TOPSHELFDIVA OF THE MONTH: SHANEEK STEELE CEO OF WIDIN INC.
Would you believe January is over already! Well you know what that means, a new month, a new TopshelfDiva! This month I have the pleasure of highlighting a good friend of mine Shaneek Steele. Shaneek is an amazing NYC Hairstylist whose work has been seen on runways, print, and red carpets. She’s also the CEO of her own hair care line, WIDIN Inc. Now I know what you’re thinking, “oh that’s her friend that’s why she’s being highlighted”. WRONG! Shaneek is a living breathing testament to HUSTLE and GRIT and I can’t wait for you to get to meet her.
Read more after the jump…..
Explain to me what does WIDIN mean and where did it come from?
The name WIDIN is actually the pronunciation of the word “WITHIN” founded in the British dictionary. It means inside. The purpose of our products is to balance the scalp and hair PH by infusing the moisture it lacks. What makes us different is unlike some products that may sit and coat the hair and make it “look” pretty, our focus is on penetrating and repairing the problem from within. Hence where our brand name came about. I’ve come to realize most people overlook the accent in the D, which gives it that “TH” sound and it tickles me every time when I hear people try to say it. I love that though! It just opens the floor for a conversation.
When did you know you had a passion for healthy hair care and hair styling?
Working at Hairstyling by Joseph’s started my passion for haircare and hairstyling. They taught me how to understand hair from another spectrum. Joseph’s has been around for over 63yrs and one thing they are known for is hair care, especially in the African-American community. Reviving a person’s hair and making it healthy again kind of makes me feel like a hero. My signature hairstyles are very voluminous, bouncy, and with shine. In order to achieve this I know my foundation has to be healthy hair. Therefore I make it my core focus at all times.
How did you start out in the beauty/hair industry?
Well after graduating from Penn State, I got a decent job working in a bank. Shortly after, I was laid off due to the economic crisis . I was forced to move back home in NY, and find a hustle until a solid job offering came along. Doing hair became that hustle for me. I never saw it as a career until I entered beauty school. I went from wanting to be an entertainment lawyer to a Hairstylist within 6 months. At times I like to joke around and tell people I became a hairstylist by default, but it’s one of the best things that ever happened to me.
At what point did you decide to take your passion and turn into a business?
So as I mentioned before, haircare is something I take seriously. I’m always beautifying others and never myself. Not because I didn’t want to. I just couldn’t make the time to put that same energy in my own hair. My psoriasis got worse over time where it began spreading across my hairline. My hair was getting dry, dull, and very fine. I was getting tired of hiding under my wigs and started creating time for myself. I was buying every product you can think of and nothing helped. Nothing. I decided to do a blog on my hair journey finding products and ingredients that could fix my problem. With proper research and experimenting, I came upon the perfect ingredients that worked for me. I never thought about turning it into a business. I just needed something to control my flakes and keep this hair hydrated. It was actually a few friends that pushed me….. S/O to them.
Can you describe what were some of the sacrifices you had to make to turn your dream into a reality?
Be prepared to go broke and say good bye to your social life. Creating a business is no game. It’s going to consume all of you. Your time, your energy, and your money. Lobster dinners will turn into Ramen Noodles. 6 hours of sleep will be 3 hours. You may have to skip paying a bill to pay for a trademark. These are sacrifices that will have to be made if you want to see your business flourish.
How important do you think it is to have mentors and who are some of yours?
It’s very very very important to have a mentor or few. It’s a tough road to do it alone. Mentors are there to help guide you. My mentor is Rebekah Rich. She’s an esthetician located in midtown Manhattan. There are a few others, but she’s been by my side since day 1. Remember : you still have to put the work in. They aren’t going to hold your hand. Mentors aren’t your business partners. They are there to coach and give advice when needed. Those that don’t have and are seeking a mentor, I would recommend to get business tips and advice from SCORE. They’re very credible and helpful.
Tell me about 2 stand out experiences that have impacted your life today?
Two experiences that have impacted my life are : Being a born again Christian and working with Nia Long.Walking with God has taught me discipline, commitment and what it means to live by his will. He has created miracles in my life and helped me achieve things that I couldn’t possibly do on my own. So I always give my glory to him. Now, my experience with Nia Long taught me one thing and that is: ALWAYS BE PREPARED. It was my day off and I was assigned to take a last minute gig. I’m thinking it’s a usual job I normally get. So I brought my usual tools for a usual client. When I get to the location, Nia opens the door and welcomes me in. Nia Long!!!!! I was blown away and yet nervous. I didn’t have the proper tools to achieve the style she wanted. All my years of slaying hair I never felt so defeated. And it was Nia Long. She was so sweet, but I knew I didn’t meet her expectations. And it was all because I assumed what the gig was and decided to under-pack my kit instead of overpacking. But if our path shall ever cross, I’ll be ready.
Make sure you’re subscribed to see who is March’s TopshelfDiva of the Moth will be!
xoxo – Summer Terry