Behind every superstar is a glam team, and behind every glam team, there’s the go-to hairstylist. Meet, Ashanti Lation, celebrity hairstylist, entrepreneur, and CEO of hair care company VIP Luxury Hair Care. Also known as the “Healthy Hair Guru”, Lation teaches her clients and online fan base how to properly care for their hair, bring it back to life, and deems herself an “overall educator for all things hair.”
Establishing her beauty mecca, located in New Orleans, Ashanti has curated her empire as a force in the industry, most notably as the go-to hairstylist for pop superstar Normani and creator of some of her most iconic looks. Her work as a part of the creative team on set at the “Wild Side” and “Motivation” video shoots put her talents on display to millions. Her keen sense of taste, innovative styles, attentiveness to detail, and high-quality products do not go unnoticed, setting herself apart from the rest.
Beyond her company and celebrity clients, Ashanti has a thriving social media following that desires her behind-the-scenes footage, tutorials, and educational videos on achieving healthy hair.
Flaunt caught up with Ashanti while on travel in Los Angeles, working on an undisclosed set. Read below as we discuss her New Orleans roots, biggest influences, love for hair, starting her own company, favorite products, fall hair trends, and more!
What was a young Ashanti like growing up in New Orleans?
Depends on who’s referencing. If it’s coming from my mom… [laughs] she’ll say I had fun as a kid, I was fun, I’ve lived my young life proud. The same as now, I love people, enjoy talking to everyone, and love to hang around and network with others. Talk all things hair, even before I knew I was going to be in this industry. An overall fun-loving person!
Biggest influences coming up?
In general, my mom and my grandmother, especially my grandmother. My mom was a key as well, but my grandmother was one of the notable influences in my life. I love her dearly, she taught me so much overall about life in general.
When did your love for hair begin?
My love for hair actually began naturally, having to do my cousin’s along with my own. We’re kids styling their hair because we wanted to go outside and play. Our grandmother would say; “If you guys’ hair is in a comb, y’all can’t go outside.” Me being the older cousin by a few years, I’d take it upon myself to do mine and theirs. Following my high school career, people would comment “Hey, it looks good.” I then started to get asked frequently, to do others. Then the overall business side of it came from there. I said “Yeah, I can make money doing this. Let me start taking on people as clients.”
What was the reality in starting VIP Luxury Hair?
VIP started with continuous clients and doing hair for the love of it. I named it VIP because I wanted my clients to always feel important. We all know when your hair’s looking great, you feel overall good. I want people to always feel VIP within themselves and everyday lifestyles. Any individual from any walk of life. My business started with doing my clients’ hair. It was time for me to get a building because I was growing out of the previous space.
Finally getting a building, I’d mix up and make products for my clients for their specific hair needs. I’d get them to refer potential clients, and they’d refer others. Before I knew it, all these people that weren’t my personal clients wanted to try all these products I was making in the salon too. I started mass producing, that process took a while to get the formulas right to do it on a larger scale. Next you know, bam! That’s where we’re at right now, growing and constantly elevating. It’s exciting.
What are your favorite items and why?
I love them all. Definitely love our shampoos and conditioners because healthy hair starts from the foundation. Everyone loves to get their hair shampooed and a scalp massage, you want that good relaxing feeling. You want your hair to feel really good and clean, really hydrate it and moisturize afterwards. Our Greaux drops is our #1 seller. A Greaux stimulant applying directly on your scalp, it’s not heavy.
It helps people that have hair growth issues, anywhere from thinning to alopecia. It’s a stimulator so it makes your body think your scalp is in an active growth phase, results appear fairly quickly. Even if you apply throughout your hair, it will not weigh it down. That’s my favorite. It feels great on your scalp. I love everything. Overall, I love all things hair. I’m a person that purchases flat irons and different tools of hair and beauty. If I spot something new I want to buy, I gotta try it. I could do reviews on everyone’s product because I’ve purchased everything. [laughs]
How did you tap in with Normani initially?
She reached out. VIP is well known in the New Orleans area, of course, but also in different cities. I have different fanbases. People reach out to me when they have things they are trying to do with their hair as far as growing it out, I’m a specialist like that. Her mom reached out to me because she was having a few issues, I believe her lace front thinned a section. She tried the products, loved them, and grew her hair back. She was in town and wanted me to take a look at her overall hair, I did and we’ve been linked ever since. She’s one of the sweetest, most amazing people.
How were you able to cater to what she wanted?
I’m a specialist in my field. I always share, let me do a consultation first, take a look at what we’re potentially working with. I ask them what their goal is. Regardless, of it’s a celebrity or an ongoing client. I always want to know what their overall goal is. What they’re trying to achieve. I like to know their hair history. Tell me what’s going on, tell me what happened, tell me what caused it. What time frame? How long has it been since it’s been like this? From there, I always come up with a plan, a call to action of how we’re going to get to their overall goals.
Of course, styling is everything. We want to look beautiful. When your hair is not in these styles for set or press, the overall main goal is to always be healthy. How you would have your hair in a styled bun, nice and healthy whether you get hair color etc. I always ask what’s the overall goal you want to achieve with your hair? Following, I curate a plan that’s a one-month goal, 3-month goal, 6-month goal, then a 12-month goal. Making sure we’re executing their needs on time alongside staying on track with those goals.
What did it mean to do Normani’s hair in the “Wild Side” video?
It was an amazing experience. I was part of the team. Yusef, he was over creating the full look. He is a genius in masterminding her looks. Coming together with everyone, such a beautiful experience. Definitely, a team effort, in total a team of 3 to 4 because there were so many looks with all the girls. Anytime she does a video or press on that large of a scale. It’s always an experience. Truly feels like a family.
