Khamit Kinks had several sequential locations that Anu scouted out, renovated, and turned into destination salons attracting clients not only from the tri-state area but from around the country and from the diaspora. In the early days of her career, Anu traveled between Washington, DC, New York, Miami, Florida, and Nassau Bahamas with the motto of ‘have comb will travel.’ Travel weary, in 1980 Anu left her brief 8-month stint in Miami and relocated to Harlem, New York where she dug her heels in, focused on her skills and grew her client base in the city where she resided. Let’s take a look at this location journey.
This photo was taken in Miami following the break-out film “10”, a film about a tall, young, white woman with blond cornrows and beads. There was an outcry of appropriation (though that term wasn’t yet in use). There was push-back on the idea that Bo Derek was responsible for creating braided hairstyles. No doubt, the movie “10” did bring the idea that braids could be glamorous to the general public. It was during this time that Anu went from braiding just the hair of students, artists, and those involved with African culture, to offering her services to mainstream African-American women. Medium size cornrows with extensions were all the range in the 80s.
Harlem, New York
From Miami came the move to Harlem. Anu lived in a generous sized Harlem brownstone and offered her braiding services to clients in her salon-style living room. Many clients still talk about those days when Anu would pop popcorn for her clients. While braiding their hair, they were most often listening to the new jazz station WBGO, that had just started up in New Jersey. Anu explains, “Work without good music becomes a chore.” Anu was in this location from 1980-1987 during which time the popular styles were single braids with human hair, micro-braids with tiny beads, corkscrews, and Senegalese Twists were the styles that were in demand.
Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
In 1987 Anu purchased a brownstone in Brooklyn along with her husband, Sasen and another couple, the Jeppes’. The salon was on the garden level of the brownstone, and it was the work done at this location that garnered Khamit Kinks international exposure. With regular features in Essence Magazine and a growing list of celebrity clientele, Khamit Kinks became the salon of choice for those of discerning taste seeking professional natural hairstyles. The celebrities that visited this location included Stevie Wonder, Terry McMillan, Angela Davis, Iman, Angela Bassett, Alfre Woodard, Vanessa Williams brought her daughter, the now famous, Lion Babe to Khamit Kinks. There was the other Vanessa Williams, actress, film-maker, and director who was also a client. Spike Lee shot his film “Crooklyn” a block away from this location and hired Anu to do the hairstyling for his movie. With five vintage vanity stations, The business outgrew this space that could only fit one shampoo bowl and one hairdryer. Khamit Kinks was in this location from 1988-1996.
The move to TriBeCa was major. The salon was much larger, a 2500 sq ft space that housed ten styling chairs, a barber section, five shampoo bowls, and five dryers. At the TriBeCa location, textured weaves and Loc styles were most popular. It was also at this address that television came calling. Khamit Kinks was featured on The View (twice), VH1, B.Smith with Style, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and many more. It was in this beautiful space that Khamit Kinks had annual hair and fashion shows. Khamit Kinks was in this location from 1997-2006
When the rents in TriBeCa doubled to double digits ($14,000 a month), it was time to head back to Brooklyn. This Gold Street property had been a former paper factory situated one block from the Manhattan Bridge. An industrial structure, it boasted three huge skylights, an exposed brick wall that ran the length of the salon was also a 2500 sq ft space. It was during this time that the natural movement boomed. There was an explosion of college-age women discovering their natural hair. They had been wearing relaxed hair all their lives and now wanted to get to know their true tresses. Those new to natural sough out Khamit Kinks for professional advice on how to properly transition from chemically processed to natural hair. Naturalistas lined up before dawn on Black Fridays to have their tresses groomed at the Gold Street spot. The salon was here from 2006-2011.
At the Atlantic Avenue location, Khamit Kinks took its consultation services to the next level, offering in-depth, one-on-one consultations. The salon excelled in coverage for those clients who were losing their hair due to age, heredity, illness, or just to have a fuller look. This was a time of everything goes, fashion colors, pompadour bridal styles, Sister Locks, barber cuts, and the classic styles that were a mainstay continued to be requested. Atlantic Avenue Khamit Kinks became known for their presence at the Atlantic Antic an annual street fair where hundreds would dance in front of the salon to the sounds of the DJs hired for this incredible occasion. The salon presence was here from 2011- January 2019.
While looks matter, what gave Anu supreme satisfaction was the fact that countless clients loved both the feel and smell of Khamit Kinks. It was always warm and welcoming.