While we were mesmerized by Solange’s fiery braids from her Surface magazine cover a few months back (560 beads!), we were even more intrigued by the hands who made them. Susan Oludele, who goes by Susy, has been doing hair since she was 11.
“My mom used to give me cornrows, and I was always so inspired,” the Nigerian-American stylist says. After practicing on friends and family, she ended up working with Solange at age 19, when the singer found her online. Soon, Zoë Kravitz and Beyoncé came knocking.
When she doesn't have A-listers in her chair, Susy takes appointment-only clients at her Brooklyn, New York salon, Hair by Susy. Those same celebrity styles — like Beyoncé’s signature side cornrows — are ones she crafts for the lawyers, doctors, and students that sit in her chair. “I never limit myself or think that anyone isn’t going to accept what I create,” she says. “I just create. But the toughest part of being an artist is knowing your worth as far as pricing and what you’re willing to do.”
Susy, who has almost 21,000 Instagram followers, has already left a visible footprint on the hair industry. “Back in the day, I used to have all types of different beads in my hair and people would make fun of me,” she says. “Now, everybody embraces it. I just pray that we keep this ‘trend’ of natural Black beauty going. If you really love yourself, your braids, or your natural hair, you’ll do it forever.”
Black Is The New Black is Refinery29’s celebration of 20 Black women who kicked down doors in their fields this past year. Black women who are reminding the world that we are not a trend or “a moment.” We’re here — and we’ve been here. Check out the full list.