Real Life

How this kiwi mum took her life from prison to beauty parlour

After four stints in jail, Jasmine changed her world for her girl

When Hawke’s Bay mum Jasmine Tangohau walked into prison eight years ago for the fourth time, she made a life-changing decision. Newly pregnant with her daughter Armanii-Jewel, Jasmine vowed to never return. Instead, she wanted a clean slate so she could follow her dream of opening a salon and be the best mum she could.

Now the proud Māori beauty entrepreneur is a qualified senior hairdresser, eyelash technician and certified lash educator.

Since founding Lash Academy in Hastings early last year, Jasmine has trained around 30 students with similar backstories to her, while passing on her business knowledge.

“I love inspiring and empowering women,” enthuses the solo mum, 35, whose seven-year-old is her pride and joy. “My biggest passion is making people feel good.”

But Jasmine’s journey to becoming a lash guru was anything but perfect. After experiencing trauma as a little girl, including witnessing domestic violence and suffering sexual abuse, she fell into depression in her teenage years and that led to substance abuse.

By 14, Jasmine was heavily drinking. Following her fifth arrest for drink-driving at 21, she spent three months in Christchurch Women’s Prison.

Six months after her release, Jasmine sadly lost her beloved brother to suicide, which led her to go off the rails again and saw her return to jail at 23.

“I didn’t know how to cope and it sounds crazy, but I wanted to go back because it was a way out of it all. That time, I went to court prepared with my bag packed and photos so I didn’t feel alone in my little cell.”

Three months after her release, Jasmine made the decision to pursue her long-term dream of hairdressing. She moved to Auckland to train at Servilles hairdressing academy.

“I was living and breathing hairdressing, and working late nights in the academy salon, passing all the assessments,” she reveals. “I received the top award, which was a very proud moment as I never finished school.

Since she proved to be a natural talent, Jasmine was put on the salon floor while still a junior to do hair foils and cuts on customers, then taught to do lash extensions. She eventually qualified in both trades.

“After a while, I felt homesick, so I moved back to Hawke’s Bay, where I fell in love. We indulged a lot in alcohol and drugs. Suddenly, all my lash stuff, laptop and TV were sold so we could get drugs, and I ended up in that cycle again. I really was a mess.”

Jasmine’s days behind bars are firmly in the past.

Another jail stint followed and then another. But around a week before her final arrest in 2016, Jasmine found out she was pregnant.

“I thought, ‘I’m not living like this any more. This is where I change.’ I wanted a good life for my child, without abuse and with love.”

Five months pregnant, at age 28, she walked out of prison for the last time. The expectant mum was helped into a flat in Hawke’s Bay and advertised cheap at-home eyelash extension services on community pages.

She spent two years building up a clientele before opening her first salon. However, she gave up the lease when New Zealand went into lockdown.

In 2022, she used a Covid business loan to open another shop, which she has decorated with lots of hot pink. “It’s really nice, and I have a little team with an admin lady and apprentice,” she smiles.

When customers started coming in to have extensions removed that were poorly applied by other technicians, Jasmine thought about using her skills to train aspiring lash artists. She began studying to become an educator last year, through the global accreditation agency National Association of Lash Artists.

“It hasn’t been easy,” she admits. “I had to run raffles through the salon to help get finances I needed. I don’t have close whānau nearby, so I’m running my business and looking after my daughter by myself.”

But Jasmine’s excited to see where her venture takes her and hopes that sharing her story will inspire other women.

“There are so many people who go through what I did. I don’t want them to settle for that kind of life,” she says. “I went through hell, but I truly believe my daughter and I are in store for a really good life now.”

Lashings of love! The proud mum with daughter Armanii-Jewel.


If you’re struggling with alcohol or drugs, please call 0800 787 797, text 8681 or visit

For help with sexual harm, call 0800 044 334, text 4334 or visit

For the Suicide Crisis Helpline, phone 0508 TAUTOKO.

In an emergency, dial 111.

Get Woman’s Day home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 29% on a magazine subscription.

Related stories