As women, we journey to learn to love our entire being, but we also know that learning to love our hair is sometimes a separate self love journey of its own. That is why it is important value our beauty from the inside out. Chicago based hairstylist and entreprenuer, Breanna Curtis, is apart of the Melanin Girls Hustle Club. Through the creation of two brands, Be Beautiful and Extended Beauty, Breanna inspires her clients to live well from the inside.
“It requires more than just outward attractiveness, it’s a total beauty thing.”
Tell us about who you are and where you are from?
I am Breanna Curtis. However, most people know me as BeBe. I was born in Chicago and raised in the south suburbs where I lived with my older sister, mom, and dad. I attended Thornwood High School where I then transitioned into college at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign to study Advertising. Immediately following college, I attended Paul Mitchell Cosmetology school. I Like to describe myself as a forward focused woman. Everything I do today pertains to my work and/or elevating myself in some form.
When did you realize what your passion was?
At a very early age, I was introduced to the beauty industry by my mother who has been in the industry for over 20 years. In middle school, my mom would give my bestfriend Allison and I something to do after school, and that happened to be learning how to french braid. I then progressed to doing hair extensions when entering high school. The passion behind my skill came when I was able to put meaning behind it. This came about in high school, however that meaning continually evolved throughout my life experiences.
Tell us about your brand and why you started?
My brand was built off of my life experiences and my growing perspective. I created two brands, BeBeautiful and Extended Beauty, with the energy of the Total Beauty principle, standard, and lifestyle. In middle school I was challenged with what most would call an “attitude problem”. I remember my 8th-grade teacher telling me that I was too beautiful to have the attitude that I had. I won't say that it resonated with me at that time, but my mother, who is the influencer of my brand, persistently taught me the importance of character, self image, and being beautiful from the inside out. At some point I became aware and decided I wouldn't tolerate anything less than to ‘Be Beautiful’, inside and out. A lot of times we forget to have a charismatic attitude amidst having a nice outward appearance or to live well from the inside out. Living by Be Beautiful has created a standard for me to live by and I utilize my talent, experiences, and perspective to inspire others to live a truly beautiful life. I started my hair extension line during my college years to compliment my hair services. Similar to BeBeautiful, Extended Beauty encourages beauty from within with everything outside of that just an enhancement.
My brand manifesto was written as an affirmation not only for myself but for my clients, customers, and anyone else who encounters it, with the intentions of confidently and forcefully stating beliefs. Not only does the text read as an affirmation, my mission is characterized behind each synergetic entity.
What sets you apart from other hair stylists?
My professionalism and customer service sets me apart from other stylists. Those are two things that I confidently pride myself on. I like to give my clients their own beauty session and it is my mission to build a relationship with each of them. I am prompt and I don’t like to work on multiple clients at a time. I know exactly how long It takes me to do each style and I schedule accordingly with respect for my clients’ time. A lot of stylists specialize in extensions, but don’t care about the actual health of the hair. The health of the hair is the most vital part of receiving hair service. I think a lot of stylists get comfortable in the beauty industry making the money that they are making so they aren’t scared to lose clients. To me, regardless of my clientele, my customer service is still a representation of me and my character.
Have you ever encouraged someone to try a look that was outside of their comfort zone but they ended up loving it?
Yes, all the time! I have a client that kept getting side parts. I suggested she get a middle part, but she thought that her head was too big. She finally listened to me and now I can’t get her to go back! The same goes for color and even with wearing wigs, which is gaining popularity now. I had so many clients that were so against it, but would end up surprised after complimenting me on my hair and finding out it was actually a unit. Some people really can’t get with the fact that you are taking it on and off at night! They see the benefits that wigs can offer, become open to trying them, and fall right in love.
What would be your best advice to someone who wants to look nice as far as their hair but doesn’t have the largest budget?
My biggest piece of advice for women who want their hair to look nice but don’t have the largest budget is to put yourself on a regimen where you are consistently maintaining your hair with end trims and deep conditions. For a lot of women, our hair is a priority, but it's not really a priority. We will go to the gym with hopes to get in shape, but not get an end trim with hopes that the hair will grow.
Invest what you can into your hair like you do with everything else you desire. If you can find a stylist that you can afford, i would definitely recommend going to a professional stylist who can carefully maintain your hair and make evaluations regarding your hair that you can’t necessarily make.
