'I'm still breathing' I'm the owner of Genuine African Braiding, on Main Street in downtown Littleton. I began my business in 1999, when I moved to the United States from Liberia. For many years …
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'I'm still breathing'
I'm the owner of Genuine African Braiding, on Main Street in downtown Littleton. I began my business in 1999, when I moved to the United States from Liberia.
For many years before I left Liberia, the country was in a civil war. Brothers killing brothers. It doesn't matter what side you support — war hurts everyone. From the age of 6, I knew war.
In a way, it made me stronger. You learn to acknowledge what's important: I'm still breathing. I'm still alive. God is with me, and he's in control.
The land of opportunity
America and Liberia have strong connections — it was founded by freed slaves from America. The capital is Monrovia, named after the American President James Monroe. There are strong cultural ties too.
When I left Liberia, I came straight to Colorado with my husband. I started my business the same month I arrived. I wanted to work for myself. America is the land of opportunity. If you work hard, you have a chance to do what you want to do.
I learned to braid as a young girl, but it wasn't necessarily a cultural thing. My mom and sisters don't know how to braid.
Braiding is an art. It's like playing the piano — you can read the notes, but you have to feel it too. If you do braiding wrong, it can be painful, or too tight.
Better than money
In Africa, braiding was something I loved to do. Here, it's my career. It's the icing on my cake. Seeing someone leave my shop with a smile, feeling beautiful, that's better than money to me.
It's never boring. I meet so many kinds of people. They sit in my chair for hours, and we get to know each other. They become family after just a visit or two.
Many of the other African braiding salons in the Denver area are in Aurora or on Colfax. People have asked me if it's strange to have this shop in Littleton, where there aren't a lot of Black people.
But braiding isn't just for one kind of person. It's for everyone. It's not about being Black. It's about expressing yourself. If you do your job right, people will come.
God bless us all
I'm very family-oriented. My husband is a real estate agent, and his office is in the back of the shop. My twin daughters know how to braid, and they help me after school.
We're working to adopt two children from Liberia. There are kids with nothing. My kids are 18, and we want to pay the love we've received from God forward.
My hope is God will keep blessing our family.
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