UK The hairdresser from Rochdale with a very famous client last minute news
MetiNews.Com - "Sometimes I think, was that a dream?"
Breaking News ! She was his favourite star - the R&B legend who he adored growing up in noughties Rochdale. And here he was styling Ashanti's hair backstage at the Manchester leg of her world tour. It was a dream Mohammed Ilmaas never believed would come true. "I loved her - it was her music, her style, how she carried herself," Mohammed, who had bought all of her albums, swooned. It was February this year - when huge pop stars were still travelling the world performing in front of fans before the global lockdown - that he found himself working with the singer at Bowlers Exhibition Centre. The 32-year-old had lucked out after sending a message to concert promotions company Geestar Empire, after seeing them post about her tour on social media. "I had emailed to ask if she needed a hair stylist for her tour. You never know. I thought 'they will have someone'. But if you don't ask you don't get." To his surprise, the company got back in touch and asked him to come down on the morning of the gig to speak to Ashanti and show her his mood board. Mohammed couldn't believe his luck "I couldn't explain it. I was more than nervous, shaking. I didn't know what would happen. When I met her it was surreal." He had studied her hair and showed her three designs - even bringing his own extensions to show how he would complete the look. "I thought I would go for sleek with volume - so it would stay in place," he said. Thankfully, his favourite pop star didn't disappoint. She was kind and genuine and gave his styles the seal of approval. The What's Luv singer picked out her favourite style - a half up, half down hairdo with a slicked up ponytail falling into voluminous, bouncy curls. Styling his favourite pop star's hair was an overwhelming experience for Mohammed as the reality set in. "I was very quiet. I didn't know what to say. My nerves were kicking in," he said. "The nerves take over when you are meeting such a big artist." Ashanti was his hero growing up. "She was laughing, I was dropping bottles and brushes. She said 'you'll be OK.' She said 'would you like some water or orange juice?' "She could see I was nervous. It was a lot to take in. I cannot believe I have managed to style her hair. Everything just fell in place." Mohammed was allowed to stay throughout the concert in the VIP area in case she needed a touch up. To his delight, he was then invited back to work with the team on the Leeds show.
. It was such a nice vibe. Without asking, she put (pictures of her hairstyle) on Instagram (to her 5.5m followers). She was so happy with everything. It was the biggest thing styling her hair. Sometimes I think, was that a dream?"
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By the end the pair were laughing and joking like old friends. Mohammed first trained to be a hairdresser when he was 17. He loved creating 'avant-garde' styles and it became a 'passion'.
He thought he would try different career paths - he worked in admin then became a teacher while seeing clients in his spare time. "[But] as I got older I thought 'now is my time to show what I do. I have never looked back. It's rewarding making people feel great." He opened his own salon in Rochdale, Hair By Ilmaas, around four years ago. He has always been active on social media - and has built up contacts to work on fashion shoots - twice styling models' hair for British Vogue. Sadly Mohammed, along with scores of other hairdressers across the country, had to close his salon March 14 due to the nationwide lockdown. He reopened in July, but still looks over old photos of the Ashanti concert and can't believe his luck. "[The lockdown] was a struggle. I reflected and spent time with my family. I took it as a positive. There are so many opportunities out there. We waited until we were able to open and have taken each day as it comes." Mohammed doesn't have any immediate ambitions to take his business into a bigger city. He is open to opportunities, but is proud of the town he is from. He thinks Rochdale often gets bad press and he wants to show another side to the town - a place where creative people can thrive. "I always wanted to show the other side of Rochdale. I wanted to break the stereotype of the town," he said. "It's a small town and many people don't know it. They can see that someone has come from a small town and worked with big artists."