From our archives. Throwing it way back to when we started.
Born in North London to Jamaican parents, Angela Plummer started her career at a tender age only as a hobby not realising it would one day be the making of her. With aspirations of being a fashion designer when growing up, the hair world was nothing more than just a play time fantasy. But this play time hobby is what has shaped her into the renowned, highly talented and crafty individual she is today, bagging her eleven award honours which celebrate and acknowledge her outstanding contribution to the beauty and hair industry over the years.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Angela about how she started, the early years and some of the challenges she faced whilst working hard to get to where she is in her career.
When did you discover you had such an amazing skill, the ability to turn hair into wearable art form?
I discovered my skill at the age of ten when my mum fell ill and could not cater to our hair needs and up keep. I realised I had to take the reins after a while that I couldn’t keep my hair as messy as it used to get and also that of my siblings so it kind of pushed my curiosity into wanting to learn how to take care of little things like that. It also took the burden off my mum as she was not in the position to do it due to her illness. I am happy to say my mom is still here with us and fully recovered from her illness now.
Wow, at the age of ten? That is amazing. Great to hear your mom is strong and back on her feet. I wish her many more years of great health and wonderful memories.
Thank you so much.
Did you get any encouragement from family and or friends to pursue your skill further or was it stifled?
Well at that tender age, I guess it wasn’t frowned upon as it was not a bad thing but a positive skill to have and I was also helping my mom in a way by taking that strain and worry away knowing that her kids still came out looking well groomed. So it wasn’t stifled in any way. I did not let it cloud my ambitions in life or anything of such. I just did it as a hobby. But that hobby soon turned into a passion. A passion I sought every chance I got to perfect and soon became the beginning of a life long journey. Through this journey, I have enjoyed an endless amount of support and encouragement from my family and friends to the extent of even getting my mom to model for me on numerous occasions (you’ve got to love family and friends). They have stood by my dream and passion and I am grateful to have such a support system.
So tell us what you did before fully submitting to the wonderful joys of hair artistry
I worked full time in Selfridge’s food hall for a number of years. The hardest part of working there at that time was trying to find the means and ways to turn my passion for hair into a career path. But one day whilst listening to a song by Macy Gray, I up and quit my job of seven years. That song gave me the push I needed. The lines of the song were;
“Get up and do something. Don’t let the days of your life just pass you by cause you never really know till you try”. And I guess she was right because I did not know until I tried and the risk paid off.
And that is one huge risk to take. Are you happy you made the switch? Can you enlighten us on your decision to follow your passion into hair art?
Yes I must admit I am very happy I made the switch as it’s not everyday you get to fulfil your childhood passion. But I must stress that making that switch was not easy at all. Leaving my job was the easy part. The hardest part for me was finding a way into the industry. That wasn’t easy. After a few weeks of trying and getting no where, I called up a UK based magazine and asked if they would feature my work. I was lucky I made that call because that was my very first magazine spread which has opened numerous doors of opportunities for me. Before I knew what was happening, I was working as a freelancer.
How do you keep your ideas fresh and unique? Where does your inspiration for a collection come from?
I keep my ideas fresh and unique by mainly free styling my collections. Inspiration can come from anywhere really. I could be listening to music or watching something on telly that could trigger an idea. I could be in a foreign country and the beauty of it or something unique from that area could catch my eye thus giving me an idea to work on. So really inspiration comes from anywhere for me. I take everything I see around me with a critical eye because you looking at it differently from others could trigger and idea that no one has ever thought of.
What motivates you to get up in the morning and do what you do with such passion, dedication and perfection?
OMG! (LAUGHS OUT LOUD) The truth is I love what I do. I love it so much that I don’t know what I would do if I was never able to do it again. Just the idea of being able to get up every morning to the structure of being my own creative master with free flow of ideas to create and make is a blessing and motivation enough. That is my greatest motivation. Peace and happiness in doing what I truly enjoy.
Who would you say inspires you or inspired you?
My Mum has always been my greatest inspiration. She inspires me the most. Her love and support has been unconditional and I am extremely blessed to have that. Not a lot of people have that sort of unconditional love. My son Remel who is a blessing to me also fills me with so much inspiration. Looking at him on a daily basis grow into a strong healthy child is a beautiful thing. That’s why I said to you, inspiration can come from anywhere for me and my son is one. Kids can do things or draw things that make you think ‘wow that could work for me’. Little things like that are very precious to me and I value them very much.
Who are your style icons when it comes to hair styling?
I can honestly say that I don’t have a style Icon within the hair industry. It’s not because I don’t think there are any, believe me there are a lot. But for me, I believe in focusing on the ideas within me because when you start idolizing another person’s work, you end up without even knowing emulating their exact style and way of doing things which can be detrimental to your own ideas and career in the industry because you end up not really bringing out fresh and unique ideas that are yours, instead, you deliver already seen type of work. That’s not good. The industry is too competitive for anyone to fall into that trap. That’s why I try to steer clear of all that. There is nothing wrong with admiring others and what they have done, but that’s where it should end. But within the fashion industry I can proudly say Alexander McQueen is my icon. His vision and creativity was beyond amazing and Sarah Burton and her team are doing an awesome job of keeping that vision alive. I believe like myself, McQueen thought outside the box and that enabled him to create such amazing one off piece.
