By Annie Wu ’19
You walk into a hair salon and proceed to sit down in front of a mirror. The hairstylist walks towards you and asks you what hairstyle you would like to have and you tell her. As the hairstylist is doing your hair, you notice that she is handling your hair roughly and carelessly. You ignore your uncomfortableness and go with the flow. When the hairstylist is done and tells you the price of the style, you walk out of the salon feeling unsatisfied because the stylist did a bad job for such an expensive hairstyle.
Kioni Phillip ’18 had enough of going to hair salons and began her own business, “Hair By Kee.” She began her business when she first went “natural.” To have natural hair, one stops straightening or putting chemicals in their hair to keep their natural hair texture.
“I cut a lot of my hair at the time, and it was growing, but truthfully, I was tired of taking care of it,” Phillip said. Having natural hair for the first time is a big change, and it can get hard to deal with at times. Despite not being able to control her hair, she wanted to accept her beauty and natural hair.
Phillip’s aunt gave her ideas of putting her hair in braids, twists, etc. These styles are called protective styles, which are ways to help protect the ends of her hair by detangling, decrease shedding and breakage. Her aunt, who helped do her hair, moved away and she was forced to go to the salon.
Phillip said, “I would literally be there all day, they would treat my hair not kindly and they didn’t care about my hair at all. They would braid it too tight so I would literally be in pain for days or they wouldn’t do it the way I wanted.” She was so unhappy and eventually stopped going. At that time, her hair became very healthy and she did not want to damage it in any way.
“My grandmother always used to tell me, ‘If you want something done right do it yourself,’” said Phillip.
She began learning how to do styles that she would have to pay for 120 dollars. She received many compliments on her hair and began doing her friends’ hair for free. Phillip enjoys doing people’s hair and helping other people feel stronger and more confident about themselves. She gained so many compliments that news of her doing hair spread from friend to friend, and she began doing hair for profit.
One of her friends suggested she start a hair page and offered to take pictures for her. She took the suggestion into consideration and started an instagram page, “@hair_by_kee_”. Phillip wants to call her page “Yoni Hair” in hopes of seeing how far her small business could go even though it started just for fun. She enjoys giving other natural girls damage- free hairstyles for a low cost.
Phillip said, “I’m always willing to empower other women like myself even if it means just fixing their hair for them so they can feel beautiful or put together.”
Phillip plans on continuing “Hair By Kee” on the side whenever she has time in college.