Were there any hurdles you faced in the beginning?
A lot of people think that entrepreneurship is easy because you are your own business, but in fact, it can be challenging. After graduation, my line sisters who work for different firms would tell me about their experiences with work. There would be many times that they couldn’t come out because they were at home finishing up projects or deadlines that they had to meet even outside of their regular work hours. These firms and Fortune 500 companies are so successful because they have teams who work efficiently to meet deadlines. I manage everything for my business on my own. I have to constantly educate myself, market my businesses on social media, create my advertisements, manage inventory, manage the online booking site, follow up with clients, and much more. When you're not yet in a position to hire a team, you have to make sure you get things done on your own because as an entrepreneur it's easy to say “I will finish this tomorrow”.
It can also be challenging being an entrepreneur because you can’t specify how much you're going to make in a year in contrast with a salary based job. This makes it much more difficult to budget. But, that can be a benefit as well. There are also no limits, in most cases, to how much can be made in a year as an entrepreneur.
How do you stay motivated with your visions?
On a personal level, I keep thinking of my end vision. I know that it takes levels to get to where I want to be and I’m not trying to get there too late. The people that I have around me are my sources of motivation. Between my mom, and my boyfriend, every day I’m reminded of my goals and where I want to be in life. My mom is 56 years old and she’s still striving. Usually, people get older and they get to a place where they are content and she’s not content at all. She’s just going harder and making sure im going even harder than that. My boyfriend has great ambitions and holds me accountable for mine to the point where I wish I would've kept the goal to myself lol We write down our goals and the things that we need to get done together. At 6 am, if one of us is up, the other one is up too. Being in the same household with someone with so much determination and discipline, I honestly don’t have room to not be motivated. Our relationship thrives off of encouragement and motivation for each other's vision. Besides the fact that I am my brand and I have to live up to it, these are the aspects that’s keep me pushing forward.
Tell us one piece of advice, knowledge, or information that you learned that helped your journey of being a business owner?
As a business owner, understand that you have no limits and take advantage of that. Study your craft, really learn it, and master it so you can utilize it to inspire others. The bigger the audience, the more opportunities. Being an inspiration to others through my work, has only pushed me further and brought a lot more meaning behind what I do.
What would be your best advice to someone who doesn’t feel they have found their purpose or feels lost?
If you are searching for your purpose, I suggest really focusing on yourself. Focus on what you want out of life, who you want to be, and create a vision for it. That focus will allow your purpose to unfold. People will say that they don’t have a vision, but they do. A lot of times we just think that those visions are far-fetched or out of reach, but they aren’t. Just do it. Start by aligning your actions with your goals and visions. Educate yourself, do research, and expose yourself to new things. Reading is a great start in self-education. It will enhance or even transform your mental state. Then ask yourself constantly, is that who you want to be or will that help you get to where you want to go?
How do you maintain self care with so many roles in your life?
Maintaining self- care with so many roles and visions for myself can be challenging. However, I have realized self care for me is working towards my visions, fulfilling those roles, and feeling accomplished by doing so. At the beginning of this year, I wrote down things that I wanted to focus on, one of them being “Stay in tuned with Be”. I have all these visions of who I want to be, and what I want to do, just to realize all I had to do was remain loyal to myself by choosing the action that is aligned with that vision. Some of those actions would consist of spending more time with myself through hobbies and reading self- help books to keep me mentally balanced and educated in different areas.
What is one thing you love about yourself?
I love everything about myself. *laughs hard. I love being able to understand perspective. I understand that people have different thoughts, experiences, and feelings that we often times know nothing about. It has put me in a position to choose to be more generous in my interpretations of perspectives and it challenges me to better take, seek and coordinate perspectives. In most cases I can react and make decisions unbiasedly or optimistically, which has allowed me to lead a more positive life.
One thing you are learning to love?
I am learning to love the fact that I am bossy. I used to take offense to others describing me as “bossy”, especially in middle school. It had such a negative connotation. In some aspects, maybe I was being bossy. However, in most aspects I see it as being a leader and sometimes its hard for some to differentiate the difference. I am a boss. I’m decisive and I like to initiate action. For a long time, I tried to take back from that to avoid the negative connotation of being bossy, but now I'm growing to appreciate being a leader or boss.