GARFIELD HEIGHTS — A group of entrepreneurs are styling a Garfield Heights corner in their likeness. Kidz Style Lounge is the site of the transformations.
Hairstylist Brandy Bates said this is the fresh start she needed and she’s using it to lead by example.
“I’m also formally incarcerated,” Bates said. “In 2013, I was indicted in federal conspiracy. I spent a year and a day in prison camp. I knew it was going to be a struggle to find a job.”
Bates had used braiding as a means of income through high school, but she had never considered it career-worthy. However, her struggle to find employment changed her mind.
“I got licensed,” Bates said. “I came home, and my best friend told me to braid her hair. It was a new style that she wanted, I put it on Instagram and there were 100 messages like 'Can you braid my hair like this?’ When I researched it, I found out how much money the hair style was that I did on her, I was like well, maybe I can because I do need some money.”
Word of Bates’ work spread on Instagram and further.
The Economic Community Development Institute liked the idea of giving women like Bates a chance to succeed. The organization offers small business loans to entrepreneurs like Bates, who might have trouble with banks.
"We want to lower the barriers for home-based businesses, home based entrepreneurs," said Jasmine Dixon with Economic Community Development Institute.
A group of ladies, all stylists, joined Bates in her business venture. They took classes through ECDI to learn financial and marketing skills.
“In order to teach people the habits and the behaviors that they need in order to create wealth, this has to be an ongoing thing,” said Dixon. “What’s the purpose of the poor continuing to be poor? Who does it serve?”
Bates and her partners will get clients ready for Easter. Her salon is offering reduced prices for services Easter Weekend.
Kidz Style Lounge is located at 4604 Turney Road.
This story is part of A Better Land , an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here .