To this day, Yene Damtew, stylist and owner of Aesthetics Salon, maintains a humble perspective toward her role as Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s White House and touring hairstylist. Rather than react to her opportunity with starstruck awe, or be consumed by celebrity self-importance, Yene’s composure and gratitude speak to her professionalism and dedication to be the best businesswoman and stylist she can be. Much like Mrs. Obama, Yene is a role model for women everywhere.
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I’ve been reflecting on my journey in the hair industry and can’t help but be incredibly grateful for how my path unfolded. ⠀ ⠀ Growing up, I remember being mesmerized when my mom would take out her rollers before we went to church and she’d have these big, bouncy curls. I went to cosmetology school when I was 16 and started working at the neighborhood salon the minute I graduated high school. ⠀ ⠀ When I look at my salon business today, in a way, I am still that young girl who is fascinated by hair. As I continue to grow as a stylist, educator, and businesswoman, I’ll be sharing more about my journey right here on Instagram. ⠀ ⠀ If there’s anything you want to know about the hair industry, please let me know in the comments. Educating and sharing knowledge is one of my passions, so don’t be shy. Please share what you’d love to see below and thank you for following along. #HairByYeneDamtew #GratefulforMyJourney
“I’ve been reflecting on my journey in the hair industry and can’t help but be incredibly grateful for how my path unfolded.”
So, what was it like to actually tour with one of the most recognized and admired women in America’s history?! Ten years ago, with a clear head and awareness of the special opportunity in front of her (read more about how she was invited to work with the Obama family in Part I), Yene packed up her life in California in just two weeks and soon found herself across the nation in Washington D.C. Yene’s upbringing in Los Angeles prepared her for seeing and interacting with high-profile celebrities and public figures. When she first met the Obama family, Yene says, “Of course, I was nervous, but… my approach was to treat them like any other person. Like all clients, you have to focus on what makes you relatable, rather than what separates you.”
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Mrs. Michelle Obama for the December cover of @ElleUSA.⠀ ⠀ I am honored and humbled to be a part of this moment!⠀ ⠀ Tomorrow, we will all get to hear from Mrs. Obama in her memoir, Becoming. I’m inspired by her story every day and I’m grateful that the world will get to know the Mrs. Obama I’ve been blessed to work with and get to know over the years. Mrs. Obama’s deeply personal reflections on her journey will resonate with every reader.⠀ ⠀ Thank you to the amazing artists who worked on this shoot for @ElleUSA. Friends, please support by purchasing an issue on newsstands now! I’m grateful to be surrounded by such incredible professionals in this industry.⠀ ⠀ Editor-in-chief: @ninagarcia⠀ Creative director: #stephengan⠀ Photographer: @millermobley⠀ Stylist: @meredithkoop⠀ Hair: @yenedamtew⠀ Makeup: @carlraymua⠀ ⠀ #HairByYeneDamtew⠀ #ElleMag⠀ #IamBecoming A post shared by Yene Damtew | Salon Biz Mentor (@yenedamtew) on
“I’m inspired by her story every day and I’m grateful that the world will get to know the Mrs. Obama I’ve been blessed to work with and get to know over the years.”
Soon, she was traveling across the country for Mrs. Obama’s Becoming book tour. “The tour kicked off in November 2018 and wrapped in May of 2019. I traveled with Mrs. Obama through the tour and it was a memorable experience. We had a schedule outlined and it allowed me to ensure I was there for the experience.”
After going to every stop during the book tour in 2018, last night I finally sat in the audience to hear an intimate conversation between Valerie Jarrett and Michelle Obama. Although I have had the honor of getting to know both of these women over the past decade, last night they filled my heart with so much love, compassion and hope. Their authentically raw conversation allowed me to see a different side and gave me more reason to admire them both oh so much more. The first leg of the book tour was incredible and the second leg will be just as inspiring. Round two, we are coming for you. #iambecoming
The Becoming tour covered more than 30 cities in both North America and Europe. Working with a talented team of artists and stylists, including makeup artist Carl Ray and wardrobe stylist Meredith Koop, Yene quickly became an essential element of Mrs. Obama’s tour team. Her styling has been recognized not only by the thousands of attendees at the tour’s live events, but also noted in Allure, Refinery 29, and The Zoe Report.
Now, the question is “what’s next?” With the book tour now complete, Yene is hard at work at Aesthetics Salon and plans to branch out into more education opportunities. Follow her journey on Instagram!