Projected to be a $761 million dollar business by 2017, the Black hair care industry continues to grow leaps and bounds. Nana Sidibe of MSNBC notes that “African-American women are [increasingly] leaving behind chemicals…and accepting their natural curls.”
A California native with a deep love for her Louisiana roots, Sheryl Hambrick is an up-and-coming hairstylist with a passion for cultivating natural hair. While she doesn’t rely as much on her Master’s degree in Psychology as one would think, her styling chair does often double as “the couch” on which her clients can vent – and be heard.
Read on as Sheryl, whose superpower is “making people pretty,” shares what keeps her up all night, the best career advice she has ever received and why passion is her driving force.
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Maisha Cannon: Tell us about your first job.
Sheryl Hambrick: My first job was as an after-school program teacher at the YMCA. I was responsible for coming up with the daily curriculum to teach and entertain 20 elementary and junior high students. What I remember most about that job is realizing that I did not want to be a teacher.
MC: Tell us about your current role.
SH: I am currently pursuing a career in hairstyling. I am enrolled at Toni & Guy Hairdressing Academy in Santa Monica, CA. I have been in my cosmetology program for over eight months and there are still times when I just can’t believe that I will be getting paid good money to play in people’s hair all day. It’s crazy!
MC: What influenced your decision to go to beauty school?
SH: I became obsessed with natural hair four years ago. As I followed more and more “naturalistas” on social media like @tarenguy, @heyfranhey, and @msdanti, I learned more about the natural movement. I realized that it was not just a fad, but rather something that is here to stay.
It began to consume so much of my time and focus that I made the decision to enroll in beauty school so I could specialize in curly and textured hair.
I want to inspire other women to fall in love with and nurture their hair in it’s natural state.
MC: You’ve worked in several different capacities over the course of your career – from Career Counselor to Social Worker to CEO. What lessons have you learned in respect to discovering your strengths?
SH: What I have learned is that if you want to know what your strengths are, the best thing to do is ask those who are around you the most – family, friends, and classmates.
One of the most dreaded questions during the job interview process is “What are your strengths?”
Often times, it is difficult for us to identify our strengths. Those who truly know you may often know your strengths better than you do.
If I would’ve listened to everyone else regarding my strengths and talents, I would’ve figured this career thing out a long time ago.
MC: What fuels you during the day?
SH: I am energized by knowing that after many career changes, I have finally figured out what it is that I was meant to do. For the first time in my life, I am truly happy and doing work that I love.
MC: What keeps you up all night?
SH: Looking at beauty posts on Instagram and Snapchat. I find it very hard to log off even when I am dog-tired. I have a serious problem!
MC: What role do passions play in your 9 to 5 life?
SH: My life right now is all about passion.
For the longest, I felt very empty inside because I could not identify my passion. I would log on to social media and see former classmates and friends who were successful in their careers and following their dreams.
Meanwhile, I was doing something that I knew was totally wrong for me. It was easy to identify what I didn’t like, but figuring out what I was passionate about was another story.
MC: What inspires you?
SH: I am inspired by all things beautiful.
I am inspired by the woman walking down the street who took the extra time in her busy morning to coordinate a flawless outfit or “beat her face to the gawds” because it makes her feel good to look good.
I am inspired by the countless numbers of women of color who are embracing their natural hair texture and have inspired me to do the same.
MC: What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
SH: Never stop learning.
MC: What do you do to recharge after a long work day?
SH: Lots and lots of “Real Housewives of [enter any city]!”
MC: When are you happiest? When are you at your best?
SH: I am happiest when I am spending time with my family, laughing with my classmates or having a good hair day.
I am at my best when I stop doubting myself, take a deep breath and tackle the task at hand.
MC: When was the last time you cried?
SH: Last week while watching People’s Couch. A couple was reunited with their son 20 years after giving him up for adoption when they were 16 years old. It was the sweetest thing ever!
MC: What has been your biggest motivation?
SH: My parents. My mom and dad are the most loving and giving people I know. They have been so supportive of me this past year and I wouldn’t have been able to pursue my dreams without them.
Be sure to follow Sheryl on Instagram or check her out in action at Toni and Guy.