Interview with Angela Plummer
Angela Plummer is an International Multi Award Winning Avant Garde Hair Artiste. In 2014 Angela Plummer was honoured with, Artistic Creative Braids Awards, for her contribution to the hair industry. Ever since Angela’s decision to go into full-time hairdressing 15 years ago, her brand has gone from strength to strength. She has taken the hair and fashion industry by storm with her intricate and stunning braiding designs. Her artistry is unique, inspiring and amazing. Angela shares with us her journey into the hair and fashion industry.
Who is Angela Plummer?
My name is Angela Plummer. I call myself a hair artiste rather than a hairstylist.
How did your journey begin?
I started hairdressing at the age 10, when my mother became ill. To be honest, at the beginning I wanted to be a fashion designer I wasn’t interested in hair. My passion was for fashion because my mother was a fashion designer and a seamstress. She made all her own clothes. When my mum fell ill, I had to take care of all the hair care needs at home which I absolutely hated at first but over the course of time my passion for fashion faded and my passion for hairdressing took over.
How did you enhance that passion for hairdressing?
Hairdressing was always a hobby for me. Often after work, my friends would come to my house to get their hair done. I never really started doing hairdressing professionally until I was 31. I was curious as to where my gift would take me and what the response will be. I began working for a number of salons until I was able to setup my own in 2002.
How easy was it to be accepted in mainstream hairdressing?
I would say it was 50-50. The positive side of being accepted in mainstream hairdressing was finding my niche. I had to find a way to fit into an already saturated market with so many amazing established hairstylists. My niche was specializing as a men’s only hairstylist as there weren’t many females in that area. Five years on from firmly establishing myself, I would often get lots of phone calls from women wanting me to do their hair too so I decided to incorporate women’s hairstyling into my business. The challenging side was the negative comments that came my way. At that time I was only working with natural hair and doing braiding. I was told that, I wouldn’t make it in the industry by only focusing on natural hair and braiding. Also as a business owner the most challenging issue I faced was finding good staff, which in the end resulted in me running the business for 2½ years on my own. Unsure of what’s best, I made the difficult decision to close the business. Looking back, that was one of the best decisions I had ever made. I then became a full-time freelance hairstylist, styling hair live at corporate events and for celebrities.
Was that the point where you were inspired to be much more creative with the braids?
At that point I wanted the Angela Plummer brand to be noticed. I decided to enter competitions and by doing so I had to put myself into a creative space and think outside of the box to produce notable work.
I started to develop hairpieces but noticed they weren’t stable on the model’s head, so over the years I developed the skill-set for balancing and stabilising the hairpieces on the head. Once I was comfortable with that side of my journey, the love for fashion started to come back and I thought to myself, how am I going to merge the two? Then the idea of making clothes out of 100% synthetic hair came into being. My clothing line is called Braid Couture. I actually started Braid Couture 2 years ago and it has taken me 2 years to get the full collection. Promotion for Braid Couture started this year, 2015.
How are the hairpieces attached to the head?
The hairpieces can be secured with hairpins to your hair and it causes no damage to your hair.
How comfortable are the outfits?
Many people ask if the outfits itch? I tell them, it’s just like wool and it doesn’t itch at all. Anytime I’m doing a runway show, I can’t just be introduced as, “Angela Plummer showcasing clothing collection”. The MC has to physically hold up a bag of synthetic hair and explain what the collection is made from hair. At first glance you would not know that the outfits are made from braided synthetic hair.
Are your hairpieces and your Braid Couture Collection available for general purchase?
The hairpieces and Braid Couture can be purchased but mainly, they are made-to-order. I’ve had a few commissioned pieces and have sold some outfits. A Paris based Nigerian recording artist by the name of Asa wore one of my hairpieces for her album called Beautiful Imperfections. You can contact me by visiting my website.
It was really nice meeting you at Africa Fashion Week London. The dress you had on display at Africa Fashion Week London, was it from the Braid Couture Collection?
The piece you saw at Africa Fashion Week London was not part of the collection. I was contacted by Crystal Deroche who had an exhibition space called Afro Fusion at Africa Fashion Week London. She asked if I would like to get involved in that project and produce an exclusive piece specifically for Africa Fashion Week London. So that’s how that dress came about. I had only three weeks to create that dress normally it would take me 2 months to create. I produced that dress with the thought of it fitting into Braid Couture. At the start of 2015, I had 10 pieces. Now I’ve expanded it to 12 and I am hoping to expand it to 16 pieces by 2016. So far this year Braid Couture has been showcased in London, Martinique and Paris. So not only is Braid Couture drawing attention in the UK, it is also drawing attention internationally. However, where possible, we try to support as many events in the UK as this is my birthplace.
We are hoping to see you in the continent of Africa soon.
I have visited Ghana and I do cover many parts of Africa. I am hoping to showcase the Braid Couture Collection in the continent of Africa in the near future. Most of my networks and the team I work with are from various parts of Africa.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from my family.
What would you say to someone who is aspiring to be a designer?
I would say, follow your heart. Everyone has a passion, everyone has a gift, you just have to find it, embrace it and nurture it. Whether you were self-taught or you went to college to learn, be passionate, have self-determination and believe in yourself first. If you don’t believe in yourself then no one will believe in you. A lot of negative things do come my way but I turn them into something positive. Rather than feeling defeated and/or deflated, build up your strength and courage and show them that you believe in yourself. In time they will believe in you and your brand. It took seven years for people to believe in my brand and realise that Angela Plummer is still here fifteen years on. You need to remain humble, loyal and true to yourself. You also must embrace others. Personally, I have so many young people I mentor and now some of them are my assistants. I welcome their input and I also learn from them. They will be helping me in my next show. It is important to give back to the younger generation.
To see more designs and contact Angela Plummer visit her website www.angelaplummer.com
Reporter: Julianna Lewis