Celebrity stylist Vernon Martin might just be one of Washington, DC’s best kept secrets. The owner of Vernon Martin’s Salon has been creating hair magic for the past three decades, but has somehow managed to avoid the spotlight as a celebrity stylist.
“Most people, when they think of hairstylists, they think of LA and New York,” explained Vernon. However, he has styled the coifs of such celebs as Kerry Washington, Venus and Serena Williams and Shonda Rhimes. He is also the stylist behind gospel singer Erica Campbell’s new hair line, Erica by Erica Campbell, which offers high end vegan weaves and wigs. The master cutter is now coming from behind the chair to take the hair industry by storm with his hair company VeMa and partnership with Campbell.
We caught up with Vernon to talk hair trends and find out how he sources hair for the line and what the heck vegan hair actually is.
– Stephenetta (isis) Harmon
Hype Hair: We’d love to know more about the hair you’ve curated for Erica’s line. Can you tell us how you source it?
Vernon Martin: The best place to get the hair is India which is very hard to tap into [that market]. I had a friend out of LA who had met this guy whose family owns a factory in India. I went down [to Florida] and met him and I told him what I wanted and said the best hair I should get is vegan hair.
HH: What does it mean to be vegan hair?
VM: There is a particular town [we source from] where the people are all vegetarian. Where most people buy hair from people that will take a little hair from this country, a little hair from that country and and mix them all, we don’t do that. We are very careful about who we get the hair from. Everyone sells hair now — I wanted my hair to be different.
HH: So, it’s more than just what the hair donor eats?
VM: We deal with lifestyle, we deal with diet, we deal with the environment that they live in. We make sure that what we’re selling is what it says it is. We would never want you to come back and say this hair doesn’t seem right. It’s the best quality of hair you can imagine. The way we take the hair is eco-friendly and it does not hurt the person that we’re taking the hair from. The vegan hair comes off of people anywhere from 16-25 years old. With that, they don’t use a lot of chemicals. They hot steam it. They try to keep the vegan hair as unprocessed as possible.
HH: Do you only offer vegan hair?
VM: We also provide Malaysian, Peruvian and Brazilian hair. But let me add, that hair does not come from Brazil, it does not come from Malaysia, it does not come from Peru. There is no such thing! That hair is still Indian, but it’s mixed with other hair – just not animal hair!
HH: Given all the brands of weaves out now, how can you tell if it’s a “good” weave?
VM: You don’t know until it’s in your hair if it’s good. You don’t know until you get it and you put it in and then you’re like “okay this is some good hair!” It’s very trial and error. I always tell people you take a chance. We do the same thing with clothes. You just never know. I may buy a $500 coat and two months later I look and there’s a rip in it. But, then somebody else might buy the same coat and it does wonderful for them.
HH: What are some basic things to look for once installed?
VM: The hair should not ball up on you. Once it gets in your hair, you can tell how it flows, how it moves, if it gets stiff. If there’s a lot of shedding, that’s a problem. Our hair doesn’t have a lot of shedding and I can say that because now enough people have bought it and given [their feedback].