Shequitta Kelly is finding great success as a court judge, but she’s still pushing herself above and beyond.
The Dallas County judge is the inventor of The Hair Shield, a satin-lined protective unit ready to store women’s hair extensions, wigs, and weaves at their convenience. The invention is thriving but it almost did not hit the market, as Kelly originally didn’t envision pursuing entrepreneurship.
“I had no plans to be an entrepreneur. I’m a book person, so I’ve always been that student that made good grades. If I applied myself, I could learn anything. I was not an easy learner, but if you gave me the material and I studied it hard, I can get it. Entrepreneurship is completely different. It never actually was something that I dreamt of doing,” Kelly told AfroTech exclusively.
Kelly would later have an awakening one night before a hair appointment while filtering through tangled and dried-out hair extensions. She realized the extensions could not be salvaged because they were not stored properly. Once again, Kelly spent her hard-earned coins on new hair, but she convinced herself there had to be a solution out there for her troubles. So, she scoured the internet.
“I was getting ready for a hair appointment I had the next day and I was just going through all this hair that was just unusable and it was frustrating for me,” Kelly told us. “So, I got online and I looked for something where I could find a neat way to protect and store the hair so I could reuse it and I couldn’t find anything.”
Frustrated by the lack of options, Kelly leaned on her knack for sewing and she put together a prototype in 2018 of what would eventually become The Hair Shield. The protective satin unit is a quality product that revives, transports, and “provides the optimal surface for storing extensions and ultimate quality preservation by reducing frizz and dryness,” according to information provided to AfroTech. Additionally, it ensures the hair will be free from bacteria and mildew.
Kelly reveals her product has preserved one of her favorite hair pieces, which has been stored since 2018.
“It still looks like brand new hair. I’ve had this hair since I made The Hair Shield and it proves that it’s not about so much spending all this money on hair. It’s about how you protect it and how you’re storing it. So, if I can have hair from 2018 to 2022 that looks like I just bought it, that means this product is working,” Kelly said.
The Hair Shield intentionally sits at $35 to ensure accessibility for customers.
“Black women don’t like to compromise when it comes to our beauty and we shouldn’t have to. The mission of The Hair Shield is to make women be able to still have that glamorous look that they want, without having to continuously throw money down the drain,” Kelly told AfroTech.
The product is increasing in favor among consumers but this has not necessarily put a halt to the tough lessons often faced by entrepreneurs.
“Because I don’t have the experience in entrepreneurship, I had a lot of pitfalls and I spent a lot of money where I could have avoided if I had a mentor. I made a lot of mistakes as a young entrepreneur that I guess you have to make to become wiser in life. There were costly mistakes, so it was not fun for me. I’ve had a lot of struggle to get this product to the marketplace because it’s not a product that people can pick up like a t-shirt and know what it is.”
She continued: “Although it has been a struggle, it is my baby and The Hair Shield has blossomed. It’s an amazing quality product and women who buy it absolutely love it. I am glad that I went ahead and pushed it and continue to hone my skills as an entrepreneur and learn new things. It was an unexpected blessing.”
As Kelly looks ahead, she hopes to secure her patent for the product. This would place her in a small category of Black women to achieve this feat. In addition, the founder hopes to secure a few store partnerships by 2023 and employ the youth with hopes of revitalizing their interests in entrepreneurship.
“As an entrepreneur with a successful business, I want to be able to employ a lot of young people and people like myself,” Kelly shared. “I want to be able to give someone a job where they can grow within the company and pursue other things like their own business or have someone like myself who can say, ‘This is how you can take your education or your career to the next level.’ That would ultimately be the goal for The Hair Shield, to affect my community on a whole other level like that I can’t do as a judge.”