Most UB students spend their evenings studying or going out with friends. Aicha Niang spends that time running her hairstyling business.
Hairstyling has become a deeply-ingrained skill for Niang, a junior health and human services major, through years of self-learning and experience.
Growing up, Niang got her hair cut by her mother. Once she made it to middle school, Niang wanted more than an inexpert, at-home haircut.
“It made me want to go do my research, watch YouTube, learn how to plait and learn how to twist,” she said. “I started practicing on my sisters, my mom and my brother. Then, I got so good at it, I’m like, ‘Maybe I can turn this into a business.’”
During her junior year of high school, Niang started her hairstyling business: Styled By Aichaa (inspired by her Instagram handle, @styledbyaichaa). Since then, Niang has been running Styled By Aichaa for five years at two locations: her home in Brooklyn, New York, and her Creekside Village apartment at UB.
In New York City, Niang mainly worked with family members and close friends. But after expanding Styled By Aichaa to UB, Niang has become more motivated to branch out and spread her business to other people.
Niang has stationed her newly located business in the bottom left corner of her living room. Niang’s setup includes a cherry blossom painting made by her dad that’s surrounded with pink inspirational quotes, a wooden table with a white LED mirror stand, a black styling chair given to her by a friend, a pink backdrop curtain and a black rack filled with hair supplies.
“I would say it functions like every other salon,” Niang said. “If you’re familiar with businesses in the city [New York City], sometimes people do have hairspaces in their basement or in part of their living room, so it feels natural to me.”
While faux locs are her business’ signature hairstyle, Niang also provides customers with hair washing, hair straightening, braiding, natural hair, wig maintenance, sew-ins and other locs services.
Being a full time college student and an entrepreneur, Niang has to manage multiple responsibilities at once. On top of being a student, Niang is also a member of the African Student Association’s e-board.
“I don’t want to say I work well under pressure,” Niang said. “But I do.”
Running Styled By Aichaa out of her apartment is good enough for now, but Niang is already thinking about the future. After graduating from UB, Niang hopes to have her own hair studio in New York City.
“I do plan on working in my own salon, but I also want to rent out booths to other young, inspiring African braiders and hair stylists,” Niang said. “And to give back to the community.”
Niang takes appointments by text, which customers can reach through her business’ Instagram page, @styledbyaichaa. After requesting an appointment, Niang will consult with customers regarding desired style, service needs, payment options and her business’ location.
Styled By Aichaa is open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 6:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. and weekends from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
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