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Celebrity hairstylist Benjamin Mohapi was born in a seaside town in Wales and made his way to London to begin his career at an early age. Now recognized as one of L.A.'s premier talents in the industry, Mohapi celebrates his salon’s second location, Benjamin Arts District at One Santa Fe.
On any given day, the soft spoken Mohapi is crisply dressed, wearing his signature fedora, adorned with old school Basquiat tattoos that snake up his arms. The music playing in the salon reflects his tastes, which range from classic punk rock and new wave, to indie pop and Mozart. He is as interested as he is interesting, perhaps representing the eclectic diversity that has become L.A.’s trademark.
“I moved here originally to continue doing what I had been doing in London, which was working on celebrity hair," says Mohapi. "I've lived in L.A. for 7 years now and I love it - I've loved every single day of it. L.A. is the most exciting city right now. It all feels new here. London, Paris, and New York seem like they've seen it all and done it all, but L.A. feels young and interested in everything. It's great to be part of a city that has that kind of energy. Everything seems possible.”
Mohapi’s Arts District salon first found its niche as a creative melting pot in 2012, at Benjamin with Negin Zand in West Hollywood. The culture of the salon has a cool, yet comforting vibe, outwardly friendly and without drama. There, the well groomed, “creative first” credo was established, even hosting art history lessons for its team. Recently the salon began publishing its own biannual fanzine, packed with art and articles contributed by the stylists and even a few clients.
Consequently, first impressions of the Arts District outpost are deceptive. The clean, well-appointed space looks like a contemporary gallery supporting mid-career and upcoming names in the art world - yet, it is indeed one of L.A.'s premier hair salons. Yes, everything here is carefully curated and art on the walls is for sale, which will suit Benjamin’s new neighborhood perfectly alongside iconic gallery Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, the inventive hand made goods at Poketo, and the stylish Apolis at One Santa Fe.
The décor of Benjamin's bright 1,620 square-foot space maintains Mohapi’s aesthetic - edgy yet classic, with 11 talented stylists. “I love the light here. Working as much as I have on photo and film shoots the 'framing' of everything I see is a constant and this light makes everything look great. Living here will always feel like living in a movie.”
While the non-conformist ideal of the Arts District neighborhood is in line with the mission and culture of Benjamin salon, there is one piece of traditional advice Mohapi would give to anyone starting their own business in L.A: work hard. “[Starting a business in Los Angeles] is by far the hardest thing I've ever done but also the best thing I've ever done,” he explains. “I don't think there's a secret formula to any kind of success, I think you just keep going. Every now and again you get to look up and see what you've achieved but don’t dwell on that long because there's always more to do.”
Learn more and enroll in this offer at americanexpress.com/shopsmalloffer. With the addition of more than 90,000 Los Angeles-area locations to the American Express network over the past two years*, Card Members now have more places than ever before to Shop Small in Los Angeles.
*Based on internal comparison of American Express small merchant locations in December 2013 to American Express small merchant locations in December 2015.