“Braids” a Lupita Nyong’o short for Vogue looks at the socio-economic impact and intimacy of a diaspora tradition.

The times they are a-changin’.

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Braiding and it’s socio-economic importance- took center stage in “Braids” a Lupita Nyong’o short for Vogue! The young star is using her clout to reshape dialog on issues relevant to her. Well executed it  opens dialog not just with broader audiences , but among  black women themselves as to the greater value of wha tessentially is a ritual to many.

Taking care of black hair is a social ritual that  often crosses into  economic sustainability. Since before the time of Madame CJ Walker, women have paid to have their hair “done” and in the diaspora, Thursday, the day  maids,  got  half day, often dubbed Maid’s Night Out was when many got “done”.  This  was a major day for hairdressers and barbers. across the diaspora. Outside of that taking care of of “doing” hair, is a bonding time. A time to catch up, to share,to open up! It is intimate and healing…

If you daughter is going to college  hair care training is a definite plus… that is if she understands how to  run  a “stoop” business.  A stoop business is an at home version of a store business, usually open just to friends and those you trust. They are extremely informal and not structured as say a “kitchen table business”.

However  Lupita is not the only one who has trouble “taking Money  from friends’. I have the same issue, as an individual and with designer who now operate on a professional level  Local business is about  “doing  business with friends.’  Now if you are willing to work in the open spaces say parks, coworking spaces etc then extending to strangers is possible. Remember though you need to cover cost and use paypal to avoid cash issues keep hair in place and can be not only a life saver but a healthy easy  alternative. you can earn your chops working in a salon whatever the hair type or sex as well as take hair workshops and classes. Skills such as wash, blow outs,  sets ,  cuts  & curls are basic. everyone needs them.  So too are adding or maintaining extensions. For college Braids save time and  keep hair healthy.

At the core of this is the question of “Perception of value.” it is at the core of most issues relating to  commerce and growth iin the black community. Youth and college programs is an excellent  “space’ in which to  manage “CHANGE”.

You  do not get paid simply because you have a degree … you get  paid as am exchange for your time and skill… your “value points’.  The degree, the certification is a standardized “proof” that you a qualified.  In certain fields  the “proof” is more tangible,in some it is a matter of taste. With  teh first time th ejob is done… fashion, beauty, makeup housework, you usually can tell after the first execution if the work is “satisfactry”. At that  point value becomes “personal” what  is the value of this to the person reciving, and to the person giving.   The core question  becomes… do you value your time and skill? Do you value the skill and time of your “friend”.
What would you accept?

What affects how you are perceived… and how can you shift  increase how others percive your value… Trust me sometimes simply  stating it  and having  a discussion around it makes a lot of difference.

“I’m doing  this so I can pay  tuition, it’s worth X amount, but because you are my  friend I’m charging you  1/2 of  X. How does that sit with you and do youthink others would be comfortable  with this?”

Other Tips for Doing Business with Friends…

  1. Set  a ritual- such as payment on entrance, or at the half way mark..- payment first  works better-  braiding, designing  is a social intimate activity. the customer even  a stranger becomes comfortable and lets down their gaurd.  Setting the procedure first  eradicates the unease.
  2. Have a sliding scale and discuss this with your friends… regular rates are $Y.00 but Friend pay 75% or 50%. That also extends to “subscription which means you have a standing time and client  so every week for is $x weekly.
  3. Barter-  If your friend works at  a restaurant  and has, say, meal benefits- “in-kind”  is as good as cash. When you’re  in  college having a meal delivered each evening or twice a week is PRICELESS.
  4. Have specials for slow periods… of the week, month or year.  Doing work  at bargain rates when you papers are due can be frustrating…
  5. run a tab, lay away or “store credit” or prepaid system… work  with when  cash is in hand.
  6. if  you cannot charge for the braiding- then how about  products… buy  hair supply products in  bulk and charge a flat fee – slightly higher than market… Package enough supply till next visit. in other words sell on value.
  7. Or sell hair accessories – the point is figure out where the payment is coming from…
  8. If you still can’t  charge- really make it a “party”! charge for the party and sell stuff from a catalog…

Then again college is a training  ground and self employment, even in  college is about discipline as is learning how to run a profitable business!  In every business real friends will support  so when  making  a business plan… Plan to accommodate them.

Now if you are the friend on the “buyers” end, have you considered what your friends service is worth. If you are about  community, are you playing fair with the community’s resources?  What is investing your friends time and talent worth in teh long  run?  Are you really savings towards your needs , or is that money  save being spluged outside the  community, and simply for pleasure?   Questions to be answered, conversation  that need to be explored.

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“Braids” a Lupita Nyong’o short for Vogue looks at the socio-economic impact and intimacy of a diaspora tradition.

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Posted in Creative Cottage sector, Rethinking Work.