Source: Courtesy of amika
You might know Naeemah LaFond (@naeemahlafond) for her exquisite artistry as a stylist or for her presence on stage as an experienced educator or as an innovative leader in the beauty industry as amika’s Global Artistic Director, but you definitely know her as a champion of diversity and change after sharing her now viral guidebook on Instagram called ‘How Brands and Industry Decision Makers Can Support Black Hair Stylists.'
In the wake of national protests and intense furor over the death of George Floyd, LaFond’s guidebook was a long overdue wake-up call and education for individuals and brands alike, sparking much-needed conversation and a call for change especially within the beauty industry. “Our industry as a collective needs to do better,” says LaFond. “Our craft is owed that. Let’s do the work.” With racial equality and equity having long been an issue for beauty, LaFond’s guidebook is testament to her status as a first-rate educator, both in and out of the classroom setting, by raising awareness and challenging beauty brands, industry players and consumers to commit to meaningful change.
Q: Your IG guidebook for supporting Black creatives has gone viral, and has been a real education and wake-up call for the beauty industry. In what ways have you seen or felt the impact of your words since?
A: Right now, the impact that I feel the most is the collective sigh of relief from the hairstylists in the industry. A lot of people feel seen and supported by the words in the guidebook. It’s a real weight off my shoulders to have written and published the guidebook, and knowing that so many people have taken strength from it to use their own voices. It gives me hope that this conversation will not die down without the work being done to move our industry forward.
Q: To the people who look up to you around this time of the Black Lives Matter movement, what feels important for you to share with them?
A: It’s important for me to continue to be myself and live my truth while speaking to things that matter to me the most. I hope that, if anything, I can inspire you to perform small acts of activism in your own lives that help to bring forth positive change in your community. The Black Lives Matter movement is not just a protest, it’s an actual statement. Black lives matter. Not being racist isn’t enough. You have to be anti-racist. The world would be a better place if all humans could stand up for each other.
Q: As a long-time educator, you’ve seen what works, what doesn’t, what needs to be learned and everything in-between. What is the best way for beauty professionals to make the most of their education, time and money?
A: I think it’s important to identify your goals before you start investing in every class and learning from everyone who is teaching. People who haven’t gone where you want to go or don’t understand your goals may not have the answers that you are seeking. There is so much education out there, so it’s really important to set a clear path for what you want to do and where you are trying to go before you sign up for anything and everything. Your time is valuable. Think about it like college. There are so many different subjects taught in college, but you have to pick a focus and primarily take the classes that can get you to your degree. There has to be a plan, especially if you are paying for the education yourself.
Q: Balancing career and motherhood is an ongoing juggle for many working moms. As a dedicated mother and a successful stylist, do you have any advice for your fellow working moms for striking that balance?
A: I read something the other day by Nora Roberts that reminded me so much of my approach when it comes to ‘balancing’ career and family. “The key to juggling is to know that some of the balls you have in the air are made of plastic and some are made of glass. If you drop a plastic ball, it bounces, no harm done. If you drop a glass ball it shatters. So you have to know which balls are glass and which are plastic, then prioritize the glass ones.” I learned early on that everything related to motherhood isn’t a glass ball. It’s ok to drop some of those plastic balls. Life will go on. That goes the same for your career.
Q: Do you have any mantras or affirmations that you live by?
A: Everything that is for me will be mine. There are no missed opportunities in my book. I move through life knowing that the doors that didn’t open for me weren’t meant to open. I’ve come to learn that there’s usually a reason why things don’t go as you imagined them to. The universe usually has bigger and better plans.