MU students continue to offer hairstyling, beauty services during pandemic

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, MU student entrepreneurs are still balancing their hairstyling and beauty businesses with other activities.

MU students are finding ways to stay busy despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to classes and clubs, some students have tapped into their entrepreneurial side as they service customers through their own businesses.

Remi Strong, an MU junior majoring in psychology and minoring in criminal justice, manages a hair business that she started last year in addition to being a full-time student and an administrative assistant at the university’s Psychological Services Clinic.

“I am a hairstylist, so I provide different services such as protective styles, extensions and natural styles for men,” Strong said. “I’ve been doing this for years, but I really started branding myself last year.”

Strong operates under the Instagram handle, @remistylin, where potential customers can view her work, book an appointment and get in contact with the stylist.

The pandemic made business a challenge for people like Strong, whose work requires close physical contact with their customers.

“As soon as [the pandemic] started, I decided that I needed to take a break until I figured out what’s going on with this virus,” Strong said. “I stopped doing hair for a few months.”

Nonetheless, after a three month hiatus beginning last March, she resumed working and said she prioritizes safety for her customers.

“I make sure I sanitize everything,” Strong explained. “I make sure anybody that comes into my home is wearing a mask.”

Like Strong, MU freshman Sterling Jones also works during the pandemic. In addition to being a business major, he cuts hair, mostly doing fades and tapers.

Jones began his business almost a year and a half ago, using the Instagram handle @sterling.cuts to display his work and speak with potential customers.

“I used to go to the barber and [my mother] was always trying to get me to cut my own hair, and I was like I’m not doing that, and then I did it for the first time,” Jones said. “It wasn’t really good, but then I just started doing it, and I started to get good at it.”

Now, though Jones does not want to pursue hair cutting as a career, he believes it’s a financially beneficial skill that can be used to make extra money, Jones said.

In the future, Jones wants to combine his business education with his passion for music through exploring music production.

Unlike Jones, Donatiya Valley plans on turning her business into a full-fledged career. Valley is currently taking a gap semester, but she is sophomore majoring in psychology.

Under the Instagram handle @nottilash, Valley provides a variety of eyelash extension services available to the MU area.

“I have classic sets, hybrid sets, and volume sets. I actually just started offering eyebrow shaping services as well as tinting,” Valley said. “I’m working to bring forth more services for the Mizzou community.”

With two years of eyelash extension experience, beginning her senior year of high school, Valley explained how her eyelash extension technician aided her in learning the craft of applying them.

“She taught me how to do eyelash extensions for my birthday,” Valley said. “That small gesture, her helping me, has created a business and a form of income for me.”

Outside of her eyelash extension business, Valley works as a patient service representative at a COVID-19 drive-through testing site through the university.

“Working, especially at the COVID-19 drive-through, and doing eyelash extensions has really put a toll on me,” Valley said.

Despite the challenges, Valley manages both jobs, ensuring time for her own business.

“I’ve tried doing hair, nails, and makeup. I’ve tried to sell clothes and hair, and [eyelash extensions] just found me. Eyelash extensions are perfect for me, because it’s something that I could roll with and that I found I was good at a young age,” Valley said. “I love it.”

Edited by Angelina Edwards | aedwards@themaneater.com

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