When did you start your journey?I would say that my journey began way before I could even recognize it for myself. My mother was a home based stylist in the Midwest and the earliest memory she expressed to me was being two years old saying that I wanted to do beauty just like her. That was so funny to me hearing that as a adult because I truly had no idea that statement would lead me to where I am today as a natural hair care specialist in the beauty industry. My earliest memory of my journey began around age 9 when my aunt who I looked up to showed me how to braid for the first time. I remember her being a braider , and she taught me. That indeed sparked the activation of my gifted hands. Little did I know the very skill she infused in me would be the one to not only change my life but the lives of many.
Did you get any time to reflect on how far you came?You know it’s often difficult to acknowledge your own accomplishments and steps. However, when I turned 33 last year I had a moment. In the midst of a very difficult storm in my life. Where I began to dissect what was happening around me. I heard a small voice in my head say be grateful for what you have. I was complaining and being hard on myself because of where I was in life currently. All things seemingly falling apart and then I was reminded of how truly blessed I have been. I am a mother of 5 children. Ages 15 to 2 years old. My gift started out as a hobby. Just something I did to pass time by. At 13 years old I was in middle school braiding my first crush hair lol. I was being asked by adults to do there braids. So, apparently I was good. Well, good enough that they would walk around in public with my braids. I did hair for my friends, for there parents, for my cousins, for my sister, my brothers lol. Let’s just say I was that braider. When important events came up I was recruited to do everyone’s hair. For prom, homecoming or just because. I had my first son at 17 years old. And when this was my reality I had to rely on my two hands to make any money that I could. Back then in 2007 i did braids for $25 a head. Yes, anything to get me some dollars . Over the years I have had so many jobs, I stopped counting at 20, because I would work one day on a job. Realize it’s not for me and quit the next day. I did this for quite sometime. From the time I completed high school in 2008 till 2017 when I decided that hair is really my life. And I can’t keep straddling the fence. I was miserable at my corporate job because I yearned for more freedom and flexibility. So, I walked away from my job paying $21/hour and decided to put my all into my journey , myself as a hair braider. Not, even knowing how I would make it solely on hair money because I had no consistent clientele at that time.But, I did it I walked away. And fast forward here I am today. A solo professional who has been a entrepreneur for the last 6 years. Relying solely on my two hands to fund my lifestyle.
What’s the hardest part of your job?The hardest part of my job I have to say varies. The life of a solo professional is not for the weak lol. Some days you can count on income and some days there is no income. You have to wear many hats to be successful in this industry. I’ve learned quickly that my hobby, my skill, my gift was a business. That I am providing a service that impacts other people lives either positively or negatively. That comes with great responsibility. Because when I am having a bad mood and I have to service clients. I have to shift my mood so my clients do not receive my negative energy. This itself is a skill you know. Because sometimes I just want to be in a bad mood all day lol. But, that would be unfair to my client. So, shifting my mood and showing up every day to offer my clients a safe place is challenging at times. It’s like no matter what I am facing personally I have to show up for my clients. My energy impacts there’s. Another hard part I could mention, is being the servicer, the marketer, the editor, the photographer, the manager, this gets pretty tiresome when you don’t have a team behind you. Braids can take sometimes 9-10 plus hours consistently. I am only one person with two hands and a lot of mouths to feed lol. So, you get my drift. I really can only do so much in one day without completely burning myself out.
Do you have anything new to tell the upcoming professionals who do what do?I would tell any upcoming braid professionals to understand that your gift is your gift from GOD. It is special and unique to you. It is no accident that you can do hair that means you are a servicer. You carry a special role in humanity. So, never underestimate the power in your gift. Continue to learn and grow and perfect your skills so you can always rely on your two hands. Understand that everything is a process so surround yourself early on with woman who have been where you once were. Learn as much and you can and be open minded. It is so necessary to find a mentor in this profession, because it will be days you want to quit. You will feel defeated rather you are really successful or not yet. It won’t matter, you will be tested with great opposition. But, don’t stop. I wish someone would have broken this down to me. Because I wanted to quit so bad at times. Even tho I have talent I felt either extremely overwhelmed or just not productive enough. Oh, and practice meditation daily to keep your mind center and to release all negative or limited beliefs you are carrying. This is a major key.
What’s does collaborating mean to you and how does it relate to you and your brand today?Collaborating is EVERYTHING ok. And I mean everything. I learned on year 3 of this solo- entrepreneurship journey that I simply can not do this alone. There is just no way, I was spending early morning and long nights servicing clients. 13-15 hours a day. No off days, no breaks. And all though I’ve made the most money I’ve ever made that year about 80 grand. I was so burned out, my kids were unengaged, my relationship was dissolving. I was a Zombie. Just running myself as a machine. That is the year I constructed a plan to build a network . That if I wanting to scale and continue to grow I could not do it alone. I needed to train/ mentor and develop a flow to allow more ease and comfort while servicing clients. This lead me to develop the true P. O. P. ’N brand the Power of Partnership. My motto is Together we WILL. A very wise man told me “If you want to go fast go alone” but if you want to go far, go together” that stuck with me.
Why did you get into your niche?My purpose for my niche was to target young girls starting at the age of 9. And assisting them with the fundamentals skills of braiding. Growing up in a small city of East Chicago Indiana where every one knew everyone. I saw a lot of people never leave the city. The poverty rate is high and if you don’t make it out by scholarship with sports more than likely you will die or retire in that city. My goal is to use the skill that was passed on to me to give it to others. To show them there is a way to provide for yourself and family without turning to the streets. You don’t have to sell your body or be involved in criminal activity to make a living. You can use your two hands to fund any dream you can imagine. I want to bring back HOPE to young girls. Eliminating more teen pregnancies by offering another solution. It took me many years of struggle to realize there is a bigger life out there. That we were created to have and live a better life. Not, always having to rob Peter to pay Paul sort of speak.
Where do you see yourself/brand in the next 5 years?Oh my. With GOD Grace & mercy in 5 years I see myself opening a POP’N Braid Academy. Servicing all cultures and races. Braids speak a universal language there is so much history in braids throughout different cultures that is indeed a RICH lifestyle. Bridging the gap of diversity by the common love we share of braids. To be able to convey to the world the true essence of braids is my passion. We will be the “ Amazon” of braids. From Braiding and training in my garage to having full service high quality braiding trucks dispatched across the globe. Giving individuals the ability to access service providers in your area through your phone on the go. Hosting virtual and in person seminars on the importance of self love. Because it truly starts with self first. To sum it up creating a entire NEW POP’N world. This is not limited to braids thought because through community and partnerships we will be providing one centralized place with a trusted network of affiliates an exclusive directory in place to assist one’s mind, body, and over all well being. Now that’s the Power of Partnership.