Black student-owned hair, beauty businesses offer valuable services to Black community on campus

Aaron Boehmer, Life and Arts Reporter

Amori Haley welcomes her clients into her Jester West dorm room, where they take a seat for at least the next four hours. She preps her client’s head for knotless braids, mapping out her sections and perfecting her parts with Shine ‘n Jam gel. 

After the parts are as clean as possible, Haley lays out the amount of pre-stretched Outre braiding hair she needs for each section. Then, she starts braiding.

Hours later — when the parts are clean, the bottom of the braids are identical and the edges are laid — the look falls into place. 

Haley runs one of the various Black student-owned cosmetic businesses at UT. Often, Black students come from metroplexes with a plethora of Black cosmetic services. However, in Austin, these resources are not as easily accessible, making Black student hair and beauty services all the more valuable to the Black community on campus. 

The Daily Texan spoke with three Black student entrepreneurs who offer hair braiding, acrylic nail extensions and lash extension services. 

Amori Haley, Hair braider (@_touchedbymori

Haley started braiding hair in sixth grade but soon realized she could channel her talents into a business — Touched by Mori. 

“Everybody has to start somewhere,” undeclared sophomore Haley said. “If you have a gift that you’re blessed with, use it while you can.” 

However, Touched by Mori goes beyond styling hair. Haley said she talks with her customers to provide a safe space for them to open up to her. 

“I become their counselor,” Haley said. “In the midst of me doing their hair, I end up motivating them.” 

Haley said the ability to style other people’s hair and give them an air of confidence uplifts her. 

“Being able to do hair … is empowering,” Haley said. “It’s uplifting to know I can give (others) a glimpse of the confidence that I now have, or even bring out a different side of them.”

Mia Garrett, Lash technician (@moolamink)

Garrett first started using lash extensions as a full-time dancer in high school. She said they made getting ready for the Friday night lights easier. 

“I was already in love with it before I got into (the business) because I stayed having my lashes done,” the undeclared junior said. “It just made a total difference in my appearance.” 

Like Haley, Garrett brought her business, MoolaMink$, to campus out of her dorm in Jester West in the fall of 2021. On May 24, Garrett opened a salon space in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas. 

Garrett said she likes doing lashes because she gets to see her clients leave her chair feeling better about themselves.  

“Making other people look good and feel good makes me feel good,” Garrett said. 

Kachi Ohuakanwa, Nail technician (@glammed_by_kachi)

Ohuakanwa said Garrett’s entrepreneurship offered a source of inspiration for her as she started her nail business, Glammed by Kachi. 

“(Mia) was telling me ‘You can do it,’ because she does it too,” the accounting junior said. “Even though it’s hard, it’s doable because now I have a better allocation of my time.” 

Ohuakanwa offers acrylic and polygel nail extensions out of her dorm room in Moore-Hill, which frequently fosters the strong smell of acrylic. Ohuakanwa said she takes Mondays through Wednesdays to complete assignments, saving Thursdays and Fridays for Glammed by Kachi.

Despite the challenges of running her own business, Ohuakanwa said doing nails is therapeutic for her, offering a creative outlet that relieves stress. 

“I get to be creative, and it just calms me down,” Ohuakanwa said. “It’s something that I’m good at, and I shine. People know that that’s my niche.”