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Family Affair


Sherie Holder-Olutayo

Family Affair

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SOME THINGS in life seem almost predestined. Take Dr Carol Williams’ decision to name her hair salon after her only daughter Khadija.
Was it wishful thinking on her mother’s part that her daughter would assume the mantle and follow in her mother’s footsteps? Did the mother hope, like many parents do, that her business wouldn’t end with her?
Whatever Williams’ motivation was behind the name, it worked. Khadija may have been young when her mother opened the shop, but today you can find mother and daughter working side by side.
“She was about two years old when we selected the name,” said Williams.  “In this area where Khadija’s is there was a salon in Top Rock with my name and I didn’t want to use the same name because I thought it would conflict. I wanted the salon to have its own identity. When I looked at the name Khadija it just jumped out at me and it was fresh.”
It seems that everything is in the name because Khadija literally grew up in that salon, and it became a part of who she was and eventually will become.
“When Khadija went to school at St Lawrence Primary school she would stay with me at the shop after school,” her mother recalled. You would find her working on the mannequin heads, always brushing and combing, and she had a lot of dolls as well.  When she was nine or ten she was in the salon every Saturday. From time to time I would ask her to do little chores so she had that  hands-on experience from an early age. 
“She would take out the rollers, help me with fixing the trolleys. If a client wanted a glass of water she would get it. She always had a broom and she started to imitate me quite early.”
Not only was Khadija imitating her mother but she was laying the groundwork for her future career path.“I didn’t think that I would have necessarily ended up in the field, but I realized early on that I enjoyed it and I’m good at it so I jumped right in,” Khadija said of her decision to pursue formal studies in cosmetology.     
At the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, Khadija trained in cosmetology along with doing courses in make-up, especially using the airbrush technique. 
Now with her studies completed, Khadija is working full-time with her mother. Unlike several of her contemporaries who would have to search for jobs and carve out their own careers, Khadija isn’t taking her mother’s business for granted. 
“I feel quite privileged and at times overwhelmed because my mum’s shoes are pretty large shoes to fill,” she said. “While I’m trying to forge my own path, I know a lot of people don’t have the opportunity that I have.”
So just how does a mother and daughter, with different approaches to life, work, and style, fare working together?
“It’s interesting because she is my mum and I’m younger and obviously I have a different style, but other than that it’s fun,” Khadija says of working with her mother.
“Khadija is different in everything. She thinks modern and trendy where I still think old school and she has a different eye to things,” Williams said. “We don’t share the same views . . . She has her own signature. 
“Even in management styles because the way she was trained at school and the way I was trained are different. We do things differently. She has her own mind, but I do believe she is going to forge her own path in asserting her trade.”
Williams does admit that she feels a deep sense of pride and joy knowing that her business won’t end with her.
“This has made me feel very happy. I didn’t name the salon after me and I was hoping she would take it up and take it forward. I saw from early that the salon started to become part of her. 
“I find that she is more into a lot of the details and she fits into the industry with ease, so I know she will do well. With Khadija here we do different things and we can balance it. She runs the spa, does make-up, nails and runs the spa side of the business.
“If I have a regret it is that because of this industry we’re in I’ve never been able to take my daughter to a fair on Saturday. It took away my Saturday bonding time with her, but we did other things.”
Williams, who also has two sons, 30-year-old Damon and 28-year-old Bernard, who studied mechanical engineering  and is now doing a Master’s in project management, has plenty of reasons to be proud of her children. 
With Khadija fulfilling her dreams, this mother has reached her pinnacle. She and her husband of 30 years have raised good children and are ready to write different chapters in their lives, leaving their kids to carry on.
“I know where I want to take the business and when I think about it sometimes it can be overwhelming because I know it’s a lot of work. I know where I want to go and I know I’ll get there for sure,” Khadija said. “I love cutting and colouring because it allows me as a stylist to show my skill. I believe your hair is not complete without a good cut and colour.
“In the next five years, definitely to raise the standard. I know we have exceptional customer service and I would like to improve that [and] also raise the salon’s visibility. 
“It scares me thinking of running the salon on my own. My mum’s been trying to leave for the last two years, but I haven’t been allowing it even though when I’m on my own I’m fine. But I’m just not ready for her to go just yet.”

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