In the Bluestocking club last week, we honoured a brilliant black poet — Phillis Wheatley Peters — the first woman of African descent to publish a book of poetry in Britain and the United Sates.
Modelling the bold, stripey stockings I designed for Phillis Wheatley Peters is Mimi Onyekwere, with whom we’ve enjoyed working on previous projects, such as our collection of glove, mitt, and mitten designs, Warm Hands
We love working with Mimi, and we are also big fans of her mum, Gloria: a super-talented businesswoman, craftswoman, and great friend of KDD. A contemporary bluestocking if ever there was one, we featured Gloria in our People MAKE Glasgow book, during the preparation of which Tom took a lot of photographs of Gloria and Mimi which I was very sad didn’t make it into the final pages. So here they are together: today’s contemporary bluestockings, Mimi and Gloria Onyekwere.
When Gloria Onyekwere came to Glasgow, the first thing to really strike her was the warmth of the city’s welcome. “People had time to stop and talk to me, to help me find my way,” she says, “it felt like a very different place to London.” Born and raised in northern Nigeria, Gloria discovered her exceptional talent for braiding as a young child, and by the time she left home for university, knew that she found working with hair much more creatively interesting than the legal studies her family wished her to pursue.
By the time that Gloria settled in Glasgow in 2006, she’d completed her training as a hairdresser, and quickly established an appreciative and diverse customer base of Scottish black and white women who loved her deft work with braids, weaves and extensions.
Black hairdressing is inventive, innovative, and highly specialised. . .
. . . Led by individual practitioners like Gloria, whose creative vision, originality and handiwork is prized and respected among their clientele, it bears all the hallmarks of a traditional craft industry, and yet is all too infrequently recognised as such.
Like all skilled craftspeople, Gloria creates extraordinarily beautiful things with her own hands, shares that creative work with others, and finds a rewarding joy in what she does.
But for Gloria, there’s a very particular joy in helping women discover or rediscover their own confident identities through their hair. . .
. . . Many cancer patients have come through the doors of Glow n Shine, and Gloria feels deeply honoured that the work of her hands can play a role in restoring women’s pride and dignity after illness: “it’s true what they say—hair is a woman’s crown.”
Currently investigating the options for further study at Glasgow Kelvin College, Gloria wants to add a range of new skills in beauty and cosmetics to her creative repertoire, with the aim of making Glow n Shine a one-stop salon for hair, make-up and nails.
Describing the city as a place which has fostered her business and helped it to really thrive, Gloria feels that Glasgow is a brilliant location to grow a small creative enterprise: “this is where I belong,” she says.
You’ll find the thriving local institution that is Gloria’s Glow n Shine Hair Boutique at 278 Gallowgate, Glasgow, and can read more about the city’s history (and future) as a place where small, creative enterprises like Gloria’s thrive in our People MAKE Glasgow book. Thank you Mimi for modelling our bluestockings so elegantly, and thanks Gloria, as always.