By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member
Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Shequitta Kelly used to be a self-professed penny pincher. Being a single, teenage mother, she lived her life on a strict budget to be able to provide for her family while putting herself through law school.
Her lifelong dream to become a judge was inspired by her grandfather, who Kelly considers her hero, and in 2015, after years of working as a prosecutor, she achieved her judicial goal. She’s presided over all domestic violence cases in Dallas County for almost eight years, and she’s about to enter her next term.
Throughout her life, Kelly has always been a woman who cherishes her hair, but the expensive costs of hair extensions, weaves and wigs frustrated her, especially considering her inclination to save money.
“After becoming a successful career woman, I found myself wasting money, and it just didn’t sit well with me,” said Kelly. “But, I still had this need to want to look good and make sure that my hair looked good.”
The hair used for weaves can cost anywhere from $80 to $600, and the viability of the hair is dependent on how well a person maintains and stores it. After noticing that she was spending a significant amount of money to replace her weaves, she tried to preserve them.
She would throw them in grocery and ziplock bags intending to use them again, but they would get tangled and damaged. Kelly went to the internet to see if she could buy a product to store her weaves, but her search was unsuccessful.
Rather than continue to be plagued by recurrent high costs, Kelly designed her own product to keep the hair fresh and protected. In her sewing closet, she stitched pieces of satin together to create what she dubbed The Hair Shield.
She was so pleased with her invention that she shared it with her friends. They wanted some of their own, and after trying The Hair Shield, they urged her to monetize the product.
In 2018, Kelly put The Hair Shield on the market after working with stylists to perfect it and enlisting a designer and manufacturer.
“When I made this product, I was thinking about
] We’ve always struggled with our hair, and it’s been an issue in our life from being a little girl sitting down when your grandma’s pressing your hair out to now sitting in a salon getting your weave put in,” said Kelly. “If I can make that a little bit more of a pleasurable experience and a little bit less costly for my girls
] my sisters, then hey, I’m happy.”
The Hair Shield is a satin-lined protective unit that stores, transports and protects hair extensions, wigs, weaves and bundles. The use of satin helps reduce frizzing and dryness, and it’s open on each end, allowing for breathability.
The Hair Shield rolls up and clamps the hair down flat, preventing tangling and allowing users to retrieve their hair and immediately put it on. There is also a pocket on the outside of the product that holds an identification card where users can record the date they purchased the hair, the type of hair they purchased and which vendor they bought it from.
The product is also small enough that it’s easy to travel with, and Kelly refers to her patrons as “discreet divas,” because onlookers cannot deduce what they are transporting.
Doubling as a judge and entrepreneur has been challenging for Kelly because both careers are demanding. She fulfills all of the orders for The Hair Shield, from writing personalized messages accompanying the product to giving it the final lookover to shipping it from FedEx, after she’s done working at the court.
However, her dedication to helping Black women reduce the cost of maintaining their hair keeps her motivated. Understanding entrepreneurship by trial and error has allowed Kelly to become a more patient person, and she said that skill has purveyed into her work on the bench.
“Being a part of the solution to a problem is always rewarding,” said Kelly.
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