What do braids and a degree in business administration have in common? Jahmai Lumpkin. If you didn’t know by now, Jahmai is commander in chief to an army of braided manes marching out of Los Angeles’s Goo Salon. While some consider her an under-the-radar stylist, her braids beget anything but. Cornrows that form hashtags, spiders, and the Venus symbol, Jahmai’s designs will make you do a triple take. Born into a mane-minded family, Jahmai jumped at the opportunity of building a business after the braids she gave a friend in high school had everyone buzzing. It was $20 per head after that, and she’s braided her way up since then, giving Rita Ora neon yellow cornrows, turning Party Next Door into a blonde and keeping Post Malone’s mane looking fresh. Scroll ahead to read our interview with the braid buff and boost your braid-spo like never before.
How did you get your start in the industry?
My mom and all my siblings do hair so I was kind of birthed into it.
You mentioned you started braiding in high school.
I had a friend who asked me to braid his hair and when he went back to school, literally everyone was like, “How much is that?” I was like oh, I can get paid for this. That’s how it all began.
How much were you charging people in high school?
Did you assist anyone?
I think the person I assisted the most was my sister because anytime I wasn’t in school, I was on set with her.
How did assisting effect your career?
It definitely helped. Even now, I learn so much from other stylists about things I don’t even think to do. How to do one style, there’s another way to do that style. Someone might show you an easier way or a trick that you don’t know off the bat.
If you weren’t a stylist, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be in commercial development real estate. It’s not creative-forward but I love business and developing projects.
How has your degree in business administration helped you further your career as a stylist?
It’s definitely made me more professional. A lot of people like that I take it very seriously. It’s helped me organize myself and talk to people and write proposals for different things.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
I’d say the feature that ELLE Magazine and InStyle did of me. Between InStyle and ELLE, I got a lot of publicity. InStyle found me through Rita Ora and ELLE found me on Instagram. I was really excited about those two.
Extensions or braids, which service do you prefer offering?
I like them both for two totally different reasons. I like extensions because I like to deal with real hair, flowing down, and I get to style it without having to worry about cutting or coloring. I feel like I have more freedom with extensions. I love creating braid styles.
Which hair trend do you never want to see again?
There’s been a lot of controversy over the name of braids. I know braids through corn rows, Dutch braids, French braids. It gets really strange when people re-name them. I think braids are braids and people should just call them braids.
Which braids do you get the most requests for?
I would say cornrows. People like cornrows because they like the braid to sit on the top of their head versus inside of their head.
If you could do anyone’s hair, dead or alive, who would it be?
Rick James’s hair because he’s my ultimate favorite with the most hairstyles and braid styles ever. I would do some crazy braids. In 2016, you gotta have the bling with the gold and I feel like he’d be a person I’d add jewelry to, fully blinged-out.