Black Rose’s instinct for style was a local asset. “My mother was an expert seamstress,” she said. “She taught us how to make dresses and hats. We modeled our fashions at church, at community centers, and then at some clubs in Harlem.
Along with her sister and two friends, all talented “seamstresses” as they were then called, she produced a series of well-received fashion shows featuring their designs. She would soon combine her love of fashion and her growing love for her cultural heritage in a way that would forever impact her life.
“Kwame Braithwite asked me if I wanted to be a Grandassa model,” Black Rose said. It was what I was doing, but being a Grandassa model took it to the next level! »
The hairstyles of the Grandassa models represented an authentic pride in their heritage along with the clothes. Fascinated by the texture and artistic possibilities of black hair, Black Rose chose to train as a barber in order to work on this texture because cosmetology schools taught that pressing or perming were the only options. Still a hairstylist today, she adorns black women with beautiful, natural-looking hair — though she doesn’t use that term for it.
“I don’t say so much, ‘natural hair.’ Everyone has hair that is natural to them, Africans have African hair, our hair is unique and our beauty is unique.
A dream came true for Black Rose when she was invited to visit Africa for the first time.
“In 1977, I returned to Nigeria as a participating artist at Festac,” she said. (She would later visit eight other African nations.) “I have been chosen to produce an extravaganza of African hairstyles at Lagos Town Hall, a truly fabulous location!”
She made the front page of a major newspaper there, with the title “Goddess of African Culture”. In the United States, she has also graced the cover of The Liberator magazine and on Lou Donaldson’s Good Gracious! album cover.
Black Rose has always had several things to do. She worked at Revlon as a quality control inspector with on-the-job training as a chemist. The latter discipline is one she still cultivates, as she does in the production of her Aromas of Dignity essential oil blend, sold in stores in several states and in Namaskar here in New York. Her life has been an adventurous and rewarding journey and Black Rose has been honored to do so.
“I realized how much we gave the world and how much we still have to offer,” she said. “We will carry on with our legacy and reach greater heights. There is no valid reason not to continue on this path.