After the overwhelmingly positive response I received after telling my mother’s story about her battle with M.S. in my previous post. I decided to create a series on this platform, called #WomenAmongUs, in which I will interview and highlight some of the other amazing women in my life. I believe that as women we bond over our stories and our shared experiences. So, I want to share the stories of the women in my life, whether it be about their careers, love, or life, in hopes that others out there can relate to it and use it as a source of motivation and hope. To begin this series, I would like to highlight my sister, Danielle Neely.
On December 24th 1986, a star was born. Her name, Aquibia Danielle Neely, but we call her Danielle. In true Capricorn fashion she came into this world as a fighter. You see, when Danielle was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck cutting off her breathing, and the doctors had to race against time to ensure that she and My mother would make it. From that day forward she has always been a fighter. I have always had so much admiration for my sister because she is a rebel. She has never been afraid to take a risk and has always been unconventional. While others often try to fit into the box that society tries to make us fit into. My sister took that box and turned it into something completely different. I have seen my sister go though many phases in her life and experience so much growth over the years. She has worn many hats in her life, but barbering has become her one true passion and purpose.
Sometimes our purpose in life is not always apparent early on. For some of us, it can take years for to figure out what we are passionate about and how we can manifest that passion. However, this was not the case for Danielle. From the age of 16, she knew that barbering was her God-given talent and she was determined to make milestones within that industry against all odds. Fast forward to 17 years later, and she is indeed a master of her craft, and she loves every minute of it. Traveling from state to state and city to city, Danielle Neely is making a name for herself as a barber and soon her brand, #CrownedCuts, will be a household name. Neely is giving her male counterparts some serious competition, in what has been considered a male-dominated field. The road getting there was not easy, but Danielle has proven she is a force that is here to stay.
In this interview, Danielle talks about the moment she knew barbering was her passion, her goals, and her advice to other young ladies who are trying to pursue their goals.
When did you know barbering was your passion?
I knew barbering was my passion pretty early on; probably from the age of 16. I always wanted to cut my male cousins’ hair, and practice creating new designs and looks on them. I can remember early on, a few incidents where I messed up a few times on my cousin’s hair (laughs). It wasn’t funny then, but when we look back we can laugh about it now. I appreciate those moments because it just shows how much I’ve grown in my craft, and there is even more growth and improvement to come.
What is it like being a woman in a typically male-dominated field?
Being a woman in a male-dominated field is not as bad as I initially thought. I think with any profession you choose to work in there is always that stigma with women either not being equally represented or not receiving the same benefits as their male co-workers, I, however, to a certain extent, have not experienced a lot of that in my field. I feel like I’m pretty well received in this industry. I will say that when you enter a field such as barbering it is very much so a “boys club”. Some men really look at the barbershop as their temporary escape, where they can just chill among other men, so there is that aspect of the male bond and men trusting other men with their cut. Some men are just more comfortable with men cutting their hair, so as a woman you have to prove yourself more and build that trusting relationship with your clients. I’m sure early on some of my clients were probably hesitant, but they gave me a chance, and my work spoke for its self.
How do you balance being a mom and your profession?
My kids get to see me cut hair every day. They know that barbering is what I love to do more than anything, but of course, my love for my children come before that. So, that’s why I make it a point to be involved in all aspects of their lives. I try to be, at as many football games, dance recitals, school functions, etc. I just try to make sure that I’m never too busy for them. In this field of work, clients can be very, demanding they expect you to be on their time at all times, I can understand why they may feel that way. But my kids come before all of that, and it’s non-negotiable.
What has been your favorite part of working as a barber?
My favorite part about being a barber is giving people confidence. I believe that our hair is one of the most essential accessories to our overall look. It’s just so versatile, and it reflects so much of our personality. Especially, as black people so much of our history and experience is deeply rooted in our hair. So, when each client comes in they have a unique vision for the look they have in mind and that look is a reflection of their story and mood. I do my best to bring each vision to life, and after they get out of my chair, I want them to feel confident about themselves and feel satisfied with the work I’ve done. When clients appreciate what I do for them, and they notice my skills and work ethic it makes me feel good about what I do.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
In 5 to 10 years I see myself owning quite a few barber shops/salons around the world. I would love to become an international barber. Later on, I would like to develop a workshop geared towards up-and-coming barbers. I just want to give them the tips about the trade and help push them in the right direction.
What would you say to other young women who are trying to get into the same field or just pursuing their dreams in general?
I would tell other young women to put God first and have faith in what God can do for them because pursuing your dreams is not all peachy keen. There will be ups and downs but anything worth having is not easy. If your vision is your passion, then you will never want to just give it up. It’s important to stay focused on your own lane and don’t worry about the people who talk about you or put you down because you’ll find people like that everywhere and they don’t want to see you successful. Also, watch out for those that pretend to support you, but they don’t, these people can be family, friends, etc. Those type of people will never understand your vision or support it; That’s why you cant share your goals with everyone. It’s best to just keep your goals to yourself because the jealousy and envy of other people is powerful, and it can mess up the blessings coming your way if you choose to entertain that negative energy. Lastly, never worry about failure because mistakes are what make us better and to experience failure is better than never taking the risk at all.
I had such a pleasure interviewing Danielle. As her sister, I have seen her growth, and I am truly inspired by her work Ethic. She is the exact definition of a phenomenal woman Leave a comment below about what what motivates and inspires you to keep pursuing your goals. Check out some of Danielle’s work below as well.
Photos provided by Crownedcuts ( Danielle Neely)
***Gifs provided By Google