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Adrian Carew – What Can’t He Do?

He wants to teach the world how to manage Black and ethnic hair.

He wants to teach the world how to manage Black and ethnic hair

NameAdrian Hamilton Matthew CarewBirthSeptember 30, 1969BirthplaceSt. James, BarbadosEthnic OriginBarbadianOccupationsHairstylist, Salon Owner, InstructorWebsiteadriancarew.comShare
Fact checked by Charmaine Gooden
Proofread and copy edited by Carol Martin

Early Life and Career

Adrian Carew is a Toronto-based hairstylist from the Caribbean who is making great strides in the fashion industry while fighting racial prejudices along the way.

Born and raised in Barbados, Carew made the life-altering decision to move to Toronto in 1989. According to Carew, his mother was known as the best hairstylist back home in Barbados. When he first arrived in Canada, he had no interest in following in her footsteps into the hair industry, explains a Facebook post by Barbados Heritage UK. Hairdressing was merely something to fall back on.

Carew has been hairdressing in Toronto for 30 years, but his initial plans never foresaw a transition into the television and fashion industries. However, with years of unique work behind him and a distinct knack for creativity, Carew’s life took a turn, and he now works with some of the biggest brands and dozens of celebrities, landing Vogue covers along the way.

“Adrian is detailed, professional and incredibly creative,” says Lance Eng, Carew’s producer and owner of Actors & Artists Management in Toronto. “He can look at a mood board and immediately be like, ‘why don’t we try this’?

Eng continues, “He would always come up with better [Adrian] suggestions for how the hair should go, according to the outfits and everything else. He can always put something together that just looks incredible.”

 

 

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Sometimes we aren’t recognized and don’t get the opportunities we deserve to get things done, even when some of them already know we can do the job. They’ll still give the job to somebody else and there’s issues with that.

Breaking Barriers

Despite Carew’s remarkable talent and hard work, the racial barriers in the industry have prevented his journey from being a smooth one.

As Carew explains,“Sometimes we aren’t recognized and don’t get the opportunities we deserve to get things done, even when some already know we can do the job. They’ll still give the job to somebody else and there’s issues with that.”

Eng says that Carew will often get calls to work on Black models since a lot of other stylists are incapable of working on textured hair.

However, “In a lot of our work over the last two years, he’s done Caucasian models, he’s done Asian models, he’s done Black models. I wanted him to get a range out there, and now he can basically do anybody,” says Eng. “I think that that should be the case for a lot of Black artists in the industry. They shouldn’t be pigeonholed. They need to come across as just artists.”

In spite of all the obstacles he’s faced, Carew says you can’t just stop. “I live in the now, I enjoy the now. I just have to deal with life as it is right now.”

And Carew’s methods seem to be working for him. He has been featured in dozens of magazines, including Vogue Italia, Vanity Flair, L’OFFICIEL Australia, Flare, Salon Magazine, Elle Canada, Mob Journal, Caribbean Bride and Canadian Hairdresser.

Influence and Legacy

Carew has been in Canada for more than 30 years, but his love  of his culture and the unbreakable ties to his homeland is still what inspires his work.

David Hou, a fashion and advertising photographer, who has worked with Carew on a number of magazine editorials, says that Carew’s work is both meaningful and impressive.

“People don’t read magazines just to see beautiful pictures. Without a story, there’s no reason why we’d want to publish them. And that’s why, you know, initially when we worked on some of the hair projects, I asked Adrian where his inspiration was coming from. We got into a lot of stories about his mom, and his life, and the Caribbean culture.”

As Carew continues to establish himself and grow in popularity, he also seeks to teach the next generation of hairstylists an important task: how to work on textured hair.

“He comes with so much professional experience,” says Eng. “I think the thing about him is that he really is all about teaching other people the knowledge. That way, another generation can achieve the same standard. He’s incredibly generous that way.”

Being based in Toronto where fashion is still quite provincial, stylists may produce great work, but getting attention from other parts of the world continues to be difficult.

In that regard, Celia Sears, President and CEO of  Show Division based in Milan, has worked with Carew for years in Toronto and sees a future of more international recognition.“Hairstylist extraordinaire Adrian Carew has coiffed countless  celebrities, recording artists, supermodels and beauty queens over the span of his career, “ says Sears. ”Adrian’s latest achievements are being  key hairstylist for 2022 LVMH Prize finalist Tokyo James and the ‘Fab 5’ top Afro-Italian designers for Milan Fashion Week.  He is also an Educator for Show Division’s Inclusive Backstage Masterclass held in Milan each season.”

With Carew already on a strong, successful path, we’re excited to see what the future holds for him, internationally.

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