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James Harris

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Information about James Harris

Profile image of James Harris

Profession

Category:
StyleMakers
Occupation(s):
Hairstylist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Soul Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Southern France
Favorite Quote:
Don't Stop 'Til You Get It Right.

Birthplace

Born:
10/20/1948
Birth Location:
Boston, Massachusetts

Profession

Category:
StyleMakers
Occupation(s):
Hairstylist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Soul Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Southern France
Favorite Quote:
Don't Stop 'Til You Get It Right.

Birthplace

Born:
10/20/1948
Birth Location:
Boston
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Biography

Hair stylist James Harris was born on October 20, 1948, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Emma J. Jones-Harris, a supervisor for the Boston City Hospitals, and Grover Harris, owner of a demolition and trucking company. His aunt was a hairdresser and his uncle was a barber. By the time Harris was twelve years old, he knew that he wanted to become a hair stylist. Harris attended the Newman Preparatory School High School for Boys in Boston, Massachusetts. He and a friend purchased wigs wholesale and sold them while in high school, and at the age of eighteen, Harris had his first paying client.

After graduating from high school in 1967, Harris he started a career as a hair stylist. He toured the United States with Summit Labs, an African American hair care manufacturing company. In 1972, Harris was a member of the first African American team to win an International Beauty Show. Harris earned a degree from La Newton School of Beauty in Roxbury, Massachusetts, developed products with Revlon and opened his first salon, the Libra Studio, in Mattapan, Massachusetts, all in 1974. In efforts to revolutionize the hair industry, Harris established the Hairmetrics hair care training center with stylist Olive Benson that same year. Hairmetrics was the first advanced hair training center in the world. Shortly after the opening of Hairmetrics, Harris sold his Boston salon and moved to New York in 1977 to become the styles director for Soul Scissors, the country’s first black salon chain. In 1980, Harris helped create Shear Energy, an advanced hair designing system for excessively curly hair. That next year, he started working with Glemby International Beauty Salons as president of the Black Hair Is line. In 1991, Harris became the first African American male member of Intercoiffure, an organization of elite hair stylists and salon owners. He stayed at Glemby International Beauty Salons until 1997, when he opened the Mahogany Door Beauty Center & Spa in Harlem. After three years, he left the salon and started working at L’Oreal in a variety of capacities. He remained with L’Oreal until 2007, when he decided to return to the salon industry and established the James Harris Salon in Boston and New York.

Harris is the founder of the African American stylists’ organization, Hair Fashion Group. He participated in fashion shows in South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire, France, Italy, Spain, Brazil and other countries. He has collaborated with celebrities such as Diana Ross, Tyra Banks, Nancy Wilson and Patti LaBelle as well as designers Patrick Kelly, Betsey Johnson and Gucci.

James Harris was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 27, 2007.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Harris' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Harris lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Harris describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Harris talks about his aunt's professorship at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Harris describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Harris describes his parents' discipline
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Harris remembers his maternal and paternal grandmothers
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Harris describes his earliest memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Harris describes his community in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Harris remembers joining the Nation of Islam
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - James Harris describes his relationship to religion
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - James Harris lists his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - James Harris recalls his neighborhood growing up
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - James Harris remembers the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - James Harris remembers family holidays
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Harris recalls his experiences at the St. John School in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Harris remembers the integrated Oliver Wendell Holmes School in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Harris remembers the school desegregation in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Harris recalls his experiences at a majority-white high school in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Harris describes his start as a hair stylist
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Harris talks about working as a wig stylist
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Harris describes how he came to join the Boston Hair Fashion Guild
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Harris recalls training at the Wilfred Academy of Hair and Beauty Culture in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Harris remembers the all-white Newman School for Boys in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Harris remembers leaving Morehouse College to open a hair salon
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Harris talks about his experiences in Paris, France, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Harris talks about his experiences in Paris, France, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Harris remembers Libra Studios and the Hairmetrics training center in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Harris recalls his experiences at the International Beauty Show
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Harris talks about designer Patrick Kelly
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Harris recalls founding Shear Energy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Harris remembers working for Revlon, Inc.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Harris recalls how he came to open a salon in New York City
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Harris describes his work with model Naomi Sims
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - James Harris talks about the James Harris New York salon
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Harris talks about the changes in majority beauty standards
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Harris talks about his mentorship of makeup artist Sam Fine
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Harris remembers joining Intercoiffure
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Harris describes the Hair Fashion Group
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Harris talks about the ownership of black beauty companies
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Harris describes his hopes for the Hair Fashion Group
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Harris talks about the Mahogany Door Beauty Center and Spa in New York City
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Harris recalls his talk show appearances
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Harris talks about his celebrity clientele
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - James Harris talks about his plans for the Hair Fashion Group
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - James Harris reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - James Harris describes how he would like to be remembered