Never Give Up

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I’ve enjoyed connecting with customers for as long as I can remember. However, when I became a single mom at the age of 17, I had to trade in my love for cosmetology for a benefitted job with the federal government. I was responsible for someone else, you know?

Still, doing hair always fed my soul.

While building my government career, I continued taking clients after working my 9-to-5. The love I had for being a creative always stayed with me, and I didn’t let any circumstance get in the way of that.

If my babysitter at that time couldn’t do evening hours, my son had to go to the salon with me. That’s how I managed both at that time. NO EXCUSES. Eventually, I met and married my then-husband at the age of 24. He supported my hustle and helped me manage my hectic lifestyle in every way he could.

All of this came to a head in 2006, when I decided to resign from my full-time, benefitted job and give my full attention back to hair.

I went to work one day, sat at my desk and had a moment –– that conversation you have with yourself when it’s decision time. I was tired of answering to a boss when I knew I was one. I couldn’t let my hair business go.

By the time I resigned in 2006, I’d given 18 years of service to the government. To me, that was good enough. Also, because I was married at that time, our family was financially stable enough to make my move.

Were we scared? YES. Leaving a job with full benefits –– like who does that? But with my skill sets, I knew I wouldn’t fail. 

Still, even with my support system, becoming an entrepreneur after working for another entity for so long presented some challenges –– challenges that come with being a mom, entrepreneur, wife and trying to have a moment or two for myself.

Managing all of this was difficult, because everyone’s happiness matters. Honestly, I look back and still don’t know how I did it all. I didn’t have a formula or anything. I was just young, determined and motivated.

Plus, as my kids grew up and I was able to focus on consistently and efficiently growing my business, what once seemed impossible became attainable.

Through hard work and a lot of Google searching, I set up my business and found a location that was financially affordable to run and operate. It was very modest, and I could pay the rent with my eyes closed. But, my aspiration then was just to do hair in my own space. My clients and I loved it. And I took off running.

I watched and learned from my cousin Valerie Wright, an accomplished hairstylist based in Maryland. She was a true inspiration for me early on, graduating from high school and soon after opening her own salon with an amazing clientele.

What I noticed most was how people gravitated to who she was. Sure, she could style hair. But it was her presence, how she cared about people, that was so infectious. To see how her clients loved and supported her was inspirational.

I also got to know what kind of work environment fueled my creativity –– a point every artist should build from. This is the key to being the best stylist you want to be, whether it’s behind the chair, owning your own establishment or being a traveling freelance stylist.

The only thing that stood in my way at that time was the fear of failure. The biggest take away from my journey is that there’s no wrong or perfect way to pursue your dream. Once you make up your mind, go for it. This journey is yours.

If you want to step out on faith to pursue your passion, research and research some more. Pay attention to how people you admire run their business and be a student to build your confidence and knowledge.

The key to maintaining success is never giving up. The moments you feel defeated are the moments that require stillness, so God can guide your steps with clarity.

Demetress Valentine
Demetress Valentine
Demetress Valentine is a hair and makeup artist providing beauty services for tv, video, print, cosmetics brands and more. Her website is www.exclusivelybydvglam.com.