Doreen Amateshe's work as a relations officer at the DusitD2 hotel in Nairobi calls for a neat look. "Because of work, I keep the braids for two to three weeks," she says. But she isn't conservative at heart. "When I was a student on campus, I'd do crazy colors, long braids."
With that in mind, Monroe delivered a nice compromise, keeping Doreen's neat top and adding a chic purple ombre ponytail.
She may look like a kid, but 27-year-old Vanessa Mdee rocks her gray locks with confidence. "Hair is the most important accessory," the MTV-Africa-nominated singer gushes.
"Braids are my favorite because I can feel my scalp." Her cousin talked her into the granny hue, which is nothing short of fabulous on Vanessa. Stylist Derick Monroe crafted a cool frontal swoop using the end of her high ponytail, along with a few bobby pins.
Belinda Joanna Mukamirwa is studying at Vera Beauty & Fashion College in Nairobi. Her twists include woolen threads that are popular in Maasai culture. "It's easy to maintain, easy to wash. I can blow-dry the twists or let them air-dry in the sun," adds Belinda. Monroe created a waterfall effect to Belinda's look with structured twists on one side and a pretty cascade of loose twists on the other.
Musician and budding comedian Koryan "Koko" Wright (Erykah Badu's lil sis) traveled with us to Kenya and, fortunately for us, allowed us to photograph these stunning braids for this story. We learned that she braids her own hair and taught herself how by watching her childhood stylist, Isis, work magic. Koko's super-long strands are the result of a secret lengthening technique, one of Isis's skillful methods. "These braids are part of my persona now," she adds. "I love my hair but I'm a germaphobe, so I dip the ends into a little bit of bleach and water [within a huge gumbo pot] two to three times a week," she reveals. Koko usually wears her braids loose and free-flowing, but Monroe talked her into trying these Pocahontas plaits with a little pompadour. "I like this look," says Koko.
Janet Wayua is also a student at Vera Beauty & Fashion College. She's a favorite braider among her peers (she braided Evelyn's hair) as well as her teachers. She has little time to fuss with her own hair, so she sticks to styles that can be completed in two hours or less, like this faux hawk. Monroe simply added a little sheen spray and kept it moving.
Like the other everyday beauties in this story, Diana Mbuba prefers braided looks that don't take all day in the salon.
The recent college grad and avid drummer is also Kenya's Miss Tourism Tharaka-Nithi County. Diana switches up her braided styles every two weeks and loves to experiment with color. Monroe added a braided crown to Diana's swirling corn-rows for extra flair.
We've included another Kenyan Miss Tourism delegate: Evelyn Arasa, a recent grad and future environmentalist. Janet Wayua (far right) braided Evelyn's gorgeous cornrows in about an hour and a half. She sees her every two weeks.
"I have complete faith in her. She does the teachers' hair, so if the teachers trust her she must be good." Monroe took the ends of Evelyn's braids and created a pretty pattern at the crown.