Who is Kimberly Mitchell?
I think Kimberly Mitchell is still finding herself out. I've learned a lot about myself through my business. I am an entrepreneur, and I have owned Kimage Beauty Salon for three and half years now. I am originally from Brooklyn, New York, and have lived in Jacksonville, North Carolina, since I was 14. Overall, I'm still figuring myself out, and I've learned a lot about myself through business, and I know that I always need to be a businesswoman. Once I got into entrepreneurship, I learned where I wanted to be. You will hear a lot more about Kimberley Mitchell, and I want to be more of an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. I want to also stay in the beauty industry, and one day I won't be doing hair anymore since I've been doing it for over ten years. I would still like to have that platform for other young men and women, he/she/they that are passionate about what they do. I would like to help them with their passion and influence them with success. Make sure they are successful, if not more successful than I am. So I am always going to have that platform one way or another. I am someone who helps others that want to help themselves.
What inspired you to become a hairstylist and entrepreneur?
So with being a hairstylist, there wasn't any extreme inspiration behind it originally. It was more I graduated high school and took a year off because I wasn't sure what wanted I wanted to do. Initially, I wanted to be in Culinary Arts. The closest school was in Charlotte, and I wasn't ready to be that far away from my mother, who stayed in Richlands by myself. One of my mother's friends mentioned in conversation how my hair and makeup are always nice, and I should think about going to Cosmetology School. Since the school at the time was only a year-long, I was like, ok, bet. Once I decided to do hair, I ended up liking it way more than I expected. It was one of those things where I found my passion by accident.
As far as becoming an entrepreneur, I don't recommend anyone doing it the way I did because I did no research. I found myself tired of working for other people who were taking advantage of me. I love to make people feel a certain way about themselves, and I have experienced working for other people; we may not always share the same views. My previous employer during this time was in it solely for the money. Yes, this is an industry that makes a lot of money, and it's wonderful. You can make money and be passionate about it. Your goal should also include making people feel good about themselves and putting quality work out there. The money is going to come. I felt like that wasn't her goal, which led me to quit. I saw a building was for rent in a complex, and I said I was going to do it. So I saved my coins, and I did it. It was stressful because I didn't have any legit business plan. I recommend that anyone interested should consider creating a plan. I could have learned an easier way verse a harder way.
As a hairstylist, why do you think a black woman's natural hair texture gets correlated to a political statement verse being a statement of my black is beautiful?
To be honest with you, I don't know why, and it's irritating. Hair is hair, in my personal opinion. My salon is the only black-owned salon that I've worked for. I've always worked for Caucasian salons, and I have had people say your a "token black girl". We know there are certain things African Americans are not provided that Caucasians are. There are certain struggles that I go through with my salon being a black-owned salon that sucks. Overall, I'm happy that I worked in caucasian salons because I learned a lot about work ethic and how to run a salon, and I'm proud to say that I am a multi-cultural stylist. I don't care what your hair looks like; even if you don't have hair on your head, Ima work with you. I feel 100% confident that when you sit in my chair, you're going to walk away feeling amazing. It is because I challenged myself to not just go for the norm. I didn't allow anyone to make me feel uncomfortable in my own skin. As far as my black is beautiful, it is a thing for me. The world is what you make it. If you don't feel like your black is beautiful, then that is something that is going to have to start from within. For me, that is, in part, what the whole salon experience was about.
As an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, how do you use your power and values to discuss topics people would rather ignore?
Sometimes I feel like I'm not doing enough, especially because we're in a smaller town. Jacksonville is very military-affiliated, church-biased, and a very conservative overall city. However, because of the military base, we have so many diverse people in this town. Every year I host a pride event, and I am very happy to say that it has gotten bigger every year. I want to use my voice a little bit more as a platform instead of waiting for June every single year to have a pride event. I would like to host pride socials throughout the year. A community that creates a safe space for younger people who may want to come out, older people coming out, or just anyone who wants someone to talk to. Currently, there is a community were just not as close-knit as I want it to be. I'm not known for shying down when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, and I'm going to speak on it. If I'm going to be someone else, I minus well work for somebody else too. At the end of the day, I'm going to be unapologetically me, and if you don't like it, that's fine. I don't want your money anyway.
From your perspective, why are we more likely to engage in a new dance trend than we are to get involved in politics or opening a business?
I think our generation is lazy, and we have to stop it honestly. Our parents and grandparents are still working, and they are not complaining at all. I do believe there is a difference in comparing the work ethics between the different generations. They lived to survive, and we are living to live. What people fail to realize is what we see on Instagram still takes a lot of work. Sometimes I have to limit myself on social media because even I will look at other people's fabulous life and wonder why I am not there yet. You have to realize you are not in a race with anyone but yourself. Our generation needs to be smart in the way they use their platforms. Be a voice for your community, whatever that is. It wouldn't be right for me to do everything that I do and not give back, and I'm not referring to solely money. I don't charge people for business advice, because for what? I am a voice, and I will offer help.
Why is being educated or owning a business considered a "white thing"?
During slavery, we weren't allowed to read and write for black people, and that was for a while. Since we currently still see a resemblance of modern-day slavery, it's up to us to break that stigma. There are a lot of black people going to college, and also school isn't solely the only way to become educated. I didn't go to college for any of this, but I'm obtaining it. You can learn from life lessons. I'm not letting anyone tell me what I can and can't do based on my race. I do feel as if I have to work harder because I am black and a gay woman. You put out into this world what you believe in. We have to support each other more because the black community does have to operate differently than the caucasian race. We have the power to change that once we realize that and do better.
Since you've been a business owner, you have been able to witness the highs and lows of it. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give other entrepreneurs wanting to create a startup of their own. What would you do differently?
Like I said in the beginning, research. If you're not seeking a loan from a bank, you do not need a business plan; however, I do believe it is pertinent to your business. That means establishing why you are going into business, what type of business are you going into, and are you passionate about it? I believe it's important to be passionate about what you do because if not, it becomes work. It's also important to establish who your target market is too. These are things you need to know and be specific. It will help you learn how to market. All business is network marketing. Lastly, make sure you have a solid team and a foundation behind you.
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