Updated: May 2, 2021
2020 has given us all a chance to look at life, and to re-evaluate the plans we had made and the goals we had set for out for the future. With the global economic crisis, for those of us looking to travel for extended periods or even to live in another country the options may look bleak at the moment. 2020 has made many of us feel dismayed at the uncertainty of the future.
However, all hope is not lost, actually the quarantine has flung the door wide open for individuals to explore new creative ventures- even on a low budget! An amazing offshoot of the quarantine is the growing presence and rapid proliferation of start-up, social media businesses.
2020 may actually surprise you, as it did for me, by pushing you into the realm of entrepreneurship. Yes fam, we can still make them coins!
Freelance work has always frightened me from the insecurity and inconsistency of the salary.
So one day I thought to myself:
"What is something that everyone needs that will always be in demand?"
Hair constitutes a massive part of our lives and identity. It only really takes bad hair to ruin a WHOLE day, I know I’ve had my days where I’ve tried to avoid everyone in the office or days where I’ve been late to events because my hair wasn’t slicked and slayed. “Your hair is your crown and glory” it’s like a phrase we all abide by and know. Hair adds persona and uniqueness, it defines who you want to be in that moment. Today I could be office Maleeka with the cute box braids, by tomorrow I could be Melosa the poledancer with the 30 inch blonde wig. Let's not play. When your friends, your partner or strangers compliment your hair, it goes straight to your head. Hair is something almost everyone cares about and as a 92.5 billion dollar industry, sis, there is money to be made.
Hair failures abroad 😫
We underestimate the importance of hair when we travel abroad. I have found that throughout my years of travelling one thing I have too often underprepared for is hair maintenance.
I’ll give you an example.
In 2016 I moved to California for a year. What I wasn’t prepared for was how expensive grooming is in California. I was studying at UCSB, which at the time had a black population which hovered on around 3-4 % (depending on who you asked around the college). This was a massive problem at the time, not just for the lack of representation, but for the inability to find services to service black individuals. There was only one black person at the college who I knew who could do hair, she had midterms, exams and coursework just like the rest of us- she was short for time just like the rest of us. At times I would literally beg her to do my hair.
I wore weaves with a closure that needed to be refreshed every month. At the time wigs were not in fashion (oh how times have changed) it was weaves or braids and I couldn’t do either. One day I managed to bribe my partner at the time to drive me to the hair salon. I will never forget the price - for my braids to reach my shoulders 180 dollars was the bill. I did that thing where you pretend to shuffle around in your bag - for a bit like Rose Armitage in Get Out - to act like I had left my purse at home. This was the first transaction out of my savings account. As a college student, this was my grocery money, so I lived on Ramen for the rest of the month.
I relied on the one college student for the remainder of my time to do my hair for me, which added additional stress to my monthly school terms. To think now, all of this could have been avoided.
Hair care, particularly protective styling is not only important for keeping your hair healthy, it can also be a significant income when you’re stuck for money, looking for extra income or wanting to really embrace the nomadic lifestyle.
This is not to underestimate the skills or the training of professional hairdressers. The DIY standard may not be perfect, it won’t be the salon standard*, it will be hard to learn and can be time consuming. However, I know at times when I have travelled I have too often found it extremely difficult to find a hairdresser to cater to my 4c hair, and have watched those around me struggle also. This is particularly important for people of colour with hair that needs a stylist who understands our hair type.
In addition to this protective styling also safeguards you from occasions that may require a little more TLC...
Such as after water sport
Don't underestimate yourself
Recently I tried out knotless braids. The most I had done to my hair before this was cainrows/cornrows to fit a wig on the top. This alone took me months to perfect and a lot of persistence, but relieves me of the pressure of having to book in an install every month.
I completed the knotless braids after work over a period of 4 days, it took a total of 20 hours. I binge watched Insecure while watching YouTube tutorials on how to do the braids, so it wasn't so bad. This was my first time doing single plaits on my hair. I wanted the length and thickness practically to reach my knees without spending an arm and a leg to do it. I did get frustrated, I was up all night, I was exhausted by the end of it, but with the turnout I would say it was all worth the time.
This image below is two and a half weeks after I completed the braids.
Right now is the perfect time to learn this new skill- we may never have this much available time again. Learning this skill and monetizing it while travelling abroad can be great for networking, for new experiences, can immerse you in new cultures and settings and is also awesome for making life-long friends! You can learn almost anything from one click on YouTube. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instragram and TicTok are blowing up with self-taught hairstylists, artists, creators and other entrepreneurs.
It is literally the hay day for entrepreneurship.
Take advantage of this moment now.
*Please note You will need to be registered as self- employed and have the appropriate licenses, certifications and insurance if you wish to pursue and advertise your skills professionally.