In 1951, Christina M. Jenkins submitted a patent “hairweeve.” A former wig company employee, Jenkins created a new process of adding synthetic extensions by sewing hair onto cornrows. Similar to Madam C.J. Walker, she opened her own cosmetology school to teach others her technique.
Christina Mae Thomas was born Christmas Day in 1920, although there are conflicting dates regarding her day of birth. She was born in Louisiana but details of her early life are scarce. What is known is that she graduated from Leland College near Baton Rouge with a degree in science in 1943.
Jenkins started work at a wig manufacturer in Chicago and in 1949, she 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. Thus in 1951, Jenkins filed a patent for her “HairWeev” technique, which was granted in 1952.
Jenkins owned and operated her 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. Jenkins was married to jazz pianist Herman “Duke” Jenkins and raised one daughter together, Ms. Shelia Jenkins-Cochran.
There is some dispute over Jenkins’ claim to the hair weave as some historians stated that the technique was used in a similar fashion dating back to ancient Egypt.
The late Ohio U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones commended Jenkins for her invention and praised her for her “revolutionary contribution”. The statement was made in 2003, shortly after Jenkins’ death at the age of 82.