Photo courtesy of Janet Jackson.
For Janet Jackson, founder and CEO of JouJou Hair Studio, there’s a transformative relationship between beauty and empowerment. Indeed, it’s “bringing out the beauty within” — as Jackson says — that she loves most about working in the hair care industry. The phrase “Be-You-Tiful” is splashed across the studio’s website and social media, serving both as a sort of workplace mantra and, more significantly, a reminder for everyone that they are beautiful, and that beauty does lie within.
Established in 2007, JouJou Hair Studio is located in the heart of Etobicoke, Ontario. Jackson leads a team of artists who provide an array of services, from cuts and design to styling and treatment. In 2020, JouJou Hair Studio was voted the Best Beauty Salon according to ByBlacks’ People’s Choice Award.
In addition to running JouJou Hair Studio, Jackson has made numerous TV appearances as a beauty expert and worked on shows like The Marilyn Denis Show and Project Run-way Canada. On top of that, she has styled the tresses of some of entertainment and fashion industries’ most famous heads, from Iman and Winnie Harlow to Usher and Rita Ora. However, what’s perhaps most remarkable is the work Jackson does within her community.
Jackson works with all hair types, and, above all, she brings out the best of those who sit in her chair.
Where did your journey in the hair care industry begin? How has your relationship with your own hair changed over time?
My journey in hair care started years after I started doing hair. At first, my only concern was the artistry — and creating. In school, the focus was not on how to care for hair and to keep it healthy, but how to alter it and create hairstyles. But as years went by, and I worked in different salons, I noticed a lot of damage being done, especially to textured hair. It was then that I started to look at hair differently.
For example, I used to chemically straighten my hair for a very long time — until I realized the damage I was doing to my hair. I soon decided to go natural, and [it] has been natural since! I must add that being “natural” is not for everyone, but I now know how to educate my clients on keeping relaxed or chemically straightened hair healthy.
You founded JouJou Hair Studio in 2007. Was opening your own studio something you had envisioned for yourself?
Opening a salon was never a part of the plan I had for [myself]. I started in my basement, worked in many salons, rented chairs, and then realized I needed an entire space. I started o- with one assistant, but then my clientele was growing quickly — I was getting even busier outside of the salon — and I could not keep up with the demand. At that point, I decided to get a bigger place, build a team, [and] train them so that I could keep up with the high demand.
You’ve worked with stars like Winnie Harlow, Rita Ora, Iman, Kim Fields, Marci Ien, Tracy Moore, Usher, Stephan James, Keshia Chanté, Miguel, and countless others. What got you your first celebrity assignment? How did you feel about it?
My first major celebrity assignment was working with Iman on Project Runway Canada. I got that job through Jay Manuel’s recommendation, who I had styled on Canada’s Next Top Model. I must say that I was extremely nervous, but, in the end, [I] had an amazing time with Iman and learned a lot.
Do you believe you are contributing to diversity in the beauty industry?
I definitely do my best as a professional hairstylist. I recognize all ethnicities and hair types. I am capable of styling anyone who sits in my chair, which not too many stylists can do. I also make sure to address all hair types in my TV segments and product brand projects. Diversity in the beauty industry is something I speak on often, and [I] find ways to contribute whenever I can.”
Be-You-Tiful” is JouJou Hair Studio’s mantra. What inspired this, and what makes you feel “be-you-tiful?”
The inspiration behind “Be-You-Tiful Day” comes from my social service worker background. I know how important it is to help your community and, in my case, helping people feel great about themselves. So, I created this day for a team of professionals — hairstylists, make-up artists, nail technicians, fashion stylists, and photographers — to go to different shelters. During the event, participants get their hair, make-up, and nails done. Then, the photographer does a short photo shoot session with each of the participants. Some of the families end up doing family/friends photos, documenting how “Be-You-Tiful” they look that day.
Jericho Tadeo | Contributing Writer