Meet Yene Damtew, The girl behind celebrities’ great hair styles and personal hair assistant to the Obama family.
Throughout Michelle Obama’s time in the White House, we have been dazzled by her wisdom, grace, service, and, That HAIR.
Her black tresses are literally the crown on her head, with each strand glimmering with health and prosperity.
Given that Michelle is the first Black woman to ever grace the halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, we’ve been wondering, did she bring a Black hair stylist into the White House with her?
Most people know of Johnny Wright, the hair stylist behind some of Michelle’s most memorable looks (including last night’s at the DNC), but Yene Damtew is the queen of the flawless color execution you see on the first lady’s hair. She’s also the stylist for the Obamas’ daughters, Sasha and Malia.
Immediately following cosmetology school, Yene launched her career as the executive assistant to celebrity hairstylist Johnny Wright. Less than six months after her apprenticeship began, the La Palma, California native packed her bags, and moved to Washington, DC with Wright after he became the personal hair stylist to First Lady Michelle Obama.
Under his tutelage, Yene developed a skill for combining a “’Good’ Hair is Healthy Hair” philosophy with modern style. Yene specializes in color and hair weaving techniques. And, her work has gained her a celebrity clientele of her own.
Yene’s energetic attitude and go-getter work ethic has also garnered the attention of other beauty industry professionals. She has consulted a number of budding entrepreneurs on developing and executing improved operational procedures to achieve their organizational objectives.
The talented hairdresser talked about what it’s like to style such high-profile clientele:
“I’m humbled, and it’s a lifetime experience. Johnny [Michelle’s primary stylist] saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. And there was something he helped cultivate to make me the woman that I am. It’s an honor.”
She also takes a holistic approach to hair care, recommending that Black women keep their bodies healthy to encourage healthy hair growth.
“Healthy hair is good hair is my philosophy. Make sure you’re healthy. Exercise, make sure you’re drinking enough water, and you’re iron and vitamin C levels are where they need to be. There are a lot of fads and people are quick to say, ‘If I take this, my hair is going to grow.’ But everyone’s body is different. Make sure you’re working with a hair stylist and your doctor to figure out — if there is something going on in your hair, there’s probably something going on internally. Make sure you are healthy in all aspects of your life.”
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