‘Hair’ she goes
Alison a Bajan makeup artist with a difference
Name: Alison Biscette-Glasgow
REI Fashion Academy
Barbados Community College
Alexandra Secondary School
Occupation: Makeup Artist, Event Producer, Small Business Promoter, Encourager.
A close friend of yours, while in conversations with colleagues in his profession is giving a short summary of who Alison Biscette-Glasgow is, what do you think your friend would you say?
Wow! I believe my friend would comment on my sense of humour first of all. Honesty. Willingness to help others. He would tell them how humble I am. Tenacious. Persistent. Creative. Love to celebrate and promote other people’s achievements. Transparent. Love to give of my time, energy and resources. Adventurous.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about so many different things, but my children first of all; women becoming empowered, encouraged, uplifted, motivated ; events and promoting small businesses. God.
What four words best describe you?
Loyal, stubborn, private, funny.
Having completed secondary you enrolled at BCC instead of a sixth form school or taking the route of work, what was your thought process at that time and why did you choose BCC?
I don’t think I wanted to back in the same old school setting. I was ready for a totally different environment. So I chose BCC when I learned about the Fashion Design courses they were offering. I wanted to be on Elsa Klensch. I have always loved fashion and design.
During your two years at BCC you studied Fashion and Design. Were you hoping of entering the fashion industry as a designer and garment maker?
Yes, that was the plan. I worked in the industry under Edlyn Harewood, and fashion designer Tessa Daniel. I still love fashion, that will never change, but I’m involved in the industry through makeup and beauty now.
You worked for two years at Abeds & Co. Ltd and was known for your professionalism and genuine kindness and warmth towards customers, regardless of age, race or gender or whether you were having a good or bad day. How were you able to be so consistent in your interactions as a sales clerk? What’s the secret?
I got asked that so many times. I really don’t see myself as anything special. It is simply that my life experiences have thought me to cherish life. Not just my own, but others. One day a customer stopped and asked me, “What is it that makes you so different?” This really forced me to think about it. So I said to her, “When you come here to me, I may see you smiling, and I may tell myself, ‘she’s fine, she’s good’. But you could be far from good! So I always think, Alison, what if this person buys this material, and goes to the top of City Centre Mall and jumps off? What can I do or say, that will make them think, ‘you know what, let me hold on for one more day!’ I love to see people smile. You would be so surprised what people are going through. I have heard stories from customers that you would not believe! I never judge a book by its cover.
If you had an opportunity to live over your life from the time you entered secondary school, what is one thing you would do different?
My school days were fantastic, I had two great best friends at Alexandra. But I would definitely have outworked my younger self. I would have learned more about discipline and finances. I would have bought land a long time ago. I would have started my own business earlier. I would have done lots of volunteer work. Joined more extra-curriculars.
If you had to become a super hero, what would be your name and what special power or ability would you have?
My name would be P-Ray. 🙂
My superpower would be to extract people’s potential and show it to them. I love watching persons discover their potential.
If you could solve one global problem, what would it be?
Can I say this? Child molestation.
Is that crazy? I know children are going hungry and that kills me, but I believe we can change that if we come together and use or minds and resources, and we really remember, not learn, remember to love one another. As a victim of child molestation, speaking to SO many others over my life, NOTHING robs a child of his value like child molestation! You doubt yourself, you become promiscuous to gain attention or act it out. Wives question their marriage. It skews your view on adults. And it is almost always done by persons you are supposed to trust with your life, who threaten your life, the life of your siblings, parents. It gives you a false sence of worth. If you look around you right now, you wouldn’t believe how many of your friends were molested.
From employee to entrepreneur, what motivated you to take the leap and was the transition an easy one?
I always knew I wanted to work for myself, build something from scratch, employ people one day. People will tell you about the bills you have to pay, the children, the steady income, but I believe that a true entrepreneur is a risk taker. And when you measure that against your dream it seems like a small price to pay, but I will say to persons with children and mortgages, prepare yourself financially, mentally and spiritually first. It is not easy transitioning, people think you’re mad. I have friends who I speak to who are hurting, because their family thinks they should work for 40-plus years, get a gold watch and retire. So I always encourage and support them the best way I can. I love Gary Vaynerchuk, he always asks, ‘how are you going to look back on the next 30 years of your life, with joy or regret?’ But also this is not for everyone. This is in my blood.
When your name is mentioned, immediately it is associated with natural hair. Where did the interest in natural hair originate from and tell us about your event the Barbados Natural Hair, Health & Beauty show.
I was working in an extremely stressful working environment, and I was popping Panadols like they were candy. I had this friend at the time who always said, ‘Alison, Ital is vital.’ He is a health freak. Then one day I came across an article online, talking about all the ways we are putting toxins into our bodies, and I also found out I was pregnant. I came across articles about black women worldwide who were returning to wearing their hair without relaxers. That intrigued me. I decided to do it as well. I am also working on what I am putting into my body as well. Friends noticed and encouraged me by adding me to groups online. In the groups I would read all these horror stories about how naturalistas, as we call ourselves, were being treated. As a woman I love to encourage other women, so that upset me to no end. So I created the Barbados Natural Hair Health & Beauty Show to provide other ‘naturals’ with a safe environment to come and be celebrated.
The ‘When Queens Gather series’ isn’t a show, but a series of workshops. What is the focus of these workshops and what inspired
Every year people hear about the Natural Hair Show after it has passed, and would always contact me about what else we do. So me and Cherice Gibson of Avoda Consulting came up with When Queens Gather, a series of workshops that cater to the whole of the naturalista – hair, style, beauty. It will also touch on finances, relationships, care of children with natural hair in the future. I love to address women as ‘Queens’, especially naturalistas, as we call our hair our crowns, so it is a gathering of ‘Queens’ coming together to learn something new.
