, and more importantly, didn't have the confidence, when they were styling their own hair." The products are categorized by hair type and texture and identified with icons and colors for quick visual accessibility.
The line includes shampoos, conditioners, styling products, treatments and finishing sprays, as well as what François credits as the first-ever luxury hair product created specifically for the care and maintenance of locs and braids. "Everything is versatile," he says. "It's really important to know that the brand in its entirety is designed to manage textured hair, the full range of textures... It's not about ostracizing anyone out, and that's why it was really important to me to include braids and locs."
François is trying to build a luxury hair-care brand, sure, but he's also trying to change the conversation surrounding textured hair and embracing what he considers "a genetic gift." "Curly hair consumers don't know how to manage their own hair because they've always been told, 'Your hair's too coarse, your hair's thick, it doesn't do what it should do. It's frizzy, it's not as versatile,'" he says. "I'm really excited to start to actually engage with the consumer and let them know that it's okay to love your texture and be confident. Hopefully we'll start to build that confidence back into the curly hair consumer."
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