On Wednesdays we HighlightHER! 👑
This week are highlighting the talented Ciara Smack. Ciara is a 29 year old woman from Seaford, currently growing in her craft and in the self-discovery process, as we all are. I’ve known Ciara for many years, we went to the same high school. She’s always been a hustler and takes pride in her work. A lot of you may know Ciara because of her braids or modeling, but through our interview I learned, Ciara is a very Passionate and Determined young woman. One thing Ciara continued to say was “I never stop learning” I hope we all take a piece of that with us. THERE SHE GO!
People see Ciara Marie as the “Braid Queen” what’s behind that?
“Something a lot of people don’t know or understand about me, is that I’m a very passionate person. I’m passionate about everything and sometimes that is my greatest downfall. I’m not just passionate about my craft, I’m passionate about my family, my friends, other people’s feelings and I always want to help someone. It has been a hard cycle to break, not allowing others to take advantage of my passionate personality. I’m 100% in everything that I do, in everything that I give; whether it was modeling, doing hair or just simply giving someone a ride. Sometimes that passion also brings attitude, which I’m working on. At the end of the day I’m a passionate work in progress.”
When did you first start braiding hair and what made you specialize in doing children’s hair?
“I started braiding hair at the age of 14. I used to braid a friend of mine’s, little sisters hair in high school. When it comes to me doing children’s hair, to the parents, they may see somebody who’s giving them a break from having to keep up with their kids hair, which I completely understand. For me, as a black woman, once being a little black girl, I know how parents can be quick to put chemicals and relaxers in kids hair, which strips the natural chemicals. I want to change the stigma around that. Your child doesn’t have to be 6 or 7 years old wearing weaves or getting relaxers; with the right hair care, which I give and teach the parents, your child’s hair can flourish on its own. I also have clients who are single dads and have no clue what to do with their daughter’s hair. It makes me feel good to see the confidence of kids change when I get done with their hair. The relationships that I build with my child clients mean a lot to me. I can remember one time I had 3 sisters hair to do and they would cry, but I kept coming back, building that relationship and now only the youngest cries just a little bit. I’ve also been promoted to Aunt Ciara by a few. “
I see you have recently expanded your business back to doing adult’s hair, what inspired you to expand?
“To be honest, I expanded because they asked. I was reluctant at first because I’ve built such a great bond with my children clients. I have kids that expect me to do their hair on a set schedule and I didn’t want doing adults hair getting in the way of that. Also, I felt that it’s plenty of salons that braid adult hair and not many that are willing to have the patience to deal with kids. I want to expand my craft though and continue to learn, so I’m practicing time management to be able to do some adult hair too.”
For the people who don’t know, you have your own YouTube channel, where you deliver videos on not just styles, but hair care as well. What inspired you to get more interactive and how did you become so knowledgeable of the products that you share?
“I’m knowledgeable on the hair care products, because I use them myself. Also, from a previous highlightHER feature, Brittany Matamoros. I decided to take it all to YouTube because I want my knowledge and craft to reach more than just people in Delaware and Maryland. I want to grow beyond that. I’m truly passionate about hair care and the styles I provide and I want to share them with the world. I also feel all women have questions about hair care, so I put it out there as a resource to expand. I hope to grow my brand all over the country and have been working on ways to do pop-up shops and many other things. People ask me all the time to teach them how to braid. What is unique about me, is that I braid with my left hand, but with my right thumb, so it’s hard to teach and even harder for others to understand, but I’m working on it!”
Beings as through, your craft is centered around children, what’s your opinion on representation?
“The way I represent myself around children is for them to be able to trust me. I learn each child differently. Some use our time to just chill, watch TV, some use our time to tell me everything that’s going on at school. I respect whatever boundaries they set, which allows them to trust me. When the kids trust me and like their hairstyle, it makes the parents trust me. To me, doing hair is a representation of bonding time. I tell parents all the time, use that time to get to know your child’s hair and to talk to them. I cherish that time and I don’t take it lightly.”
Many people may not know that you are an aspiring model as well. What inspired you to model and can we expect anything new from that side of your creativity?
“What inspired me to model initially was my grandmother, she always told me I was real photogenic. Aside from my grandmother, I had a really bad relationship when I was 18 and it brought my self- esteem down. When I saw my first modeling shots, I saw my pose, how I looked and I was proud of me. I felt better about myself. It’s a shame that we have to go through these things as women to see our real beauty, but I did and it made me have a passion for seeing myself in that light. I plan to do more photography in the future with my photographer. She’s who I feel comfortable with and who knows me the best.”
What has been your biggest obstacle when it comes to pursuing your business and making a name for yourself?
“My biggest obstacle has been patience. More or less patience with kids, their parents, the criticism. Doing a child’s hair for the first time can be difficult, and I also want to earn the parent’s trust, so I have to be patient with the child and myself, as well as understanding. I’ve heard people criticize my prices, which also takes patience because I want to build my business, but I’m also not going to sell myself short. I don’t think everyone understands the products, time and work that goes into doing each person’s hair, not only that, I go to my customers. So Patience with myself as well as with others is still hard for me and something I’m working on.”
How do you balance working and maintaining a fully booked schedule?
“Dunkin Donuts (lol). I work overnight, so the only thing I’m really missing most days is sleep. I get off in the morning and I go straight to doing hair, especially on the weekends during school time. Right now the only thing I’m focusing on is being stable. I take my days, where I cut everything off and have time to myself. Those days are important to me.”
What advice do you have for young women on authenticity, and individuality; meaning the mindset “everybody does hair” or “everybody models”?
“At the end of the day, you are your own person. If you feel like you are good at something or passionate about something, go for it. There’s always going to be people that try to make you think twice about your dreams. Ignore those people. Don’t let the negativity of everyone else get to you. It’s important to surround yourself around the right people. My circle is very small, because I had to realize who was really there for me and had my best interest at heart. If you have a dream be like NIKE and just do it, surround yourself with the right people and BE YOURSELF. Your work will always speak for itself.”
What do you have to say to all women about pursing their dreams and handling challenges?
“Don’t be afraid and don’t be discouraged. If you make an attempt to do something and it doesn’t work out, go for it again. Life is a learning process and we are our own best teachers. Just like me, there’s a lot I still don’t know about braiding and I’m always learning new braids and perfecting old ones. Also, something I’m learning is to invest in yourself. Promoting your business, your work and invest in it. Be your own biggest supporter and never stop learning.”