Published on www.donnakakonge.com November 2005
By Donna Kakonge
On my way to Urban Textures Salon on 44 Gerrard St. W., I lost the hat that was covering the recent and awful weave I had received. It was an afro weave, done with synthetic hair, but I came with great expectations to put my head in the hands of Urban Texture’s owner Christos Cox and his team.
He’s come a long way from his first salon in Glendower. The décor of the place is welcoming, down-to-earth and warm.
“Everyone comes in here and they feel comfortable,” says Cox. “We put a lot of effort into creating the atmosphere of the salon – everything from the colours to the logo on our shirts.”
Rose Hibbert the weave specialist took out the synthetic hair out so fast; I barely knew what was happening. My hair has not been chemically-treated in more than a decade, but I have been wearing synthetic extensions off and on and five wigs – one of them which claim to be human hair by the woman who sold it to me.
During my consultation, Cox’s analysis of my hair is that based on what he could see is that I’m a natural, an earth lover; I have a love for the natural. But, he said my vice could be colour. (My natural colour is jet black)
“You could go two, three textures and it would look softer and something that matches your undertones. The mahoganies the reds, the dark, dark blondes would all be good.”
He approved of my image to stay true to myself in the industry I’m in. He promised me I would leave that day with “bouncing and behaving” hair.
The problems I have with my scalp are water-based type funguses. The synthetic hair is material and contributes to this. He said he could also see scaring from relaxers and perms I have had in the past. He did say the damage was nothing major.
“They’re working with worse chemicals than the sodium hydroxide [with synthetic hair]. We’re not magicians, we can’t solve it first time off, and we’re practicing to get better, but not practicing what we’ve done forever. That’s what Urban Textures is all about”
Now I knew that Urban Textures wasn’t cheap – and I’m on a budget – so one of the first things on my mind was how I could maintain the health and look of my hair without going broke.
“You could buy home-care products that we recommend,” said Cox. “Come in on a week-to-week basis, we sell packages, loyalty packages you can get 30 per cent, 40 per cent off.”
Since colour is done best on dirty hair, the colour specialist did a great job. We decided on auburn and chocolate with highlights that would look good when I wear it in an afro.
“You need to deposit a lot of moisture on the hair if you have colour,” said the colour specialist. “Make sure you moisture, moisture, moisture and it will be okay.”
Cox says that cotton is a big moisture stealer.
“A lot of people don’t know that you can have bounced and behaving hair with super curly hair. You can absolutely condition it to do anything. I have several clients that people don’t know they have an afro.”
“We respect relaxers, we do them everyday. It is damaging the hair – relaxers damage the hair. But, we do them with respect. We do them to the most integrity. We do not relax to the extent it becomes bone straight.”
Cox added that they try to take 65 per cent to 75 per cent to the maximum of straightening.
“Curly hair is prone to be dry because there is a lot of protein that makes up that hair. It tends to be dry, dehydrated, and less porous. We have to do what we can to retain the moisture. That’s the biggest issue. As Puffy would say, ‘we try to moisturize the situation and preserve all the sexy.’ That’s something we would like to share with the industry. Our people are taught to feel the difference in the hair. It’s stuff I was taught by mentors of mine. One of my mentors was a gentleman at Omari’s [in Montreal] who is now a pastor in Halifax and is still doing hair. Literally, God told me to hire this man and assist him. He taught me everything I know about hair and finding the moisture. I had to look for that squeaky clean. It’s about making your hair canvas [like an artist]. All hair requires that to make it a canvas.”
There are a lot of great hairdressers that share the same philosophy. André Walker who does Oprah’s hair shares the same philosophy.
“I have an addiction, and it’s to making people look beautiful,” says Cox. “I have an addiction to smoothing hair.” He’s even like that with his jeans which had a stain probably from the Oragina drink that he’s also addicted to.
Urban Textures is specifically designed to target the multi-ethnic demographic of today and of the future.
“Our target is to be the multi-ethnic salon – just based on the fact of the paradigm shift in the population. Unless Canada commits to developing the designated groups Canada will not have the pool of trained resources to compete in the world market. Places like Eaton had forgotten the market of XXX clothes and this in part is why they went under. We’re not going to be caught blind-sided like Eaton. By 2010 the Chinese and Indian community will represent the largest portion of the population and whites will be in the minority. Each and every person that works in the company needs to be sociologically sound.”
Cox runs a shop where there will not be any telling of Muslim jokes.
Pictures were snapping to capture all the beautiful moments in the salon that evening. I hadn’t felt that good about my natural looks in a long time. Thanks to everyone at Urban Textures.
There are two locations in Toronto: 44 Gerrard St. W. at Bay, across the street from the Delta Chelsea. [Editor’s note: I think it is in Yorkville now]. They’re also in Scarborough at McCowan and 401 – across from CTV.