Located on the trendy Academy Road corridor in Winnipeg, Freshair Boutique opened in 2010 and was one of the city’s first greencertified hair salons. Its roots date back to owner and master stylist Praise Okwumabua, who spent her childhood cutting and styling her dolls’ hair, giving her brothers haircuts in the driveway and styling hair from her apartment.
After becoming a first-time parent, Okwumabua decided that it was time to open a salon of her own. “I was thinking if I’m going to do this, this is the best time,” she says. In 2010, she turned her childhood passion into a 1,300-square-foot, ecocertified salon that caters to a diverse range of clientele. Okwumabua describes her inspiration for thesalon’s design as “classic and timeless,” as she wanted the space to have a gallery feel by showcasing new artwork on the salon’s white and wood walls every three months. The salon has undergone renovations that included brightening the walls from dark green to white to create a fresher, more light-filled space and adding thin wood privacy walls.
Through the use of various plants and greenery, reusable and repurposed window displays that change seasonally and custom elements like wood A-frame shelves, the space continuously evolves over time to provide the perfect decor for a variety of looks. “You could wear a ballgown or jeans in there,” says Okwumabua. “The textures and naturalness allow us to change it up and make it super cottage type or more modern.”
While cutting and styling a variety of hair lengths, textures and colours in a light, fresh and positive space, Okwumabua and her team at Freshair also provide education and certification opportunities for textured hair. “It’s a very foundational course,” she says. “I teach five basic services: washing and blow-drying, cornrows, single braids, twists and locs. There are three blocks on cutting. The least I can do with my experience is pass it down and give people a version of it that they can take part in, restructure and then pass it down.”
“If you’re going to say [you work in the] ‘hair’ industry, then you should be talking about every type of hair,” she adds. “Being able to service all hair types is what really builds confidence in how we look at diversity in our industry. Stylists know that working here allows them to be able to learn about all hair types, and it empowers them to be better stylists.”
Opened in 2010, renovated in 2018
1,300 square feet
Kevin.Murphy Surface Hair Hairstory
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