How This Harlem Entrepreneur is Leveling the Playing Field for Workers in the Beauty Industry

by Xara Aziz
Credit: Vakella Wilson and PIX 11

Black mecca has another resident to thank after working to teach young women how to style hair while providing mentorship opportunities.  

Vakeela Wilson is a Harlem-based entrepreneur with a knack for helping people look beautiful through haircare. One of her clients is six-year-old Blake Monroe, who says she highly anticipates going to Wilson’s salon every six weeks to have her hair braided, according to a PIX 11 report.

Wilson told the news outlet that her passion for hair styling came at a young age and began working in the industry as soon as she could. However, she noticed that many stylists had difficulty managing natural hair, so she conceived an idea to create a training camp for Harlem’s youth.

According to Afro Lovely, “47% of women say they prefer to wear their hair natural, while 15% prefer straight or relaxed styles” and “two in five women with textured hair say they’re happy with their natural hair.” Furthermore, “only 11% of women overall say they love their hair when polled. When polling curly girls alone, that percentage increases to 40%.” All Things Hair further notes that “natural hair care made up $8.74 billion of the global hair care market in 2019” and “the natural hair care market is estimated to have a growth rate of 4.7% annually from 2019.”

Wilson’s I AM H.A.I.R. was created and designed to empower young women to begin working in the beauty industry and teach them how to properly care for the hair of clients – specifically clients with natural hair.

Wilson says she aims to target young women between the ages of eight and 18 and equip them with the tools and resources with the skills to begin working in high-paying jobs. Her classes include lessons in the basics of haircare, washing, braiding and styling.

Currently, Wilson teaches 15 women and girls weekly. She says her long-term goal is to build her own training facility where she can grow her program and maximize impact. Learn more about Wilson’s work here.

Way to go, Vakeela!  

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