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Meet Amiena Hartley - hairstylist to the stars

Amiena Hartley is a Cape Town-born celebrity hairstylist and entrepreneur who started her own hair empire, Exclusive Hair Collection, after working in prominent hair salons. Her magic was discovered on the set of our June Disruptors Issue featuring Sarah Langa.

The two work closely as Sarah is a brand ambassador for Exclusive Hair Collection. Amiena is transforming a lot more than hair these days. Discover how she's redefining the role of salon owner and hairstylist while maintaining two leading branches in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Image: Zander Opperman

How did you get your start in the industry?

From the age of 14, I was doing hair for the aunts down the street in my community for events like Christmas, birthdays, and Eid. Like an undiscovered talent, I've always been unaware of my passion for hair. After completing my entrepreneurial development program at the Graduate School of Business (UCT) a few years later, I discovered my passion for hair. Due to the financial constraints of my family, I started working in the hairdressing field quite late.

I was about 25 when I began to pursue a career in hairdressing with passion. I started my own corporate hair salon around 2014, after graduating from the College of Cape Town. The time I spent working in this space made me realise that my creative juices weren't flowing as they should, despite growing two corporate salons.

It is also here that I identified that the lack of knowledge regarding good and sustainable hair care is not being provided, and after I finished doing my clients hair, I was not satisfied with the result, I wanted more to complete the look and feel I knew was desired. I then travelled abroad sourcing for hair suppliers all in aid of finding the best hair quality suitable for my client’s needs and making it affordable to them.

You’re known for your work on TV, influencers and Fashion Weeks. What would you say you most enjoy about your career?

Being behind the hairdressing chair is my absolute happy place. The art of giving someone a makeover and witnessing the joy on your clients faces when they see the results is what I live for. This instant gratification and the transformational impact of my work is truly rewarding.

Creating a safe space in my salons for these transformations to take place is what I strive for. It is also a skill I take with me when I work on set and backstage. It gives me freedom to explore and create looks with designers and set directors.

Image: Supplied

Looking back at your career, what would you say was your most life- changing moment or experience?

Starting my business Exclusive Hair Collection, I introduced my product to Cape Town, expanded to JHB . I changed the way I provided services, and learned how to make my product viable and marketable.

It can be a challenge for hairstylists to find education on textured hair. What did you find to be the most successful when learning and refining your skills?

Working with reputable product houses is essential because it enables us to keep updated and educated about newly released goods. It also enables us to upskill ourselves—myself and my staff—since we are a teaching salon and take pride in staff development.

What are your top five hair product essentials you can't live without ?

Obviously my Exclusive Hair Collection hair extensions, GHD hair straightener, Goldwell Just smooth heat protect and Oil- Kerasilk defrizz treatment.

Image: Zander Opperman

What advice would you give to emerging female entrepreneurs entering the industry?

Be persistent in your beliefs as a business owner; during my business career, I frequently heard "no," but I always stuck to what I believed in. Keep going and keep learning if you want to be consistent. Believe in what you do, establish strong relationships, be open and honest at all times, and recognize the accomplishments of your peers.

Who are some other hair stylists you admire?

Chris Appleton -Styling

Sarah Page- hair extensions /micro wefts

Emchem hair – Balayage specialist

Salome De wet - Master colorist (GOLDWELL)

What is next for Amiena and Exclusive Hair Collection ?

Short-term, we would like to expand the EHC experience around the country. In essence, we would like to be global (mic drop).


IG @exclusive_hair_collection

JHB - 160 Jan smuts drive Rosebank (064 907 3081)

CAPE TOWN - 37 Durham Avenue Salt River (072 805 4969)

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