Welcome to SHAWNTELWAAJID.COM. I am Shawntel Waajid, Master Braider and Premier Natural Hair Specialist. Originally a native of Hartford, Connecticut, I now reside and commute between Savannah, Georgia and the greater Atlanta area. My initial introduction to this vast world of hair care came about at the tender age of 7 (whoa, that was thirty-seven years ago).
Since then I’ve completed extensive cosmetology training through Atlanta Technical College. I am proud to announce that I have been a licensed cosmetologist since 2003, although in its obviousness, my opinion on proper hair maintenance has shifted with the passing years.
I am beyond grateful as styling has always come naturally to me. But I must admit, the initial desire to become a cosmetologist was not there. It wasn’t until I was introduced to Taliah Waajid, pioneering innovator of the natural realm, that I gained a major interest in this world.
Connecting with Taliah opened my eyes to an entirely new truth. Attending cosmetology school actually taught me how to damage and weaken hair, but maintain it to a salvageable state. The curriculum teaches you the right way to do the wrong thing, in other words damage hair correctly. So, it was through my understanding that I went on to further expound my knowledge in the composition of various chemicals that women, myself included, have applied to our scalps.
Taliah had become my unofficial mentor through my transition. It’s because of her personal guidance and unique braiding technique that I was able to adjust and amplify my own skills. Now, the application of protective styling no longer results in breakage or the loss of my clients’ hairline.
October 2008, I participated in a 3-day hands-on Taliah Waajid Workshop, with Taliah as an instructor alongside brother, Jibril Waajid. I must have done something right in those three days, two weeks later I found myself a part time stylist at the Taliah Waajid Natural Hair Care Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
Back then, I was still rocking my signature tapered cuts, those looks only achievable by way of the creamy crack! But, salon manager, Amin Waajid, made it perfectly clear that I couldn’t be relaxed working in my new natural environment. It had come down to let the relaxer go or be let go. What do you think happened? I shaved my hair off! And never looked back.
April 2009, Taliah chose me as Assistant Instructor, for her 3-Day Seminar. Crazy how six months prior to, I was the student of the class I’d be teaching. I quickly transitioned out of the Assistant Instructor role into the Lead Instructor of her annual seminars, where many woman and men from all walks of life come to inherit our vast understanding of natural hair.
February 4, 2011, (six weeks after being laid off from my career of twenty-two and a half years) Jibril and I opened the doors to our very own “natural” haircare salon, The Nappy Hutt, in Savannah, Georgia. My “part time” was now my full-time. We have been blessed with a large following of clientele whom are appreciative of our choice to live and offer a chemical free life.
The Nappy Hutt team has held meet-ups, spoken at trade shows, schools, and forums throughout Georgia for outreach and awareness. Though I continue to instruct on behalf of Taliah Waajid every year at the World Natural Hair Health and Beauty Show, I now offer classes as well.
October 2014, Hair-N-Motion Magazine named me a nominee for Braider/Natural Hair Stylist of the Year. I didn’t win, but the nomination meant a lot.
With recent thoughts of possible expansion opportunities for the Nappy Hutt, I and three other Nappy Hutt Savannah team members are now licensed braiders in the state of Texas. Though I am a proud owner of a hair salon, it is my ultimate dream to open the doors to my own academy. With my training, you’ll be prestige amongst your competitors with an upper hand of thirty plus braid and twist techniques! This is because I have literally learned from the best.
I thank God, first and foremost for my gift, but I also thank Taliah and Jibril for their exceptional training. Today, I refer to myself as Master Braider and Premier Natural Hair Stylist without question, doubt, or CHALLENGE.
If you have trailed a similar journey, welcome. The doors to the natural world are welcoming, this is where it (WE) all began nonetheless.