A black girl and her hair
“Going natural is one of the scariest decisions a black woman can make in her life.”
Like most teenagers, I was at a point where I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Being a senior in high school at the time, my life was surrounded by college applications, standardized test scores, and a lot of stress about my future. And to top it off, my hair was severely heat damaged from years of wearing weaves and straightened ponytails. God, what a dilemma! During my final year of high school, I needed one more class to fill my schedule and a friend recommended that I take business, which was taught through the NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) organization . So I enrolled, with no prior interest or knowledge, and actually grew to love it. Our end of the year assignment was to create a product, make a business plan and financial model, and present it to the class. But riddled with senior-itis and lacking inspiration, I struggled to come up with an idea. It wasn’t until right before I got in the shower, with waist length box braids, that my revolutionary idea came about. I was doing my usual routine that consisted of stuffing my braids into leggings, wrapping the legs around my head, and tying them tightly in a knot. I then realized that a shower cap for girls with long braids was non-existent. And thus came The Shower Turban.
The next day in class, I told my teacher about my new idea and she approved. But there were only two days left until the final assignment was due and she was not going to extend the deadline. So I worked extra hard to develop a whole new business model and constructed my first prototype. Within the next few days, I was able to present Kinky Kaps to a classroom full of my peers. I then took first place in our in-class competition and was asked to pitch in against students from other schools in a preliminary round that just so happened to be the same day of my prom. I said absolutely not! But the NFTE faculty had strong faith in me and my product so they were persistent until I finally agreed. I won first place there as well slayed prom that very same night. After that was Regionals where I, believe it or not, took first place again. I was then honored as the EOY Youth Scholarship Recipient at the 2018 EOY Gala, which was UNREAL. That experience solidified my goal of becoming a successful female African American entrepreneur. I’ve had my eyes on the prize ever since.
After graduation, I did a program called Start-Up Summer through NFTE, where I further developed my business idea and finally advanced past the prototyping phase. At the end of the program, I pitched at an investment panel where I won $3’000. And in October, I flew to New York to compete against other students from around the US in a National Youth Entrepreneurship Competition. I won fifteen thousand dollars and the 2018 title of #1 Youth Entrepreneur in the country. My life had changed drastically within those 6 months. Before taking that business class in high school, my life had no direction and I was scared of what my future might hold. But now, I have found something that I’m passionate about. I can mix two things that I really love, hair and entrepreneurship, and make a little money in the process! This journey has been emotional, scary, and sweet all in one. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.