Today we’d like to introduce you to Keiona Allen-Syms.
Hi Keiona, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
It’s funny how life came full circle for me, when I was younger, I was never into hair like how I am now. My Abuela always had me in her shop in Schenectady since I was a baby up until I was a teenager, hair was always done and I always watched her do hair but it still never fully phased me. Now full circle when I started getting older, I always liked the long hair straight or curled look but my mother wanted me to embrace my natural hair more.
I inched my way into bundles by the time junior prom hit and I was hooked, I always wanted a different style with hair included but couldn’t fully do it myself so I had my sister Alecia to always help me out with the upkeep. Fast forward to after graduation, I started getting sew-ins but I always envisioned my hair looking and being a certain way but could never get the looks achieved when it was done. I had high school/middle school friends who were into the beauty industry and could do hair and worked in salons so I looked to them to do my hair.
I wasn’t working the best jobs back then so it was rare when I had money so I wasn’t able to tip them or anything but they always looked out for me and did my hair (shoutout to them) until it got to a point with them being sick and tired of being sick and tired of me. Which lead me to YouTube and looking to try and do my own hair so that I didn’t bother anyone plus I was still never satisfied with how my hair looked. I started off making my own U-part wigs, then I graduated to closure wigs but back then closures were still very new so it was hard to figure out exactly how to wear them and make them look good.
I started getting the gist of it so I asked my now ex-boyfriend Ahmad at the time should I start making them as a business and he told me to go for it, shoutout to him because he was the push I needed and the rest was history. I kept going sewing wigs until I was able to charge people which started at $50 because I was aware that I was still new and learning but I knew I could also get the job done. Then I got into coloring hair and that’s when I found my niche I was in love! When I was a child, I used to be extremely talented withdrawing (I’m talking I could replicate ANYTHING in front of me by just looking at it) but unfortunately, my talent wasn’t harvested so I lost my drawing abilities but my creativity was still in me.
Whenever I would color hair, I’d feel safe and in my own world and it was noticed, my clients started trusting me and let me do my own thing which helped me gain exposure. I’ve had my wigs featured on big hair companie’s Instagram pages which were huge and helped me continue learning. Now I’ve worked with influencers, hundreds of girls across the states and have made a name for myself but of course, I’m striving for more and am always bettering my craft. In a way learning how to do things on my own has pushed me back into where I’m supposed to be, my Abuela has passed and it’s like she runs through me every time I do hair because it comes naturally to me.
I absolutely love working for myself and making my own money, being a Sagittarius drives that as well because we are freedom in walking form. I don’t think I’d ever work a 9 to 5 again unless I truly want to and I’d never thought I’d be able to be at this point being interviewed nor having a business of my own doing something I love; my inner child is proud of me and that’s what always mattered most.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It wasn’t always sunshine for me growing my business. I had a job and was always trying to make time to work on my craft at the same time. I would get home after 10 pm, work on wigs until the morning, and sometimes would have to get right back up at 7 am just to get to work. Even though I’d be dead tired I would have deadlines with clients at peak holiday times that needed their hair to be A1 and for me to make sure everything else was running smoothly with my regular job as well.
It was hell for me sometimes, on top of that the hair vendor industry is extremely tough. It would be different vendors that I’d have to try out myself to see if the hair was up to par because that’s what I would use for my client’s wigs and it wasn’t always good after a while which I had to learn myself. Some people are hard on their hair and some are just casualties of bad hair so I would have to take hits when things didn’t go right which left me dead broke a lot of times. Everything can’t be sunshine though right? It’s been a learning experience I can say the least but after doing this since 2015 and going through countless vendors everything has been on the up and up, I use and love who I work with now.
Back when I was working my last job, I started getting a lot of customers that would place orders with me at work and even would come and pick their wigs up because I was at work but my managers used to hate it. Eventually, I wasn’t able to talk about my business unless the customer said something to me about it and somehow, I would have to give customers their wigs when I was on break (which was never a convenient time for them) just so they wouldn’t mess up conversions.
I was stuck between a rock and a hard place because I was making more money from my business than my regular job but I absolutely adored my regular job so it was kind of hard to balance. Sometimes I’d lose my drive and get uninspired when things slowed down and would have to pick myself up and keep moving. I always made a way and ended up being more driven and inspired which always made everything worth it in the end.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am a wig maker; I sell custom units to anyone’s liking. I’m mainly known for my coloring skills when it comes to hair, I can of course make a nice natural unit but if you want to stand out and do something new, I’m your girl. I love doing closure wigs, I of course provide frontal units as well but like I tell my clients the less maintenance the better since you can literally pop a closure unit on in the morning and take it right off at night without having to abuse the integrity of the hair and your edges.
One thing about me and my business that I feel sets me apart is that I put myself in my customer’s shoes at all times. I know how it is wanting to have a certain look but can’t fully afford it at that time so I offer payment plans when purchasing a custom order. I don’t just want to take someone’s money and not listen to their needs that’s why I let my orders come directly to me so I can talk to my clients one on one to ensure I’m making their unit exactly how they like it. Plus, I have an eye for a look, I can be sent anything and recreate it without having prior experience on it which is a heaven-sent gift.
I also always get my clients to step out of their comfort zone, black women are nervous about doing colors because of their skin tone but I always let them know that because of our skin we can always wear anything and any color no matter what. We are made and designed to be bold no matter what so always try things you’re scared of and watch how you’ll love your appearance and how much confidence will radiate from you in your new look just by trying something new.
The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
The pandemic has taught me so much, I believe I sold the most I’ve ever sold during the past year or so. No matter what is going on around us we always have to look good! During that downtime, I was able to relearn myself within my stillness.
I took that time to learn new hairstyles, added a jewelry line to my brand (IG: Acerbly), and appreciated the people who still wanted to look beautiful during their troubling times. Beauty doesn’t go away because of hardships people will always need people like us to keep them going which I love about being able to provide and service for anyone.
- $150 For Unit Construction
- $50 For Styling
- $50 For Customization
- $75 For Bundle Coloring
- Email: L.email@example.com
- Website: Lbbeauty.us
- Instagram: @IcedByLB