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Mane and Tail: UNT sophomore creates hair business out of home

Mane and Tail: UNT sophomore creates hair business out of home

Lara works with a variety of different sew ins and wigs for her clients to choose from.

Mane and Tail: UNT sophomore creates hair business out of home
February 28
11:00 2018

If your wig has been snatched, Lara Anibire will be happy to sew it back in for you. Literally.

“You know how people loved Barbies and would dress them up?” Aninire said. “I did not want to dress them up. I just wanted to do their hair.”

Sitting in her apartment, the accounting sophomore fiddles with a Styrofoam head covered in tiny metal pins and mounted onto an old tripod for maximum mannequin-like quality. As a hairstylist, this is where she spends most of her days and long nights — braiding hair, sewing wigs and finishing products ready to be shipped out to her many customers.

Over the course of a few years, Anibire has built a hair business out of her own home, providing services to both locals and out-of-state customers as well.

“It’s just crazy how [hairstyling] started as a hobby, but now it’s my source of income,” Anibire said.

Lara works with a variety of different sew-ins and wigs for her clients to choose. TJ Webb

Anibire was born in Nigeria where, as a child, she stood out among the other children due to her distinct interest in hair. Anibire’s mother Victoria says after discovering this, she encouraged her daughter’s passions, often buying her different types of dolls to experiment with.  

“When you notice a child doing something good, you have to encourage her,” Victoria said. “In those days when I traveled and used to go to Paris, I’d buy very big dolls, some as tall as she is. She really trained herself. She just wanted to try something, and when she tried, she got it right.”

At age 10, Anibire moved to the United States, a change that drew her even closer to hairstyling.

“I would still play with my Barbies,” Anibire said. “I was still new to this country so I [kept] more to myself and my family.”

Once she moved to Texas during her freshman year of high school, Anibire started doing sew-ins, a type of weave that is sewed into the hair instead of being glued onto the scalp. She says she charged only $30 for each, a choice she visibly cringes at now. But this was just another stepping stone that led to her business.

“When we were in high school and she did my hair, she did it so good,” close friend Zuri Sheppard said. “We were so young, I didn’t know people that young could do hair so [well].”

Anibire said the business truly started forming during her freshman year. Since most freshmen live without a car and shop around Denton, Anibire started to gain customers due to her prime location — her room in Kerr Hall.

“I had friends from Garland and other schools come here,” Anibire said. “It was crazy because they were driving an hour to get their hair done in my dorm.”

Her customer base grew, and now in her sophomore year, Anibire has cultivated a social media following on Twitter and Instagram, with customers posting their hair with the hashtag, #LaidByLara. She also manages her own beauty and lifestyle YouTube channel, which has also drawn attention to her styling.

“The way [the customer] looks depends on you,” Anibire said. “That’s kind of scary but also thrilling because they look so much better, their face is pulled back and lifted.”

Customers can choose from a range of options, from different types of braids and sew-ins to dreadlocks and faux locks. Anibire factors in the cost of hair, which can range in quality depending on her selection of vendors: Happy Hair, Beautyforever, Kendra’s Boutique and Nadula Hair.

“For sew-ins and wigs, if I’m not buying the hair, it’s usually $80 to $120,” Anibire said. “But if I have to buy the hair, it can be $250 up to $400. Braids start at $80, and it can go up to $140.”

Anibire says being able to financially support herself has played a very important role as a college student and daughter.

“My parents pay for my tuition,” Anibire said. “I don’t have loans or financial aid or anything like that, so it’s really out of pocket. Even if sometimes we have money problems, I can help out because I have my own hair business and I can put money back into their pockets.”

From sewing and braiding to dyeing hair, the work itself is a time-consuming process. Anibire said braids take up between six to seven hours, whereas dreads can take up to 12 hours, and sew-ins take up two or three.

As a heavily involved student, this requires a delicate balancing act.

“I try not to do hair every single day because I have schoolwork to do, I have YouTube to do, I have orgs, but I really try to balance it,” Anibire said. “Even sometimes I work on hair until three in the morning, wake up late for classes but you know, that’s the life.”

Even small things others might not consider, like having short nails, factors into the process as well.

“I had my nails done, and I had to break every nail off,” Anibire said. “You cannot have long nails and try to do hair, it’s just not going to work out.”

However, Anibire said she plans to continue the business after graduation with her accounting degree as a safety net.

“I just want to know I have a degree if I have to use it,“ Anibire said. “Of course, I‘m going to use it in some aspect, like money budgeting, but if I can open up my own hair business I would definitely do that instead of working under somebody.”

Though she has been doing it since childhood, Anibire continues to grow and learn about her work day by day.

“There’s always progress to be made,” Anibire said. “There are hair stylists that I look up to on Instagram, and they are so good, and the fact that they’re still trying to get better at their work is motivation just to get up there.”

Featured Image: Lara Anibire works with a variety of different sew-ins and wigs for her clients to choose from. TJ Webb

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Amy Roh

Amy Roh

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