In addition to managing a website, it's become almost impossible to build a brand without the use of social media. Entrepreneurs now showcase content via Instagram more than ever before thanks to the platform's active 400 million user base. Stylists are among the many entrepreneurs who’ve set this trend, and those who specialize in hair are some of the most spirited users. Mariah Leilani best known by her handle @yayadidmyhair is less than a year deep into braiding and already boasts over 15,000 followers on her personal account. The 19-year-old stylist is laying braids, swooping edges, and taking names. What's even more impressive is that her motivation is as golden as her talent.
“First, I started doing my friends’ hair and then people would walk up to us asking who braided their hair. That's when I decided to start taking photos of my work and posting them,” says Leilani.
The Compton native has become one of the top 30 most searched #labraiders on Instagram with the support of her family and friends. Having gained 500 followers in one week, she attributes her developing success to obsessing over the details. Though cornrows, feed in braids, and french braids have once again become increasingly popular, developing new, tone-deaf names like “boxer braids,” Leilani is a firm believer that the universal appeal of hip-hop culture is what makes the style timeless.
“When I was in third grade, my godsister was putting orange braids in my hair. Now, I braid my four year old niece’s hair in similar styles,” she says.
The tradition is one that she values and enjoys sharing with her diverse clientele. Women of all ages and nationalities flock to Leilani’s account pursuing her services, including celebrities. However, becoming a celebrity stylist is not her priority. Leilani shared that, while it would be an amazing opportunity, she hopes to become an overall successful braider first.
Currently in school studying cosmetology, Leilani is driven by her customers’ happiness. “I’m a huge feminist and making women feel beautiful is very important to me,” she says. Clients can look forward to receiving nothing but good vibes when they sit in Leilani’s chair as she hopes to provide a peaceful experience. The young braider also has aspirations of becoming a Mortuary Cosmetologist.
“It’s a blessing to work with the deceased and you get blessed for doing it because not many people have that sort of patience,” she states.
Leilani is practicing patience now by providing the type of service to her clientele that she would hope to receive. Her giving nature has led to an abundance of loyal clients who have become her best, local form of advertisement.
“Everyone from my boyfriend’s mother to the family of my clientele have become walking billboards. They’ve really pushed me to keep going and I hope to inspire young women to keep going and being themselves.”
Leilani plans to continue providing women with fresh new styles to help them hold their heads high. For photos and pricing of Leilani's braiding styles, visit her Instagram @yayadidmyhair. Be sure to check out our next Instagram #Hairslayer of the Month and share with us your favorite social media stylists!