MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - One day she was a hair stylist; years later, thanks to hard work and a lot of love, she owned her own hair care empire.
TaKeisha Berry-Brooks has been fascinated with hair since she was a little girl.
"Eleven to 12 years old. Me and my mom would go to the beauty shop every two weeks. That was our thing," Berry-Brooks said.
Even at that young age, she studied the stylists.
"They looked pretty making other women look beautiful," Berry-Brooks said. She even got to practice on her cousin sometimes. "She just let me practice, and that's kind of how I perfected it and knew that this is something that I wanted to do."
Beauty was defined differently when she first started out as a stylist working for others.
"At one time in our lives we felt like if we didn't have the long straight hair, then we weren't beautiful," Berry-Brooks recalled. But time ticked on, she saw more and more women destroying their hair with straightening chemicals.
To her, natural hair became the solution, and recognizing that was her first step to building an empire.
Next, she learned beauty techniques that wouldn't alter the hair shaft.
She trained with natural hair care pros across America, got a SisterLocks certification in California, and worked as a tech for Dr. Lisa Akbari's Hair Nutrition in Memphis.
Her interests then started gaining interest from other women.
"We would have small meet-ups in homes, beauty salons, libraries, and you know, places like that," Berry-Brooks said. "It was just like the small community building up."
Her parents, real estate entrepreneurs, encouraged her growth.
A t-shirt her dad put up is imprinted in her mind.
"It said 'Do for self or die a slave.' So I've always kept that inside me that I have to always do for myself."
That meant opening her own salon and finding more inspiration while at a natural hair care conference in Atlanta.
In 2011, Berry-Brooks launched the first natural hair care conference in Memphis: Naturals in the City Hair and Wellness Expo.
"I'll never forget. I was getting my makeup done, and they were like 'Keisha, you've got a line wrapped around the corner. These people want to come in!' And I'm like, 'Oh my God.'"
It took seven years for her to truly make it, and she's not planning to slow down any time soon.
"I want to change everybody's life who walks through this door, whether they're sitting in my chair, whether they're working for me, whether it's me patronizing a beauty supply," Berry-Brooks said. "It's just this passion when I wake up every morning and walk in these doors, it's like my second home you know? So I'm going to put everything into it, and I'm a get everything out of it."
The fifth annual Naturals in the City Hair and Wellness Expo is tentatively set for July 16. Click here to learn more.
If you want to see what Berry-Brooks is all about, set up an appointment for yourself on her website.