Charlotte Mensah is renowned for her expertise in working with natural African hair. She has garnered international acclaim as an award-wining stylist to an impressive roster of celebrity clients including Zadie Smith, Michaela Coel and Erykah Badu, among others. She is also the owner of the highly respected Hair Lounge on London’s Portobello Road and has her own line of haircare products, Manketti by Charlotte Mensah.
Her newest product, the Manketti Oil Salt Scrub, was unveiled at The Belvedere, an event graced by her close friend, British Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful among other esteemed guests. but while Charlotte is based in London, she grew up in Darkuman near North Kaneshie in the Greater Region of Ghana, in a family compound built by her grandparents. “It was a multi-generational household where love shone through. I spent my early years running around with my siblings, my cousins and kids in the local community under the stewardship of my grandparents,” says Charlotte.
— The Manketti Oil Salt Scrub is the perfect blend of sea salts from Prampram _ pink salt from the Himalayas. Restoring the balance required to improve scalp health and increase hair growth
“Growing up in Darkuman is the foundation of what you see me doing now. It was where my love of hair was born, and through observation, it’s where my entrepreneurial zeal came from. I found myself fascinated by the wondrous hairstyles that typified Accra of the 1970s and 1980s. I found myself inspired by the matriarchal figure that was my grandmother, Mama, who ruled the household with diligence and love. The same could be said of my grandfather, Dada, a director at the now-defunct Tata Breweries. I got a sense of what could be achieved by seeing him in action. I remember when he bought a TV set, the first in our neighbourhood. Everybody would come to our compound to watch.”
Charlotte visits Ghana about three to four times a year. “The streets are my house and my neighbourhood, East Legon. What I miss when I’m not in Ghana is the food! The fresh ingredients. A trip to Madina or Mokola market is always high on my list. The hustle and bustle, the different voices chattering. I love it,” she adds.
What does luxury mean to you?
To me luxury is comfort, and often what is comfortable is familiar. I holiday most in Ghana, where I spent most of my formative years – my first home. I’ve spent the last few years recreating what home means to me in Ghana. So when I think of luxury, I think of my house in Ghana. A place that feels familiar and calm.
Which is your favourite hotel in Ghana?
Royal Senchi in Akosombo was an amazing experience, as was Hillburi in Aburi. When I take time out of the city, those are the places I’ve gone. Whether for a day or a weekend, that kind of quiet luxury is needed. Especially in the times of Detty December.
How has Ghana transformed in the luxury sector over the years, particularly with its homecoming offering?
Demand is at an all-time high, and the demographics of those coming to Ghana mean a level of luxury is required. There is a concerted effort to cater to these visitors. A great example is food. In the last few years, there has been an ushering in of a more Western style of high-end dining. Places like Kozo and Santoku are good examples of this – Western in concept, but still very Ghanaian in terms of experience.
What would you say Ghana’s appeal is to the world’s elite?
Culture meets fun. I’ve found that many people visiting are African Americans, and I love it. Ghana, like the other coastal West African countries, is a gateway to a very personal and intimate Black history. It allows many to feel connected to something that they may only be connected to in name (African American). At the same time, Accra is fun. We now have an array of festivals, brunches and clubs that are frequented by the world’s top talents.
The beauty of Ghana is multifaceted – from its vibrant urban life to its serene coastlines. Which three places are must-visits for a blend of heritage and luxury?
Cape Coast & Elmina Castle
These speak for themselves and are obligatory for a visit to Ghana. One must understand the past to go forward. And better yet, understand the past from a perspective that is not widely available outside of the country. This is where you can find it.
Located in Jamestown, the genesis of Accra – where the city is built out from. Founded by architect Joe, the Jamestown café is a place of gathering first and foremost. A place of culture, for food and ultimately a place where people can express themselves. Take a walk through the neighbourhood and get lost in the Ga Mashie. is real Accra.
This is a beautiful beach and area off the beaten path in the Central Region. This is where I go to feel still and calm. It’s not too busy, and when it is, it’s just locals having fun.
Knowing you love to be in the kitchen, what meal would you prepare for friends from out of town to give them a taste of Ghana?
Spicy fried chicken, spinach stew and rice. The chicken goes well with everything, and there’s a very Ghanaian way of seasoning that will immediately create a memory for anyone trying it for the first time. Spinach stew (kontomire) is a personal favourite of mine. When I eat spinach stew, I think of my childhood in Darkuman.
Where should one visit for an authentic Ghanaian gourmet experience?
Buka is the best place for authentic food in a restaurant setting. If you want truly authentic food outside of a restaurant setting, watch where the locals eat – if they’re not eating at home you will find them outside the cooking spots of their local and trusted street vendors. This is where the true Ghanaian experience lies. Menus change every day based on what is available.
For those who’ve never been to the Hair Lounge, how do you use your newly launched Manketti Oil Salt Scrub.
The idea of the salt scrub came from my Aunty Vida, who used locally sourced sea salts on her skin. She passed away a few years ago, but even in her final days, her skin was immaculate. It got me thinking: could salts have the same detoxifying results on hair as they have on skin? I put it to the test on myself and my kids, and then introduced it to my clients at the salon, and it became the most requested service within weeks. The salt scrub has been formulated to target some of the most common scalp concerns, this exfoliating scrub restores the balance required for optimum scalp health and increased hair growth.
The product removes dead skin, excess oil and product residue. This, consequently, hydrates hair and soothes the scalp.
The scrub is to be used on a weekly basis as follows:
- Apply a generous amount onto damp roots.
- Gently massage into the scalp using circular motions.
- Work across the entire head and nape of the neck for 10–15 minutes.
- Rinse hair thoroughly.
- Follow up with Manketti Oil Shampoo & Conditioner
Charlotte’s products can be found at https://www.charlottemensah.com/shop-online