EAC Friday Feature: Amber Love

Friday Aug 25th, 2023

Copy of Interview 10 questions 1

Traditional Arts in Northwest Pennsylvania. Interview with Amber Love

Amber head shot

Amber Love

-Written by Kelly Armor, Edited by Nat Richmond


Amber Love, Hair Artist


Amber Love’s art is at the intersection of community, personal empowerment and self-expression – she is a hair artist and self described hair doctor. Right now she travels to different senior programs as a hair stylist. She specializes in seniors, veterans, school aged children and working parents. She explains, “I taught myself to do my own cornrows when I was ten so I have 34 plus years experience and I’ve been licensed for 16.”  She learned her craft formally at Toni & Guy cosmetology program, but has been fascinated with her hair all her life. She says, “I'm first generation in cultivating black hair traditions on my mother’s side. My dad is Black, my mom is white...My mom raised us in love and she did the best that she could with my hair. Our go to hair product was Posner’s coconut oil. She knew that she didn’t know and she asked many questions. She realized that my crown of glory needed expertise she didn’t have.”


Amber is a Black woman and grew up in a household with a white mother and older white siblings. She attended St. Joseph’s Elementary school where there were only a handful of Black students. She can still vividly describe everyone’s hairstyles. Around that time Amber had an “aha moment” and learned that it is common in the Black community to go to a salon every week. She also remembers sitting in church and carefully observing the backs of everyone’s heads and having the realization that knowing what you look like in the back is important. “Hair is an ornament and it shows respect. It tells a story of the person and what they may be going through.” 


She credits the Boys & Girls Club for changing her life in 1988. “I was exposed to different arts and exercise programs, cultures, and it was a significant time. We were raised in a lens of love in our home and color wasn't major. When I went to the club, I saw other people like me. I saw different kinds of curls, and page boys, and braids and beads.” 


When asked specifically about Black hair culture she says, “It starts in the kitchen. For me it started when my kids were sitting on the floor and I worked to give them perfect parts.” She has four daughters and two sons and used to spend long hours braiding their hair. “It's about building relationships. It's closeness. It’s showing love.” Her values now extend to her customers today. “People are already prepared if they picked me to do their hair. They're already on a level of trust with me. Part of my consultation is being skilled in hair and in communication. Hair is a sacred art, hence I am a hair doctor. There's healing in the shampoo bowl. People just relax. I see burdens come off them.”


Amber has worked in corporate salons. She enjoyed a wide clientele that included many cultures and hair types but ultimately found the corporate environment was not satisfying for her soul. Their business model stressed working quickly with many customers to bring in more money. “They said I did a great job but I took too long. I love to talk to people, to introduce them to different products. I didn’t want to rush.”  She is working on her dream of running a mobile hair salon called Ambience by Amber. “My passion and purpose is to support man, woman and child, and cultivate an environment of safety where we can embrace ourselves where we're at and create a community through hair. Ambience by Amber is for the whole person: spirit, soul and body. The atmosphere is key. It creates that one-on-one relationship and it begins with ourselves and spirals out to our families, then our neighborhood, and then our city.”

Erie Arts & Culture is a proud Folk & Traditional Arts Partner of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. We are responsible for identifying folk artists and tradition bearers, creating more awareness of folk art and helping communities keep their traditions in Erie, Warren, Crawford, Lawrence, Mercer, and Venango counties.

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Erie Arts & Culture

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