As part of Face2Face Africa’s commitment to informing and connecting black people around the world, we have resolved to devote each day of the month of March to celebrate black women inventors and to highlight their inventions.
A lot of women wear weaves but know little about the woman who invented it. A scientist and inventor by the name of Christina M. Jenkins is largely credited for creating the hair weaving process.
In 1949, Jenkins worked at a wig manufacturer in Chicago, and while there began working on a technique to make a more secure fitting wig. She then moved to Malvern, Ohio and began studying how sewing in commercial hair with a person’s natural hair added length and body.
In 1951, she filed a patent for her “HairWeev” technique – adding synthetic extensions by sewing hair onto cornrows, a process some historians say date back to ancient Egypt. She was the granted the patent in 1952. Jenkins owned and operated Christina’s HairWeeve Penthouse Salon in the Shaker Heights section of Cleveland until 1993. She also taught her hair weaving techniques at hair shows across Europe.
Little is known of Jenkins’ early life, other than being born Christina Mae Thomas in Louisiana on Christmas Day in 1920. In 1943, she graduated from Leland College near Baton Rouge with a degree in science. She was married to jazz pianist Herman “Duke” Jenkins with whom she raised one daughter, Ms. Shelia Jenkins-Cochran.
Late Ohio U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones commended Jenkins for her invention and praised her for her “revolutionary contribution” in a statement in 2003, shortly after Jenkins’ death at the age of 82.