How To Wrap Your Hair | Night Time Routine for Straight hair /Silk Press

But Charlene’s life is far from your average success story. Born in Boston in 1950, she was raised in Camden Street Projects, a low-income housing unit designated for veterans in the once predominantly black community of Roxbury. Because of her mother’s alcohol addiction, she was separated from her siblings at the age of 12 and bounced around foster homes until she became pregnant at 18.


Wanting to create a better life for her daughter, beauty school was one of the few options available for her and other women on public assistance. ”I knew I didn’t want to be behind a desk all day and my dyslexia would have only made the work more stressful,’’ she said. “I’d always been creative with my hands and used to braid hair so I figured I’d become a hairdresser.”

Charlene’s career began in the early ‘70s at Olive’s Hair Salon, which was the leading black hair salon in Boston and owned by master stylist Olive Benson who became Charlene’s mentor. Initially, Charlene found it difficult to gain the trust of the clients. “People saw my long soft wavy hair and light complexion, and didn’t believe I could do Black hair.” she says. Not letting stereotypes become a barrier, she focused on creating positive client interactions and paved her own way as a master hairstylist and sharing her head wrap technique.


By the 1980s, Charlene was a mogul opening three high-end salons in Massachusetts, a staging and decorating company and a private consulting business while raising her three children with her husband Ronald, a former firefighter. Representing companies like Soft Sheen and L’Oréal, Charlene incorporated the hair wrap throughout her shows, sharing the technique with audiences across the US, China, Brazil, and Europe.

Hair Tutorial: How to Wrap Medium Length Hair

With almost 50 years of experience, Charlene has styled some of the most renowned Black figures including Dr. Maya Angelou, Diahnne Carroll, Anita Baker, and Nancy Wilson. “My mother always told me to be the best. If I was a street sweeper, I needed to be the best street sweeper I could be. So I took that lesson and became the master stylist I am now. “

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Photo: Charlene Carroll

Closing her last salon in 2015, Charlene continues to put the shears to work with her private clientele. She is currently writing her memoir and continues to volunteer, a passion that has allowed her to share her story at youth centers, schools, and nonprofit organizations.


Jennifer Gil-Velazquez is an Afro-Dominican content and communications writer based on the East Coast.