As we saw from Yusef Williams at Savage X Fenty and Ursula Stephen at several New York Fashion Week shows, hairstylists can truly make a show outstanding. But they can’t do it all alone. Whether they have to work on 30 models or 100, it’s a heavy lift that takes finesse, and a skilled team to pull off. That’s where people like Rochelle, Jennifer, Andrita and Karl come into play.

These stylists are just a handful of the talented artists in the business whose work you’ve seen, but whose name you might not know. They’re part of the heartbeat of the teams that keep fashion shows, photo shoots, and the like moving seamlessly. They don’t wear capes, but they wield them—that and a brush amongst other tools in their kit to keep Black hair flawless. They’re part of the change that we’re seeing in how all textures of Black hair are treated in those settings.

There’s still a lot of change that needs to happen, but these artists are moving us in the right direction. And today we honor them in celebration of National Hair Day.

Rochelle Walker

Walker backstage styling a model’s hair
(Courtesy Rochelle Walker)

Rochelle Walker has been in the beauty industry for 17 years. She discovered her love for beauty growing up in her grandmother’s salon. She worked on 10 shows for New York Fashion Week this season, including The Blonds and 85 Eldridge.

What was one of your most memorable moments in this business?

My most memorable moment came this season when I keyed my first show with my best friend Bibb Dickey III (@whoisbibb). It was such an amazing feeling with so much love and great vibes, it came out beautifully.

What’s something you think needs to change in the beauty industry as inclusion and representation are concerned?

I would love to see more diversity in the beauty industry overall. I believe I can help orchestrate this change with the platform I have and I am honored and grateful to do so. 

What’s your best hair hack that you created or discovered that never fails?

Listen to the hair where it naturally falls, know what the hair’s health needs are, and the best product for those needs.

Jennifer Covington-Bowers

Covington-Bowers styling hair behind-the-scenes
(Courtesy Jennifer Covington-Bowers)

Jennifer Covington-Bowers has been putting in work for several years, lending her treasured hands to fashion week both backstage and in the front row. After working for years in a salon she decided to pivot into editorial hairstyling, and made a name for herself by saying yes to everything. After wrapping shows at New York Fashion Week, including Oscar de la Renta, she headed to Europe to work on a handful of Milan Fashion Week shows this fall.

What was one of your most memorable moments in this business?

A season ago I decided to go to Europe, having never worked on any shows abroad and only speaking English. I booked a few shows before I left but the night before my flight I was released from those shows. I got to Paris and had fun but was a bit down. Then got asked if I was available, said yes not knowing what show, but just needed to do something so the trip wouldn’t be an epic fail. That show was Valentino couture with all these amazing models of color, [including] Naomi.

What’s something you think needs to change in the beauty industry as inclusion and representation are concerned?

More, more, more of us!

What’s your best hair hack that you created or discovered that never fails?

Section out and tie your hair up when you sleep. A silk pillowcase is a must, and tie a silk scarf under wool hats.

Andrita Renee

Andrita Renee taking a rare selfie on set
(Instagram/@andrita)

Andrita Renee has been working her magic for 10 years after dropping out of beauty school and sticking with hair. This past fashion week she wielded her brush and cape at several shows, including Christian Siriano, Jonathan Simkhai and Maki Oh.

What was one of your most memorable moments in this business?

This year I wrote and released a book called The Hairspray Diaries, about how to break into and succeed as an assistant in the world of celebrity and fashion hair. 

What’s something you think needs to change in the beauty industry as inclusion and representation are concerned?

I’d love to see more artists of color being tapped to key shows during fashion week!

What’s your best hair hack that you created or discovered that never fails?

A slick low ponytail is the most chic, inexpensive, low maintenance and universally flattering hair look you can find. 

Karl T. Payton

Payton styling a model’s hair during fashion week
(Courtesy Karl T. Payton)

Karl T. Payton has been in the industry for eight years. With a father and an uncle that are both hairstylists with their own salons, doing hair is in his DNA. But it was his friend Taja who helped land him his first magazine gig. During this past New York Fashion Week he worked six shows, including Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, and Marc Jacobs.

What was one of your most memorable moments in this business?

Four memorable moments stick out for me in my career, including getting my models.com database page and my mother seeing all my work thus far before she passed away last March. And recently having three separate covers for the September issue of Metropolis Report. I was in shock and filled with joy.

What’s something you think needs to change in the beauty industry as inclusion and representation are concerned?

Tokenism. I’ve seen so many times people of color only get hired on teams just to only do Black hair or cornrow hair and that’s it. They touch no other hair. I feel as though the [lead stylist] just does that to save face so there’s no backlash. Yes the models of color do appreciate someone that’s there to do their hair but at the same time you’re placing limitations on what we can do. I’ve been asked multiple times, ‘Do you do Black hair,’ and my responses is always [the same]. ‘I do hair period.’

What’s your best hair hack that you created or discovered that never fails.

When using a hair masque or protein treatment, use a little conditioner to help it get it all out. You never want to leave that on your hair because you can cause breakage overdoing it with a masque.

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