We had the good fortune of connecting with Chanda Austin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chanda, how does your business help the community?
I started this journey not really knowing how it would impact children. What I did know is that I had a vision and I needed our voices to be heard and our children to be seen. I remember it like it was yesterday watching my daughter struggle with her self-esteem and hearing how Black hair has been dehumanized in some spaces, hence the CROWN ACT. I also wanted to see more children of color in children’s literature. I wanted little girls of color to open up a book and get excited about each page that they turned. One year later, through my book and the voice of Qiana’s Braids, I have been asked to work with two non-profit organizations, one local,Read4Unity, which is based in Alpharetta, GA and EduLiber , which is based in Denver, Co. Both organizations are committed to ensuring that children’s literature bridge the gap of unity and inspire a diverse narrative for all children. I’ve also launched the “Black Men Teach” Academic Scholarship in honor of Dr. Darryl L. Sawyers for a Black male majoring in education at my beloved HBCU, Alabama A&M University. This scholarship was created to encourage, support, and honor Black men who are working towards their undergraduate degree in education at Alabama A&M University. Dr. Darryl Sawyers was a dear friend of mine who unfortunately passed away. So, I wanted to do something to honor his legacy and love for people.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
By day, I am an educator. I have been an educator for over 20 years, By night, I would say that I am a creator. Qiana’s Braids was the beginning of my little humble brand. From the book, I curated a holiday box during the holidays for little girls called the BBox. The BBox was a small, personal box that included bows, a bonnet, a book and a t-shirt. I am in the process of launching a hair growth oil using Qiana’s name again. Qiana’s Hair Growth Oil is in the prototype stage and has received some rave reviews.
With all processes there are challenges. My biggest challenge has been time and learning how to balance being a full-time, single mother, an employee for someone else and a creator of all things amazing. There is never enough time on this journey so, I guard it very carefully.
I’ve learned through this journey to give, give, give, Give intentionally. Give gracefully. Give with a pure heart.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
So, I live near East Atlanta Village and I think most of the cool spots are located on the EASTSIDEEEEEEE. We would start out at brunch at HomeGrown where they have THE BEST fried chicken and check out my book that they recently decided to carry. From there, we would slide over to Ponce City Market and do some people watching, shopping and eating. I love that you can basically eat whatever in there. You can find something for whatever your taste buds desire. After a walking adventure around Ponce City Market, we would hit up HippinHopsBrewery for some craft beer and banging seafood. To end it all, we would check out TenATL for some live music.
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 have to ShoutOut my daughter who has been very gracious with allowing me to tell her story about her struggling with her hair and her self-esteem. She is my hero for so many reasons. She is most definitely my “why” in this life.
I have to ShoutOut my TRIBE. I remember someone telling me once, “baby, you can’t live this life alone”. I have an AMAZING group of women and men around me who keep me focused, grounded and accountable.
Instagram: Qiana’s Braids
Facebook: Qiana Braids
@Cherelle Scott @Benita Grant