Essence of Ebony: Black Excellence Through Natural Hair Styling
Essence of Ebony
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As a natural hairstylist, Imani Powell understands the necessity of creating a nourishing environment for Black culture to grow and prosper. In this vein, learning how to love and care for one’s hair in its natural state fosters empowerment. Essence of Ebony, Powell’s hairstyling and salon experience for Black individuals looking to embrace the natural power and beauty of their hair, offers a community for those who may have never been comfortable wearing their hair in its authenticity. Where customized options catered to Black hair were limited, Powell saw an opportunity for societal and personal growth; Essence of Ebony provides a nurturing environment where curly hair is appreciated, acknowledged and admired for what it is. Powell says, “the name ‘Essence of Ebony’ epitomizes Black Excellence.”
Essence of Ebony as a hairstyling-teaching experience was almost never created. Powell, though enthralled with the arts, originally came to Salt Lake City with a different career path in forensic serology. “Officially, Essence of Ebony was born in June of 2020. I had no intention in launching my business that soon, and it wasn’t going to be focused on hair,” she says. “Day to day, I continued my work as a scientist and kept my artistry silent. A close friend found my old Instagram page, showcasing some of my hairstyling talent, and then word quickly spread across the state.”
“The name ‘Essence of Ebony’ epitomizes Black Excellence.”
Powell has built her craft throughout her lifetime, learning tricks of the trade from her mother who was a licensed cosmetologist and owned a salon for over three decades. Shadowing both her mother’s and other stylists’ techniques, Powell has grown extensively in the art of styling natural hair.
“I have over 10 years of direct experience styling in the natural hair industry,” says Powell. “As a stylist, I have learned that you are both a coach and a stylist. It is my responsibility to educate myself so I can better serve and empower my clients.”
To better serve her clientele’s individualized hair needs, Powell released The Crown, a personalized coaching experience that allows Black hair the space to accomplish healthy hair goals. Here, Powell has customized an educational, virtual experience—which can be conducted over the course of one day to six months—in which she sits with the individual one-on-one and provides hair coaching for clients to better understand their natural density, formation, style and texture.
She says, “I, as the head coach, will review the client’s goals and needs and design a plan for their hair journey.” Depending on the selected Crown service and the individual’s needs, Powell will provide a bundle of appropriate products, accessories, tools and materials. “I remove myself from the equation to give my client autonomy of their desired style,” she says. “Hair styling is more than just copying a style from Instagram—it’s about the person and what they want to feel like after they get their hair done. The intricacies can be added along the way, but I always take care of the person first, and I use my expertise and skills to accomplish their goals.”
“As a stylist, I have learned that you are both a coach and a stylist.”
For those just beginning their journey to healthy hair or who may be unsure of where to begin, Powell recommends focusing on the “why.” She says, “Our hair is a reflection of what’s happening not only on the outside of our bodies but on the inside as well. Reflect on your eating habits, water intake, physical activity, styling flaws, product ingredients and stressors. We can work on the outside if we start with the inside first!”
For Black individuals or for parents who are interested in trying to better understand how their child’s curly hair can maintain its health and balance, The Crown is a premium resource. As Essence of Ebony’s website mentions, “Imani is adamant about helping you enjoy and appreciate this journey of learning about your CROWN.”
While Powell teaches and consults clients virtually, she also offers in-person, salon services including individual braids, cornrows, two-strand twists, locs and coils. Powell can also style some services with extensions, though clients are required to bring their own pre-prepped extensions.
Powell does all of this as a team of one. Through her concentrated passion for styling hair in its natural, curly state, she provides a unique, empowering environment for Black individuals to feel comfortable and celebrated throughout their hair journey. “Essence of Ebony offers a deeply–rooted Black experience,” she says. To ensure the best products are offered to clients while also supporting the Black community, Powell purchases all of her wares from Black-owned businesses.
“Hair styling is more than just copying a style from Instagram—it’s about the person and what they want to feel like after they get their hair done.”
To expand on this environment of comfortability, Powell reassures that clients know she accepts their hair in its most natural state. “Blow drying, flat ironing, relaxing and any additional heat or chemical treatments are not required or suggested to book an appointment,” she says. “It can be cumbersome for Black individuals in Salt Lake City and surrounding areas to locate a stylist educated in the science and styling of Black hair, let alone [find] a Black stylist. My goal was to create an environment where people could relate to their stylist and receive hair care with their best interest in mind.”
Black hair—as well as all of the nuances of Black culture and the arts—are welcomed with open arms in Powell’s company. She says, “Essence of Ebony was created for us to feel seen and loved in the purest and highest form. Black culture plays such an imperative role in this world, and I want to represent us, naturally and powerfully.”