You know those insane braids that you’ve undoubtedly pinned, reblogged, screen grabbed, and saved into your “inspo” folder on your desktop? The ones that seem entirely impossible to replicate, look as if there must be at least three packs of extensions added into them, and probably took hours to perfect. Well, those boggling braids are most likely the work of Heather Chapman, and all of your assumptions—they’re wrong. I thought the same when I first discovered Heather’s Instagram profile, but after meeting her for the first time earlier this year at a Mane University class and seeing her work first hand I realized her braids are a product of pure skill and artistry.
I may not be a stylist, but I find Heather’s work absolutely fascinating and was thrilled when I got the golden ticket to finally attend her sold out Los Angeles class at The Hive LA.
She moves through the styles so smoothly and effortlessly that you can’t help but watch in awe as she transforms two simple rope braids into this:
Before each look that she creates Heather gives us a concept that she’s going to work towards. She tells us that she never goes into a style with a definite outcome in mind, but rather follows the natural patterns and flow of the hair to achieve the final look. We watch as she passes the hair from one side to the next, twists it to the left and then the right, stepping back and assessing the best position to find the perfect place to finally pin it down. She insists that you practice restraint when you see minor flaws in your work—overcorrecting one imperfection can throw the whole thing off. There are, however, times when she needs to tame some flyaways or a rogue strand and this is okay in Heather’s book. Just follow one rule— don’t use your fingertips! You’ve got product build-up, grooves in your finger print, dry skin, hangnails, and any number of things that can pull the hair back out of place after you’ve worked hard to smooth it over. Instead, use your tools, a rat-tail comb, toothbrush, or bobby pin to gently guide the hair back into place.
Something else that Heather stresses in her class [and I absolutely love that she does] is photography. You don’t have to be a professional to get a good shot of your work, you just need to know a few key points and tricks.
First thing’s first though, a great photo isn’t complete without assessing the full look. A quick wardrobe change and then our gorgeous model, Raciney, is in the makeup chair with the amazing Amy Clarke!
Now it’s time to move class outside! She takes Raciney to a white wall with natural day light. She shoots first and we all stand back and watch as she expertly directs Raciney to adjust her shoulders, look here, eyes over there. She sees everything in the frame and shows us how the little things make all the difference. When Heather gets her shot, it’s the classes turn to step up and get behind the lens. She helps guide, offers tips, and stays patient as all 20+ of us step up to get the shot.
This was definitely an info-packed class! If you can get your hands on a ticket to one of Heather’s classes as she tours the country, I would recommend it!