Lagos Born Marlene Abuah shares makes ‘Hairstory’ in the finals for BBC’s HAIR, a national UK competition to find Britain’s next amateur hair stylist.
Marlene Abuah is a Hair and Make-up artist based in the UK. Her company, Natural Gloe, specialises in capitalising on the uniqueness of every individual when creating hair and beauty solutions for every occasion. With over 15 years of experience styling for photo shoots, weddings, film and TV, Natural Gloe never compromises on perfection when it comes to giving clients what they want.
Marlene was born in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to the Uk at the tender age of 6. She discovered her passion for styling hair from a young age and started charging her friends to braid their hair. It wasn’t long before she began to feel pressure from her parents to get a “real job”, so she decided to follow another career path and ended up studying Finance.
She later started banking in New York and found that it stifled her creativity. She stated – “I had to express myself through my hair; I was the girl in the suit with the massive afro.” She then left the finance world and returned to the UK where she discovered that hair was her main passion. Marlene is an African hair braid expert and wig maker who specialises in working with natural hair and always likes her creative hairstyles to stand out.
- How hard was it to leave behind the stability of a career inbanking for a creative career in hair?
For me, there was nothing stable about being in an industry where I clearly did not fit in, so in all honesty, it was a very easy decision from the moment I realised I wan’t living. Taking the risk meant leaving behind a life of mediocrity and finally doing what came naturally, makes me happy and allows me to have an impact on peoples lives.
- What would you say is your signature hair style?
Definitely my short platinum blonde cut. I love the colour and the ease of taking care of short hair, I can be ready and out the door in less than half an hour and still look fly :-).
- How do you juggle motherhood and Natural Gloe?
Its not easy at all, but thats the difference for me between having a job and building my brand. I can work at my own pace, in my own time, but family always comes first of course. When you do a job you love, you never work a day in your life, so if it means staying up for hours after bedtime, or getting up at 4am to work, then so be it.
- What is natural Gloe?
Its a very simple play on words with quite a deep meaning. Gloe (pronounced “Glow”) stands for God’s Light on Earth, and we believe that no one client is the same, each one has something completely unique about them, that comes naturally, their own “light”. Therefore, we endeavour to provide that client with a service that is naturally tailored to them. Its all about a providing each and every client with the best personal service possible, that they leave rejuvenated, encouraged and most importantly they are GLOWing and feeling AMAZING.
We also promote the benefits of being natural, from eating organic and whole foods, the importance of exercise to looking after your natural skin and hair. Whatever you use, on your hair, skin to what you eat, consider the effects it may have on your body before doing it. Without sounding too preachy, I myself have been guilty of buying expensive branded clothes and shoes, but look for the “cheap” options when it comes to what I use on my skin. I guess the message I’m trying to get across is that we only have one life one body, look after it. All these aspects culminate to looking and feeling great.
- What’s next for marlene in the coming 18 months?
I’m currently working on my own brand of hair products and training up a team to work with me in my London based salon, which is coming very soon.
- Will you return to Nigeria to showcase your hair styling?
I expect to do so very soon, currently looking for the perfect opportunity, so any offers are welcome 🙂
Catch up on BBC iPlayer or iTunes to watch Marlene in action, designing hair sculptures for Bridal, Theatre and Hi-Fashion.
Interviewed by Dr Clare Eluka, Pride Beauty and Business writer