By Chantell Webster
For most women falling in love with a hairstylist is like falling in love with your life partner. Beautiful! So when I recently attended the Miss Black Illinois pageant and saw the hair of winner Imani Josey, I fell in love. After much research and a tad bit of Facebook snooping, I found out who was responsible for this beautiful look and had to reach out.
The stylist is Jonathan Abernathy, 28, owner of Platinum Images, a wardrobe management and image development company located at 200 North Dearborn. A hair genius in his own right, Jonathan has all the right moves.
Jonathan gave this interview to me as an adoring fan of his work and let me a tad bit deeper into the life of a multi-faceted stylist.
With him sitting in a fitted black turtle neck and black jeans, boots, and long black hair peaking from under his hat, we sipped green tea one early Wednesday morning in a downtown Starbucks. From his looks and physique, he could’ve easily been a model, dancer, actor or all of the above, but he simply refers to himself as a stylist.
We ended up talking another hour after the interview and I fell more and more in love with Jonathan. He’s a young man with a good head on his shoulders and dreams that will take him really far. He is destined for greatness, I can tell you that. Not only can Jonathan style up some hair, he can hold a great conversation with you, too, ladies!
N’DIGO: How did you get in the hair business?
Jonathan Abernathy: I’ve always loved hair and fashion. It was something that just kind of organically happened for me while in college; I started to do hair on campus and quickly became the campus hair stylist. I didn’t enroll in hair school until several years later and completed my education at Steven Papageorge Hair Academy in Chicago.
Tell me about Platinum Images.
Platinum Images is my wardrobe management and image development company. I started Platinum Images a few years ago after working as a freelance stylist for a number of years.
I perform “How to Dress” workshops at colleges and universities, large businesses, career fairs and any other business that request them. I also work with individual clients one-on-one to help them improve their overall look, whether it is corporate or high fashion needs, from celebrity styling to fortune 500 CEOs. We specialize in creating an unforgettable image.
So what is your specialty when it comes to hair styling?
I specialize in healthy, beautiful hair. I love to create glamorous, red carpet hair…hair that moves, shines and takes on a life of it’s own, but without taking over the client.
Do you have a favorite style?
Personally, I love long hair! I love the versatility that it gives the client. I love that it can be put up in an elegant chignon, sleek ponytail, or let down to expose lots of loose waves and curls.
This industry has so many great stylists; do you have anyone you look up to in the business?
When it comes to business, I’ve always looked up to one person, Michael Rahni Flowers. He’s the owner of Van Clef hair studios and I absolutely adore him. He’s been in business for well over 20 years and has been the best example to me of how to run a business.
His attention to detail, customer service and remaining grounded is incredible. His client base is even more impressive. He keeps them coming back and that lets you know he is doing something right. If he didn’t know, now he knows! I think he’s an awesome businessman.
Another stylist I look up to is Christopher Canty. He is truly amazing, from his business sense to his go-getter type attitude. I love how he has his hands in so many things with major people but keeps a very low profile.
What is your top hair product?
Right now I’m using the Original Moroccan Oil line. It’s awesome. I use it on every single client and they fall in love.
Who is your hair icon?
What keeps your clients coming back?
My work and personality, I would say. That’s not conceited is it? I always give 300 percent when I am working on a client. I do their hair like I want mine done. I once had a client tell me, “Stop, its perfect, Jonathan!” I’m a bit of a perfectionist in my vision.
What are you doing when you’re not styling hair?
Reading, working out, wardrobe styling, flipping through Paris Vogue Collection or spending time with family and friends. I do my best to have a life outside of hair because I don’t want to become so consumed that I start to hate it.
In the summers I play tennis a lot, which is great to relieve the stress of the day. I also find solace in just jumping on a plane and going somewhere for the weekend –– that’s always fun!
In 20 years where do you see yourself?
As a successful salon owner with Hair Academies in select locations. Limited behind the chair work because I’ll be running several successful businesses while trying to maintain my sanity! Living off of the fruits of my labor very abundantly I hope!
Last question: Who’s the most inspiring person in your life?
My grandparents. I know you said person, but they are definitely joined at the hip. My grandfather has always inspired me to do what I love to do. He knew I loved hair before I did.
He pushed me to go and supported me every step of the way. He always told me to remain true to myself because there was nothing wrong with me. I love that.
My grandmother wouldn’t care if I sat at home and made paper planes all day; I’m her baby. She encouraged me to do what I loved. Every time I saw her until I finished school, she’d ask me, “How much more you got to go?” Urging me to hurry and finish. I love that, too. That’s the most amazing support anyone can ask for.