We had the good fortune of connecting with Josephine Mwaniki and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Josephine, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My process started with that I did not want to be tied down to a 9-5. I decided to take a passion of mine and see how far it would go. I was not encouraged by the drive to capitalize. Yet, the drive to see Black Women honor and celebrated in non-European hairstyles in spaces that were not accepting of Black hairstyles.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I started braiding back in High School, I was always into art and creative expressions. That’s when I realized braiding was a creative outlet. After High School I was not excited to give another four years of my life to academia. I also did not want to regret not pursuing a passion in my older years. So, following a difficult conversation with my parents, my father found me a salon that was willing to allow me to sharpen my skills. I was told that I had a year to see if braiding hair would be a sustainable career. As children we do not like disappointing our parents. But, I just did not want to suck the excitement out of my passion and have it become this 9-5. So, I decided to go out on my own and move to Los Angeles where creativity is oozing off every boulevard. With that, moving to LA has had many challenges, I had to remind myself that anything in life worth having is not easy. It took awhile to not be personally affected by the challenges and learn to shift my business. Learning those shifts helped my business to expand. Some lessons I’ve learned on this journey of entrepreneurship is to take captive of every thought, hearing “No” is not indefinite it is just re-direction. Be gentle with yourself, show yourself grace and mercy, know your worth. And also, your integrity is very important and will get you in certain doors and spaces. I’ve been blessed with styling some amazing talented women. My work has been seen on BETJams, FLOX Health, Black Girl Suncreen, Target, PCH advertising, Luna b., SoulCycle, Girlfriend Collective, Good Moms Bad Choices Podcast, Revolt TV, to name a few. Niceandneat Braids is a small business that was created to celebrate and uplift Black beauty. I am here for all the Blackgirl Magic!
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.
I grew up in the Bay Area but I love LA. There is so much to do out here. I am not really into super trendy spaces. I love a good vibe and food. I also love catching limited attractions like The SuperBowl Experience, Wake Me When I’m Free (Tupac Exhitbit), The Black Hair Experience, so we are definitely finding one to attend. We are going to grab breakfast at my favorite spot Red’s Flavor Table in Inglewood. Best Creole inspired breakfast in LA hands-down. My favorite Chicken and waffle spots are Rusty Pot and Bru Wiffle. We would also have to check out some of my favorite coffee spots Hilltop Coffee and Nimbus Coffee. I am also a ambience rooftop type of gal. The restaurants we would hit through out the week would be Perch, Beauty & Essex, The Rooftop by JG, Nobu Malibu, The Little Door. I would have to take them to Redondo Beach pier for happy hour or Santa Monica for that LA beach vibe. We would have to hit the Culver City stairs, hike in Rancho Palos Verdes and catch a few SoulCycle classes with Dani R. Catch a comedy show off of Sunset Blvd. Go shopping off of Melrose Ave, Century City Mall, The Grove. I can keep going, there is so much to see in L.A. New bars and restaurants are always popping up, and a week is not enough time. These are just some of my favorite places to visit.
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?
First shoutout is to God. He has been the ultimate source of my strength and success. Nothing would have been possible without Him. I had a vision and He gave me provision. Next, to my cousin Kellen for encouraging me and teaching me how to braid. To my Father who got me an apprenticeship and showed me that I can capitalize on a hobby. To Miriam “Yama” for taking me under her wing and teaching these hands to be swift. And, to all my loved ones that continue to love, help and inspire me each day. And of course my wonderful amazing clients that have always been my support and encouragement.
Personal Photo & 5th photo – photography by @blackcoffeevisuals 1st photo – model @khollaa , photographer @snapsstudio 2nd photo -model @bbymo_ , photographer @shoplunab 3rd photo – model @daninirvana , photographer @toddcomplex 4th photo -model @rinnyriot , photographer @benbiondo