Hello beauties! I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now that today’s feature is none other than my colleague, 21yr old, Clanlethia L Johnson (@cljstyles_extensions on IG) aka ‘Boss Baby’ (as we affectionately call her at the salon).
Originally from small-town Camden, AL, Clanlethia (or Dasha for short) is the definition of a ‘Boss Baby’. Dasha moved to Huntsville, AL in 2016 to attend the Alabama A&M University and is expected to graduate in May 2020 with her Bachelor of Science in English. [Go Bulldogs!]
“I’ve discovered a lot about myself since starting at A&M,” she began, “being almost four hours away from home (driving distance) forced me to reevaluate everything I considered important in life and also everything I thought I knew about myself.”
Going away to college will definitely do that to you. I remember being a freshman at Oakwood University at the age of 17. PHEW, let’s talk about culture shock. Leaving a small island and moving to the states before I was an actual adult was a lot and I definitely had to work extra hard to find myself. Shoot, I’m STILL “finding myself” and I’m about to be 27 next month.
“Despite all the 8 am classes and research papers, college has been a great experience so far and I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I’ve also met some great people through different on and off-campus organizations such as the Honor’s program, English club, and the Southern Belle organizations” she continued. “In addition to my academic life, I spend 90% of my spare time doing hair.”
Boss Baby discovered her passion for hair at a very young age. By the time she was in high school, she had already established a regular clientele. “I invested a significant amount of time and energy to hair because it made me feel good and distracted me from all the problems I was facing at the time” she explained.
“Although I came to A&M with other career options in mind, my passion for hair has dominated all of my other interests. If I told you that the lucrative part of doing hair is what motivated me the most, I would be lying; but I must admit that doing hair has supported me financially and has also allowed me to avoid working for anyone else since high school.”
WOW! How many former and current college students can say that? Most of us either worked at a job we couldn’t stand or were struggling to make ends meet. Well, Dasha was smart about it and beat the system. Definitely inspiring.
When discussing motivations, Dasha gives the most credit to having the platform to be able to reach women of all ages and backgrounds. “I have always been an outspoken and outgoing individual,” she began to explain, “one of my advisors told me one time that ‘every person has their own pulpit and doing hair was mine’ (I had just informed her that I wasn’t too sure about following my original dream of becoming an attorney). After our conversation, I felt refreshed. My feelings towards my passion changed. My purpose (to pour into as many women as I can, with whatever God places on my heart at the moment) became clearer.
Funny enough I had a similar experience a few years back before I began my own journey. Through random conversation with this lady I didn’t know, she was able to encourage me (more like talked me into) to hone in on my passion and find a way to make it lucrative.
If you do hair (or anything that falls into the entrepreneurship lane), then you know this life is not all sunflowers and roses. Well, Dasha is no stranger to it. “There was a moment a while back when I questioned my ability to maintain a steady clientele. Things in my life were changing, I had more responsibilities and less availability, which resulted in slow weeks (which meant I wasn’t making any money),” she began to explain. “I felt like I was stuck in between a rock and a hard place. I thought I was reaching a point where my passion for hair could no longer complement my lifestyle. I even started going to job fairs just to find alternatives, preparing to give up on my passion.”
“Finally, while in church one Sunday, everything the preacher was saying somehow resonated with me. I will never forget the topic, ‘Operating in Faith Over Fear.’ In a nutshell, the preacher explained how there was a time when he believed that he was incapable and unqualified, but when he finally built up the courage to step out on faith, God gave him an overflow! From that day forward, I decided to jump off the porch! Lol and I’ve been jumping ever since.”
As far as inspiration goes, names such as Alonzo Arnold, Ericka J., and Ming Lee came up. “I honestly used to watch all of Ming Lee’s YouTube videos when I was in middle school, just to lust over her work or learn how to imitate it. Alonzo and Ericka stand out to me the most because they are so authentic and raw, each with their own sense of humor, personality, and style,” she explained. “These icons inspire me to work hard on my craft, but they also encourage me to be myself (and to stay fly!). While critics like to minimize hairstyling down to “hard labor” or just being tiresome work, these stylists do a great job of highlighting all the aspects, including the perks of being a successful hairstylist.”
While I’ve never heard of Ericka J before this interview, Alonzo Arnold and Ming Lee are definitely inspirational and if you’re a hairstylist (or entrepreneur period), you should probably follow them on IG too.
“I believe Alonzo and Ericka J stick out to me the most because we have similar personalities. I am very outgoing and I consider that to be a strength,” she began explaining, “I can relate to almost anyone and I am not afraid of meeting strangers, nor am I afraid to speak up or share what’s on my mind.” she continued. “Most people are drawn to me because of my welcoming spirit and that has gotten me far in life. My clients even acknowledge that they appreciate me for simply holding conversations with them while I’m styling their hair, unlike most hairstylists.”
So how does one so young, juggle being a full-time student and full-time hairstylist/business owner? Boss Baby does it with so much poise, I wasn’t sure if anything scares her, but I was wrong. “My biggest fear is not being able to maintain the life that I have created and desire for myself.” she began explaining, “My fear of losing what I’ve gained is a form of motivation for me. Travis Scott said it best,
‘I got **** to lose, that ****make me nervous!’
It makes me move differently. I won’t do anything to jeopardize what I’ve worked so hard to build, which forces me to have more discipline. I am 21 years young and I work diligently in all areas of my life.”
She is so right! People with nothing to lose don’t operate the same as those who do. When you know your purpose and you have a set standard, you move differently. Things, like organizing, planning and working late hours, take precedence to clubbing, hanging out and gossiping.
Well, she wouldn’t have fears without having experienced a few setbacks. “I wasted about two years of productivity because of my failure to disconnect myself from toxic people. I entertained a few relationships that did not add value to my life, but only caused a great deal of destruction instead. My inability to set boundaries was one of my main issues and I wasted time on people who did not even deserve ONE minute!”
Nonetheless, there’s a rainbow at the end of every storm and Dasha’s rainbow was filled with a new attitude and a newfound love for herself.
“I learned that it is important to evaluate how accessible you should be to certain people in your life.”
“One of the tactics I use to decide how much I want to invest in people is by acknowledging how well they treat me AND how well they treat themselves.” Reciprocation and consistency. Two different things that go together but do not mean the same thing. You can be consistent and not reciprocate, while you can reciprocate, but not be consistent. YOU CHOOSE.
As I bring this post to a close I just want to remind everyone that you are neither too young or too old you follow your dreams. Don’t know what your passion is just yet? It’s okay, you’ll know soon enough. Just be open and honest with yourself and your journey. Work on being a better person inside and out and the rest will come. Until next time babies!💕