‘Curls Nite Out’ is another natural hair event you produce. What’s the difference between this and the Barbados Natural
Curls Nite Out is our summer event for naturals. We have vendors for you to shop with, and presentations by local entrepreneurs. Entertainment. Come and learn about styling techniques, hair care, wardrobe creation. Learn to identify your personal style. Food and drinks on sale. Naturals and their relaxed friends say how much they learn.
Since producing these shows on natural hair and researching the area, what is one of the greatest misconceptions about natural hair you have found? Do you find men are interested in the topic and attend the shows?
As I learn more and more about natural hair, I see what tribes in Africa do with their hair, so many amazing styles. I follow braiders and natural hair stylists here and in the [United] States who do amazing things manipulating natural hair the way only natural hair can. Braids is another way we can get so many style options. Another misconception is that it is unprofessional. I have friends in corporate – doctors, lawyers,teachers or engineers with natural hair or locs, who exude professionalism in there field, who their clients trust implicitly.
Yes, we have had male patrons at the show who come with their spouses or to support female friends. After last year’s show, a male patron commented how beautiful it was to see so many natural hair women together.
There is a massive global natural hair following and community. I understand the community was always there but what would you say caused it to gain so much traction and expanded the way it did?
I would say self love is increasing amongst the black community here and abroad, and it is shaking off the mentality that we are second class citizens and that we are unacceptable. Because of that, thousands of black women started wearing their hair naturally, becoming more vocal in the love of their features, and bodies, and it has just grown from there.
There is definitely an awakening.
Women empowerment and betterment is another huge interest of yours. Tell us about ‘Women Afire Ministries’.
Women Afire Ministries is a ministry given to me by God when I was 18-years-old. Along the way life stepped in. I recently started to refocus on what it is called to do, and it is a Kingdom Ministry focused on empowering young women to make a positive spiritual, physical and financial impact on their homes and by extension communities and country. By uplifting, empowering and educating them and giving them the tools to impact change.
You are the event producer of ‘True Beauty Seminar’. With such an interesting name, it would be interesting to hear how you define “true beauty”.
True beauty for me is realizing that your imperfection, weaknesses, and strength is what makes you beautiful. None can give you your beauty, you have to step into it. Realize how unique it is. No one else is like me or you. I know other tall women, but they are not me. Not funny, creative, strong, persistent, the way I am. They don’t have my life experiences or respond to situations the way I do. That’s what makes me unique and beautiful.
You are the visionary behind ‘Christian Couples Barbados’ and ‘Christian Singles Barbados’. What are these – events, organizations, seminars?
Christian Couples Barbados and Christian Singles are both organizations catering to my christian brothers and sisters. Marriage has it’s own set of problems, but so does being single in church. CCB and CSB were created to address those problems, but also to celebrate all the beautiful aspects of those seasons in life. Yes, there are great aspects to both!
Early in 2015, there was a national discussion on the “twist out” natural hair ban in a secondary school. What are your thoughts on this?
I think this is such a shame. For years we have had artisans and local celebrities who have worn their hair naturally, whether it was locs, corn rows, or bantu knots, such as Ras Iley, Edwin, Allison Hinds, [attorney] Arthur Holder, Mikey and Lil Rick. We never looked down on their talent because of their hair.
I have three children and all three act differently. Why are we still expecting a black child’s natural hair to respond the same way as a white or brown child’s hair in the SAME style?
If my daughter goes to school with her hair open and her Indian or white classmate goes to school with her hair open it will be two totally different outcomes. Why is one more loveable and acceptable? Then we turn around and encourage all three girls to love the Indian and white hair options. That is my problem with all of this!
As women we already have our gender as a strike against us. I know, I know, you’re itching to tell me about rules etc. I never encourage children to break rules, only mindsets. Do not tell me about old slave mentalities. Tell me what are we teaching our young black ladies about self love NOW!
I look back on the Afro from the sixties, was that distracting back then? That situation went global. I think it definitely could have been handled differently. Only those girls would know how they would have felt. My biggest regret is if they were made to feel less than they are.
What is next for Alison?
Currently I am organising an expo. It is called the Barbados Beauty Expo. It will be held this Sunday, July 24th 2016. It is from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. I love makeup and all things beauty related. After a conversation with a Trinidadian beauty company I worked with last year, it confirmed the need for a beauty event here in Barbados that caters to novices, students, professionals and the public.
After speaking to my husband Barbados Beauty Expo was born. We hope to grow it into the biggest, must-attend event here in the Caribbean, where manufacturers will come and educate professionals about their newest product lines; professionals educate the public on their techniques; where beauty schools can recruit students. Our vendors will include hair, makeup, nails, spa & wellness brands. They will be there to sell their products, provide services on the spot.
Who has contributed to your development and success that you would like to say thanks to?
First of all I thank God because the little girl I was growing up would never have seen myself here today. My husband has taught me so much. My apostle at my church. Amazing persons like Sonya Goddard, Cherice Gibson, Shawna Morgan, the beautiful Jalisia Boxill, Steffan Burgess and Heidi Bowen for indulging my love of makeup. My team Khadija and Chrystle. All the crazy people who belive I can do it when I just really want to give up. Thanks for encouraging me when I need it. And of course C2J Foundation Inc.