You had 40 minutes to change your hair to braids. Was that stressful?
Previous work she did for Ivy Park. We’re doing additional looks prior to that. When we do a shoot day, it’s 4 different sets she’s shooting for and Ivy Park was the last. That look, she wanted to do braids so we literally had to take out the other style. We were trying to beat the sun because it was starting to get dark. She’s looking at the time and said “I think I really want braids for this look, how long will it take?” I told her.
She said “You think we can get it done in 35, 40 minutes?” I said, “We gotta try to make it happen.” [laughs] It was right to the minute. Exactly when the time hit, I was finishing the last part. Lawd, I don’t know how it got done but I’m happy it did. The look came out really good, it was really edgy because Beyonce had the same outfit on for her look for the Ivy Park ad. She wanted to give it something a little bit different and more edgy with the braids. We were able to achieve that.
What are the fall hair trends?
Bangs are hot right now, bangs are definitely going to be coming back. Really, really layered haircuts because for a while, remember the Farrah Fawcett trends? The 70’s haircut that everybody was doing? Since then, a lot of people have fallen back in love with layering their hair. Lots of layers, lots of body is making a comeback and that hasn’t been a trend for a while. We gotta do bangs.
Some fall colors we gotta look for, a lot of copper of course. The funny thing right now is people are doing whatever makes them happy. You know how sometimes blonde is a summer color? That’s not a thing anymore. You can do whatever you want anytime you want. Blonds all throughout the fall, all throughout the winter, because people used to go dark for those seasons and that’s not even a thing anymore. Some of the trends I’m seeing are definitely going to be bangs, definitely lots of body and layers. You’re going to see people getting extensions for really, really long hair. You can see that already, or even short hair. Stuff that’s fun!
How important are hair vitamins?
Let me tell you, hair vitamins can be a game-changer for a lot of people. We came out with our Greaux hair vitamins earlier this year and they were a mega-success. Most people are vitamin deficient in some capacity and they don’t even realize it. Adding a supplement to your daily routine either for health and wellness, but definitely for hair, can be a game-changer. In California, many are cautious of their eating habits and diets. But, in most of America, we’re eating a lot of trash. You’re not getting your take of daily nutrition so using a supplement to make up for that makes a big difference.
For example, if you have a vitamin D deficiency, a Vitamin A deficiency, or iron deficiency, you’re not getting that in your foods. This is a normal level and you’re here [points down], you’re not getting the nutrition out of your food — at least if you’re taking a supplement, make sure you’re drinking water, it can bring your levels up to what the normal standard should be. When you’re low in any vitamin level and have a deficiency, that causes hair loss. That causes early aging, that causes brittle nails, that causes aches in your body. It causes so many things and people don’t know that. When they see their hair shedding or getting thinner, they say things like “Oh, maybe I used the wrong shampoo.” Or “maybe it’s because I’m aging.” They don’t even think “Hey, maybe it’s something that I’m not doing. That I’m lacking nutrition so I need to add this supplement in.” I tell people it can’t hurt, but it can definitely help. So go ahead!
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Go for it, follow your passion. Always make sure that you’re passionate and become good at what you do. Many start for the wrong reasons and eventually, you’ll lose passion. Give it your all, make sure you’re a professional in your particular career or any niche you’re starting your business venture in, great customer service, focus on that, the money’s going to follow you. The clients are going to follow, you’re going to be seen because people are drawn to individuals now. People are going to see your passion, they’re going to see your excitement about what you do and they’ll want to support you.
I tell young entrepreneurs or all entrepreneurs, anyone that’s trying to get into the entrepreneurial realm, make sure you’ve done your research, that you’re passionate, and you’re putting quality out there. Customer service is something I always like to pride myself on, making sure you’re transparent with the people. If they have any questions, make sure you’re answering them. Go for it. 2021’s about going full force. Go for it, you don’t want to get to 90 years old and say; “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve.” Some people may not start their journey in their young life. Some people may start their entrepreneurial journey in their 30’s, 40’s, or even 50’s. As long as you have breath in your body, go for it, because you don’t know how long you’ll live.
I remember reading this case study. I was 21, but it always stuck with me about the KFC man. When he came up with the formula for KFC, he was continuously turned down loans to finance and start KFC. He started in his 20’s. He got an investor finally at 65 years old. From his 20’s, that’s crazy. Most people definitely would’ve given up. He kept doing it on a small scale and once he finally got that investment, it blew up to the KFC we know now. He died years later, so he was able to enjoy the fruits of his labor for a small time. KFC is a global company, it’s in every part of the world.
His children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, everyone has been able to eat and become successful because he never gave up on his dream. He followed them and stuck with it. He believed in himself. He kept making sure that the quality was what he wanted it to be and eventually he got heard. He got noticed and it became what it was. There are many similar companies. Alongside the CEO of Amazon and his story, there are countless. Don’t measure your success with someone else’s because some people’s overnight success can be a 20-year process. Someone’s overnight success can be a one-week process. In this age of social media. Get out there and go for it.
Anything else you want to let the people know?
Follow VIP Luxury Hair Care on all social media platforms, if you want to view the products, check them out or read reviews. No matter what you’re doing with your hair, healthy hair care is #1. The style’s definitely important and beautiful, trends come and go, but as long as it’s healthy and at its best state, then you can keep up with the trends. You can cut it or grow it. As long as it’s healthy, you can do what you want with your hair.