Do you have a mentor? How important is it for people to have mentors, especially young creative? Does it help and would you advice it?
No! I do not have one. I have never had a Mentor but wish I did when I first started in the industry. I believe having a Mentor is very important as they are the people that advice you and direct you somewhat on how to move forward, how to approach things and educate you on getting into the industry. But unfortunately I have never had the opportunity of having a mentor.
I read in an interview you did with Fabafrique that you have a sponsor. Who is a sponsor and how important is it for creative individuals who are interested in following in your footsteps to get a sponsor?
Sponsor is very important to any creative person. Sponsors will come your way if they like what you do and they believe it will have marketable potential. As a hair stylist, I am a brand. So being sponsored by another brand will help to enhance and create awareness of your sponsor’s products as you will be mentioning them in everything you do. Hint, hint; Sensational Hair and Oh Yes Magazine are my main sponsors. And I am happy and proud to have them as my sponsors. are my main sponsors. And I am happy and proud to have them as my sponsors.
What are the roles of sponsors? For instance, what does your sponsor do for you?
It really depends on the type of sponsor you have. For instance one of my sponsors, Sensational Hair, I tend to call upon them whenever I need anything and they in turn enable me to head any projects they have no matter how huge the client is, which is a great bonus for me and also for them as well because they wouldn’t have to hire an outsider to come in and do it thus spending extra money when both the money and exposure could go to me. It’s a win win situation for both of us
Also some companies will send you freebies to use; if this happens often them you will forever have endless supply of products/gifts which is an added extra bonus and pecks of the job.
I can imagine that your career like all others definitely has its ups and downs. How have you managed to stay focused and keep going irrespective of the challenges that you face?
Yes there are definitely up’s and downs and they happen to everyone irrespective of what you do and where you do it. I have managed to stay focused because of the love and support of family, friends and some close industry creative’s who I can turn to whenever I find myself in a pickle or just feel low for any number of reasons. When you have love and understanding from the people that are meant to be your closets allies, you can face anything. You just need to always keep it in the back of your mind that problems will come, challenges will happen, you will fall, you will fail, but at the end of the day, as long as you are not dead, you can pick yourself back up, dust off the issues of yesterday and soldier on with a huge smacker of a smile on your face like nothing happened. These challenges are there to help you to analyse yourself and your growth both personally and professionally and you will be amazed the amount of change you will make and the discoveries you will uncover when you go through issues. They shape you mentally and emotionally to be able to move on to the next project you may have.
Hope you do not mind us asking, but what are some of the compelling challenges that you have faced over the years?
I will have to say ‘NEGATIVITY’. Constantly being told that I will not become anything or amount to much in the industry by doing what I do. I believe people will always be negative about things they don’t understand. I have learned to live with the fact that you can not please everyone. People will either like what you do or they wouldn’t and there will always be those that just hate on you for being good at what you do even though they do not or can never appreciate how hard you have had to work, the sacrifices you have had to make to get to where you are. I believe in me and I believe in my passion for hair and I let that transcend into my work. I never ever respond to hate or negativity verbally. That is just not me. I let my response show in my work as I get better and better each time. You can not let negativity and the people that propagate it destroy you. Let it destroy them because they obviously have nothing to do with their time and their lives so they will obviously try to destroy whatever joy you have in yours.
What advice would you give to others if they were faced with the same or similar challenges?
Turn a negative into a positive is the greatest advice I can give; in due course people will see your work for what it is. Let your work always speak. Do not do the talking with your mouth, do it with your skill. Nothing ever beats that.
On a whole you have had an amazing and successful career if we can say so, having worked with some of the greatest names that lived and some of the biggest clientele one could only dream of having. So where do you see yourself in the next five years? After this mount of success, there must be more in the plans?
Good question: Unfortunately I cannot answer this question, as I don’t know where my journey will take me in five years. My vision is for a daily progress. The dream is to be better every day that I put work out there. The work will determine the journey of the next five years. (SMILES)
Finally, what inspirational last word could you leave with us to keep us focused on our dreams and aspirations?
My advice to anyone that has a dream / passion would be to follow your heart and never let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your goals. Believe in your self first then others will believe in you, be the best you can be, fall in love with your chosen career and you will see that the smile will forever be on your face, but most importantly never let your career take over your life, have a balance.
Wow, great advice. Thank you for spending time with us. It’s been a great pleasure. Wishing you all the best for the future.
Thank you for having me; it’s been a pleasure. My Journey has not been an easy one, but it’s been a blessed one and this is only the beginning….
Interview by Thomasina R. Legend
Photography by Abi Oshodi @ao_photography
Hair Stylist & pieces by Angela Plummer @angelaplummer
MUA: Joy Adenuga & Valerie Saint-Ahmad
Models: Janita Francis & Symara Templeman @symaratempleman