We had the good fortune of connecting with Celene Bowman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Celene, how do you think about risk?
No matter what your personal definition of success is, it is impossible to be successful without taking risks. Taking risks is apart of life. Risks are inevitable; however, what matters is how we manage the risks that we take.
I took a risky leap of faith when I stepped out of my comfort zone and labeled myself as a braider in college. I believed that my skills would continue to improve and launch me to a different place as I progressed throughout college. When I first started braiding other people’s hair, I had a few solid years of experience behind me. but I was nowhere near the level of expertise that I am now. I went from having no clients to being booked every single day in my college town. Everyone on campus knew who “Lele the braider” was.
I knew that I was going to experience a huge shift in clientele once I graduated college and moved back to my hometown. It was like I was at ground zero all over again as I had to go through the process of building a clientele and establishing my presence as qualified braider in my area. The pandemic hitting hard did not make this process any easier. I was forced to take a few months off from braiding. Having my last collegiate year being cut short and not even having a commencement ceremony, on top of not being able to braid hit hard. I was completely in my head because all of my plans were snatched right from under my feet. After some self-reflection and businesses getting back into the groove of things amidst the pandemic, I took a risk and built a website for my braiding business. As I began to take my craft more serious, I slowly but surely saw my clientele grow in my area- even in a pandemic!
I feel as though most people – especially small business owners in the service industry- were not prepared for something like this to happen. It is one thing to have and maintain proper risk management within a business as business functions as normal; but it is another thing to build and maintain proper risk management in the midst of a global pandemic. The risk management that I have built during the pandemic has allowed to me take my business more seriously than I was before as I was forced to really tackle every single minute detail that comes with running a business.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
When it comes to braiding, what sets me apart from others in my field is that I always aim to ensure that my clients are knowledgeable about their natural hair outside of and while they are wearing braids. My goal is tp provide my clients with an experience and a personable connection with me as their braider as I am always grateful that they chose me and trust me to handle something so delicate as the hair that grows from their heads- it truly is an honor.
It has not been easy getting to where I am today; however, the journey has been fun! I am always so proud of myself seeing how much I have transformed into the precise and careful braider that I am today. I have learned that braiding is not a “one size fits all”. Every braider braids differently; however, every braider does not possess the precision, accuracy, level of care, and level of knowledge about natural hair itself, that I posses.
I want the world to know that braiding is a form of art. Braiders are creatives. Braiders are artists. I want to to see the form of braiding respected a lot more.
In regard to my vegan and plant based food journey, I have also been in the process of taking that more seriously. I have been cooking entire meals for my family since I was ten years old. I love cooking and creating delicious meals just as much as I love braiding. Noting back to my mention of risk management and taking risks, my advice is to just do it. Whatever it is- just do it. This is what I have had to constantly tell myself when it comes to my food business. I dabbled into it while I was in college, but I couldn’t really focus on both it and my braiding business. I am in a place now in which I feel as though I am able to put energy into both of my passions instead of choosing one over the other.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would definitely take them to both Slutty Vegan and Bar Vegan. You cannot come to ATL without visiting Slutty Vegan. We would also be sure to stop by Skyline Park at Ponce City Market in the evening for the only over 21 crowd. When we have some downtime and the weather is nice, w picnic in Piedmont Park would be nice. We would also go to Cirque Daiquiri Bar & Grill in the daytime when it’s not so busy. There’s hidden gem I don’t think many people know of called “Our Bar ATL” in Edgewood that reminds me of the small bars in my collegetown. Good vibes and good drinks.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to shoutout my parents for constantly believing in me and pushing me to live my life on my own terms.
I’d also like to shoutout my friends because even though they tell me I’m on my “grown woman ish”, it’s them I look up to because they are the ones who have been by my side. They are the ones who beautifully and simultaneously juggle school, work, and a social life successfully.