Local Salon Owner is Giving Gifts of Beauty and Awareness to Community

By Morgan Barber

imageLakiesha Jernigan, dressed in black, bustles around her Parkville hair salon chatting with customers.

“I remember when you cut my hair a month after receiving your cosmetology license about 12 years ago,” says Michelle Watson, a customer who is in Jernigan’s chair getting her hair styled. “It was so uneven. But I understood and did not get mad but gave you another chance. I’m glad I did because the aura in here is peaceful.”

Lakiesha Jernigan’s Take Tyme salon is decorated in a calming red, black and white—all part of her master marketing plan for the shop.

There were hair clips, mousse, styling spray, a curling iron and two flat irons. Also, a few old towels lay on the left side of the station ready to get thrown into the dirty towel bin next to the shampoo bowls at the back of the salon.

Jernigan is only 30 years old and has owned her salon since she was 26—and she’s dreamed about doing so since she was 14.

Life wasn’t easy for Jernigan as she was growing up. She’s a successful business owner now, which has changed her perception and gave her hope for those young girls around her. Her childhood was tough. How can someone from such a broken become so accomplished? “Motivation and determination,” Jernigan said.

When she was four, her dad just up and left. She never heard from him again which upset her and made her feel unwanted. “How could someone just up and leave their child?” she asked.

Not having a stable father figure in the household also affected her emotionally. It was hard for her to date and trust guys she was dating. Also, her mother had different men in and out of the house which did not set a good example for her younger sister or her. “This caused the disconnection between my sister Toya Wright, my mom and me.”

“My sister was so distraught by everything that happened with my mom and all these men that she looked for comfort in a female, who she became incredibly attracted to.“They are now married,” Jernigan said.

One thing Jernigan did not want to witness was another young girl going through what she went through so she created a program titled WAIT (With Abstinence is Time).

Jernigan completed her high school education at Mervo Technical Institute, majoring in Cosmetology. “Doing hair is something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “As I would get my hair done at the salon, I noticed how women would come in from a bad day at work and leave the salon with a smile on their face. I wanted to make that difference in ones life. Make women feel beautiful and secure.”

Jernigan went on to complete her college education at Morgan State University as a marketing major in hopes of owning her own salon upon graduation. “School was comforting and was the gateway to what was going on a home, like my happy place.”

In college Jernigan was involved in ABC Modeling team and took the spot as Miss ABC two years in a row. She was very well-known. Many people knew her because of her big, knotted, natural blonde-brown hair. Her style of dress was unique as she wore various colors together and different colored glasses daily. Many judged her, but she knew who she was and what she wanted, which was to be successful. This was during the time when people were afraid to be themselves and wear their natural hair.

Jernigan could care less about what anyone thought of her and that’s exactly why she made it.

Throughout high school and college, she worked as a stylist assistant at Inspirations Hair and Nail Studio in Baltimore. This job required her to shampoo clients’ hair, answer the phone and restock products. She wanted more. She no longer wanted to be told what to do. She wanted to be the boss.

Graduating at the age of 22, she knew her life was about to start. 

“First, I need to move into my own home and then go from there,” Jernigan said. So she gathered three of her friends and they roomed together in a four- bedroom apartment on the East side of Baltimore.

About two years later she overheard a client talking about how there was a property for sale in Parkville that would be a great location for a salon. Two days later, she went to look at it and immediately fell in love. “I had to buy it, by any means necessary,” Jernigan said.

“ I have watched Kiesha grow into this successful woman and she makes things happen,” Thomika Mitchell from Brooklyn, New York said. “I even come to get my hair done every three weeks because I just love her so much.”

Brittany Evans said, “I have been a faithful client of hers for five years and any style I want she gives me, the best.”

“WAIT! Thats what we all need to do,” she said. Jernigan’s WAIT program consists of 10 girls between the ages of 11-18. They discuss topics such as sex, drugs and personal issues they do not feel comfortable discussing with their parents. Jernigan informs them of diseases that could be caught if they do not protect themselves but mainly waiting to have sex, period. Not only is she the leader of the group, she is their mentor.

There are also four of her friends around the age of 30 that watch over these girls and they have been through a lot growing up as well. One of Jernigan’s friends, Nicole Thorton, got raped by her uncle at 16. She has not allowed this to affect her and is successful in her field of psychology helping people cope with the same issues.

Not only are these women affecting lives, but they can relate to the girls. There are so many leaders of these types of organizations who have no clue how young girls really feel in today’s society. But WAIT proves that hard work and determination is the only way to success no matter what you’ve gone through.

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