There’s power in being different and if anyone knows that, it’s Susy Oludele. If you haven’t met her in person, perhaps you’re one of her followers on Instagram. Her account is flooded with pictures of her flaunting aqua blue Afros, floor-sweeping faux locs and zigzag patterns etched on the sides of her head. The Brooklyn native is also known for her Afrocentric style, which she expresses through her art.
She’s built a name for herself in Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood as the owner and founder of HairbySusy, a hair salon that specializes in braids and natural hairstyles. She’s popularly known for free handing intricate looks that pop in bright summer hues and bold accessories. But, after she received an unexpected email from Solange’s PR (yes, Queen B’s sister) requesting her services, Oludele became a sought-after hair guru to the stars. She’s worked with Lala Anthony, Beyoncè, Zoë Kravitz and Dawn Richards.
However, her journey to success did not happen overnight. She’s been doing hair professionally since she was 16-years-old, and worked a number of odd jobs along the way. When her parents decided to move to Wisconsin after bouncing from one New York borough to another, she stayed in Brooklyn to make it on her own. She worked at McDonald’s and as a home health aide, rented rooms in her house for hair stylists to do their work, spent time in a homeless shelter doing people’s hair for free until she finally had enough money to convince the previous owner of her salon building to sell it to her. Oludele’s go-getter attitude, unequivocal style, and in-your-face persona is what brought her to where she is now and it’s only right that we get to know the self-proclaimed “African Creature” that everyone’s been buzzing about. Meet our latest BAUCE: Susy Oludele.
Everyone knows you by the pseudonym, African Creature. But, what is your full name and what does it mean?
Susy: [My name is] Susan Oludele. I’m a smart businesswoman, with a heart of Gold and a lover of God. When my mother was giving birth to me, she couldn’t speak English and she had no one to help her at the time, except for her doctor, which is who I’m named after. I think that’s so cool.
How did that nickname come about?
Susy: African Creature [is] a beautiful flower out of the concrete of life. I named myself African Creature because I used to get teased in school and I decided to take control of my life and become better. But I know now that being better is a state of mind and you continue to grow each day. I encourage everyone to live every second like it’s your last!
Your personality and sense of style are vibrant and full of life. Tell us about the journey you took to finding yourself.
Susy: Finding yourself is a forever process. I feel like I’m finding myself everyday. It’s really a process, but it’s a fun journey. You just have to walk with God and have faith that life is going to get you through. But, it is important to really go crazy during your journey by taking control of your life. Just grab it by the face and go clubbing. You really have to take ownership of your life because that is the only solution to true happiness and success.
Before launching Hair By Susy, you worked at McDonald’s and as a home health aid for some time. What made you decide to become a full-time hairstylist?
Susy: I worked as a home health aide for two years and I was the best home health aide in the whole company as well as the youngest employee. I got an award and felt so proud because I felt like I meant something to someone. However, I got laid off from being a home health aide and I cried for 3 minutes. I stopped crying when I realized that I have a skill that can really make money.
What do you believe makes your brand unique?
Susy: I think being positive, authentic, striving to be better [and] stepping out of the box is what makes my brand unique. [At Hair By Susy], we care about all of our clients. We love to create and innovate new [hairstyles].
You’ve earned the attention of Beyoncé, Zoë Kravitz and Solange, and every look you’ve created for them has gone viral. In fact, the Lemonade braids that you did are still en vogue since Beyoncé’s album came out. How has your career been like since then? Did you think that your work would have received such a positive response?
Susy: It’s crazy because I didn’t know [my work] would get so much positive feedback. Wow, that’s pretty interesting and cool to hear that I have made an impact to many. But, it’s not because of me. It’s by the grace of God. When I create, I try to be creative in the moment and just let it flow. When things flow, magic happens. Oh yeah, I just found out that self-discipline is a major key in life because that causes you to be consistent.
What advice would you give to an aspiring hairstylist that really helped you reach success when you started?
Susy: Do it because you love to do it. You also need to be disciplined and consistent. Oh and just have fun.
- Work, work, work, work, work.
- Practice, practice, practice.
- Perfect your craft.
- Be nice — talent isn’t enough.
- Know yourself and know your worth.
- Don’t be afraid to charge what you are worth.
- Practice new trends.
- Think about what makes you unique and concentrate on that!
What can we expect next from you? What new projects are currently in the works?
Susy: I’m creating a new hair book that will be launching soon. [Another] salon is in the works, but you can book an appointment at our salon at hairbysusy.com. I can’t wait to share with you new hair videos on YouTube: Africancreature.