Fall is here and there’s much to do before 2018 comes to a close. Over the summer myBOB stories were reintroduced and to usher in the new season the story of Astoria Stubbs, owner of iAmQueen Hair should help motivate you to achieve anything you’ve been putting off lately.
You may have noticed Astoria’s feature on our Instagram. If you’re interested in being featured in the #myBOBstory, reach out via email. This campaign brings awareness to Black businesses from the owner's perspective. At myblackbox co. it's important to know the vision and purpose behind a business. Through this blog, Black business owners share their background, trials and tribulations, and the moment it all came together with you!
Focusing her business on one of the most important features of many Black women—hair, Astoria is making a difference in how Black women style their hair, maintain their natural hair, and take pride in a feature that’s constantly under attack in society.
What was it about hair that made you want to start your business around hair care, love, and products for hair?
Honestly, I saw a need. There are so many products in the industry along with a lot of stylists that just routine clients in and out, never addressing real issues that a client might have— and, frankly, don't care. I have always been in love with hair, working in all parts of this industry from weave to hair restoration, color cutting, you name it—I have done it. As I evolved into the person I am today, I started asking myself what do I love and what do people come to me for; then how can I service a need. I noticed no one is educating clients on their hair. I thought maybe stylists don't really know either, or forgot what they learned because they become busy in the day-to-day, creating a business that can cater to both industry and consumers. Not to mention one of my nieces wrote a story about being teased for her curls. I knew we had to not only learn about our hair, but love and accept it so we can truly love ourselves.
Can you share more about how your family has influenced your business and/or entrepreneurial goals?
I get my drive and entrepreneurial spirit from my Dad. He owned one of the largest black owned charter bus businesses in Houston for over 15 years. Heck, he gave me my first job, first real check, and taught me about networking. I literally followed him everywhere during the summer from the age of 9 until I went off to college. My mom on the other hand kept us together. She made it so that I kept a balance of school, volunteer work, sports, and family time. For as long as I can remember I have traveled to Mississippi with my parents for Thanksgiving and there I learned what family really means. My grandmother, my mom’s mother, had 8 kids. Every Thanksgiving everyone piled into my Mama Hazel’s home— a small 3 bedroom, 1 bath house, and just loved on each other by passing down stories and recipes. I can go on and on about my family. I mean I'm the baby and the age gap between me and my sister is 14 years— my nieces are like my kids.
What advice would you give to other girls and women who are struggling with their natural hair or loving their hair as is?
First, I would say stop looking at everything on social media, etc. Society wants you to think your hair is "nappy" — which is just a bad word for saying it “unmanageable.” So first change the negative connotation of the word and use words like kinky or curls cause that's truly what it is texture. It starts with understanding you hair type and what works for you, but also understanding who you are as a woman so you can begin to truly love yourself. I can only love you as much as you love yourself, so understand your worth. Second, find a stylist that specializes in natural hair and is not afraid to educate you. The best thing I can do for my clients is educate them because in turn they make my job easier by maintaining their styles at home.
Tell me more about your academy—you're a licensed stylist right?
Yes I'm licensed in Texas and Mississippi for a little over 13 years now. The Academy caters to women of all diverse backgrounds. I say this all the time, "Hair is Hair. It falls on a texture scale. It does not see color." We have four courses right now and are expanding to a more digital platform as we grow. Each class is hands on and goes through different components of the hair as it relates to curls. For example, The Natural You, my most popular, starts at the beginning— learning hair texture, how hair grows, the truth about shedding, protective styles, and a hair care regime. It's designed to help new naturals or anyone that's stuck and needs a fresh start. I also teach future and current stylists continuing education; although the basics don't change, trends and hair is always evolving. I help cultivate a learning experience that brings more value to the services stylists provide and educate them on the do’s and don't’s of different hair textures.
How do you incorporate live events into your business?
For a while all I did was live events like hair shows and expos when I was first starting out and trying to grow the brand. Now I understand my marketing strategy and learned to work smarter, not harder. I still so live events and shows though I understand that I can't be in every place at one time. At the moment a digital platform works better. As I add people to the team, which is the goal for 2019, we can be present at more shows and educate more people—or as I like to say, discover more curls!
Is there anything particular we can expect from iAmQueen during the 2018 holiday season?
We are taking this holiday season easy. Of course there will be the usual sale and maybe a hands-on class in November/December, but honestly as we move to a larger platform there are a lot of things that will roll out in 2019. January is my birth month and March is our 3-year anniversary, so look out for new classes and information coming out around that time.
What advice would you give to someone like you, who has an idea, but is scared to take the first step to launch?
Just do it! The only person stopping you is you! Do what you love and everything else will come. I have always wanted to do hair, educate people and travel the world. Is it easy? No. Have I failed? Yes, but if it was that easy everyone would do it! When it gets hard just remember you, why, and keep pushing through—the breakthrough is just on the other side. I was listening to a Will Smith video a friend sent me and one thing he said stood out— fear is a lie. He went on to explain how he went skydiving and, in that moment of being in the air, he felt the most bliss. At the point of maximum danger he felt the most fearless. Basically, on the other side of your fear is the bliss/maximum happiness you’ve been waiting for. Why let the lie of fear stop you from being your best?
If you don't feel inspired and empowered by Astoria’s story, you may need to read it again. Family, empowerment, and growth are all a part of the journey she is on with her business. As Black women we are so strong yet so vulnerable. Astoria’s story is a reminder that we before anything else we must love ourselves, as ourselves first. Proud to learn how she began her business and wishing continued success as we round off 2018!