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Kiyah Wright

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Kiyah Wright learned how to excel in the business of beauty the hard way. Now the Emmy award-winning hairstylist is sharing her experiences with other professionals to help guide their journeys to creative success. 


Source: Penguin Random House / Penguin Random House

Her book “From Beauty to Business: The Guaranteed Strategy to Building, Running, and Growing a Successful Beauty Business” covers the nuances of what it takes to thrive in the beauty industry. After learning cosmetology practices from her mom and starting a home salon in her basement at fourteen years old, she established a sustainable career.

Through the years, she went from a kitchen beautician to a glam powerhouse and is now making the “natural transition” into using her expertise to develop consumer services.

33rd Annual Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards - Hollywood Press Room

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The Television Academy awarded Wright two consecutive Emmy Awards for her work on The Tyra Banks Show in 2006 and 2007. Since then, she has worked to develop skills in the newest techniques and remain a force in the field. She shared five keys to maintaining success with HelloBeautiful

Stay Innovative 

“I just like to learn constantly,” said Wright. She stressed the importance of training after procuring your license; nothing happens if stylists refuse to grow.

“You just get dated,” she forewarned. “And your hand gets old.”

“Some people just have older hands, not physically, but just like [in] figurative speech,” she continued. “Your hand is old, your style of curling hair is older. You only know one way.”

The risk of growing stilted can advance with suite culture, a growing trend where stylists work alone instead of in a collaborative salon setting. “I still think that stylists need stylists,” she said. “I love working with other styles so that I can learn.

“Because think about it,” she added. “You’re in a room by yourself. You’re not learning anything from anyone.”

“I believe that when you work by yourself, you get used to your own habit, your own way of styling. You’re not open to anything new.” 

Wright is a big fan of collaborating on projects like editorial photo shoots. She shares her 2006 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling with another talented stylist Theresa Broadnax. 

Update Your Portfolio 

Trends have migrated since Tyra’s talk show, one of the first to normalize lace wigs in mainstream spaces, has been sunset, and Wright has been on point with all of them. “You really do want to stay on trend with what you do and keep your work visual,” she said. 

She recommends that stylists keep their portfolio current and elegant. “Take beautiful pictures, invest in your craft,” she said. 

Her online portfolio, attached to her eponymous website, is full of hi-res images that feature her work for Ebony Magazine, Good Morning America, Red Table Talk, and more. It is neatly organized into categories and features a link to her agent to streamline the booking process. 

Maintain Decorum 

Social media has convinced every professional, from doctors to personal chefs, that they should be flaunting their personal brands above all else. Wright, who has worked on the manes of Angela Simmons, ​​Zendaya, Lala Anthony, Jennifer Hudson, Janet Mock, and more, believes it is wise to maintain professionalism.

“With celebrities, you have to know your boundaries. You’re not the star,” she said.

Even if your fav flew you out to do her lashes, and you can’t wait to go live and tell your followers, she thinks you should keep it cute.

Do Right By Uncle Sam 

Wright advises other stylists to dedicate time to understanding their tax obligations prior to reviving what can become a ballooning bill.

Her desire to share the risks* stems from personal experience. “I really got into some huge tax compromises when I was very early on in my career,” she said.

She has seen other stylists fall victim to “just not paying your money, your taxes on time.”

Her book contains detailed instructions on best practices for estimating quarterly tax fees. It also includes direct links to resources like 941 forms. No special software is required; any smartphone can access the information she lays out with the help of co-writer Shirley Neal.

“I put a lot of QR codes in there, just so it wouldn’t be, you know, difficult to find anything,” said Wright.

Unpaid taxes can be subject to interest penalties with the potential to bury a fledging business owner. Even the most informal business practices can be tracked through the electronic payment apps popular with hustling braiders, weavologists, and other beauticians across the country. “A lot of young girls start out doing hair in college as a hustle to make money,” she explained.

“When you don’t pay that money, it just sort of accrues over time,” she said. “I started out with a 35 thousand dollar bill. It ended up being 80 thousand.”  

Understand That Business Is Cyclical 

Wright has managed to stay “relevant” throughout her career, but it was not without its challenges. 

She suggests that stylists face lulls in demand for their services with the proper perspective. “That doesn’t mean you’re not good. This industry has ebbs and flows,” she said knowingly. 

Learn how to level up your beauty business with From Beauty to Business: The Guaranteed Strategy to Building, Running, and Growing a Successful Beauty Business


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5 Tips To Level Up Your Beauty Business From Emmy-Winning Hairstylist Kiyah Wright  was originally published on