Maintenance of natural hair is not just a science; it is an art. Additionally, it is now a unique profit center for black hair care companies, divisions, stylists and schools. In that mix is natural hair instructor Anya Parker, who clearly has a passion for natural hair care.
Carlee McCullough: Tell us about yourself.
Anya Parker: I've been a licensed hair stylist for almost ten years. I am also a natural hair instructor at Lisa Akbari Hair Institute, where we specialize in the training of future natural hair stylists.
C.M.: What makes natural hair a business opportunity?
A.P.: This is a great business opportunity because it is "today's" popular trend that I don't feel like it's going to run out like most trends do. I encourage anyone who is in fashion, makeup, hair or whatever it is that you do to make people feel good on the inside and the outside, to jump on board. Natural hair is a movement of women and men determined to live healthier lifestyles.
C.M.: What are the necessary elements that go into a successful hair industry business?
A.P.: Well, I believe in purpose-filled living. Everything I do or touch has purpose in my life. So the primary element is purpose.
C.M.: What was your personal natural hair journey like?
A.P.: In the beginning it was very hard because not only did my hair stylist fire me as her client, but people in my community would give me a funny look. But I'm so comfortable in my skin that it didn't bother me very much. It was just very funny to watch.
C.M.: What advice would you give someone who wants to go natural?
A.P.: Go natural! That is my advice. If your hair is good enough for God, then why isn't it good enough for you?
C.M.: Do you recommend transitioning or big chop?
A.P.: It depends on the customer. Some people can be a little crazy when it comes to their hair. So I recommend a few salon visits before getting a big chop.
C.M.: What are the biggest mistakes people make in their natural hair journey?
A.P.: Trying to do it alone. This is a journey that you don't have to do alone and it's more than a hairstyle. Natural is a lifestyle. But beware of the YouTube bloggers. Most of the people on there are not licensed and give out the wrong information. So don't believe everything you hear. Get with a professional that you trust.
C.M.: What emerging trends do you see in the hair industry?
A.P.: Braids, braids and lots of braids. I think that people are stretched for every dollar. So people are looking for styles that will last a while. Some people cannot afford to visit the salon every week.
C.M.: What training is typically required to become a hair stylist?
A.P.: To be a cosmetologist you have to complete 1500 hours of beauty school.
C.M.: What do you enjoy most about the beauty industry?
A.P.: Just waking up every morning to do what I love is enjoyable to me.
C.M.: As a business owner, what is the greatest reward?
A.P.: The greatest reward of being a leader is being able to bless others.
C.M.: What's most challenging as a business owner?
A.P.: The most challenging thing for me is not being able to please everyone.
C.M.: Who inspires Anya Parker and who is your mentor?
A.P.: I'm inspired by all people whether they are good or bad people. Everything I do is either for the people or because of the people I've encountered. My pastor, Stephon Brown, and Lisa Akbari are my mentors. I watch them, learn from them and execute whatever task they put in front of me. They both are super awesome people. I must say I am blessed.
C.M.: Any closing remarks?