We had the good fortune of connecting with Uriel Ben-Levi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Uriel, other than deciding to work for yourself, what else do you think played a pivotal role in your story?
I think the most important decision I made that contributed to my success was moving to Los Angeles. I started my career at my hometown in NYC and I reached a point where I felt stuck. I was making money but I wasn’t progressing. I decided that I needed to shake things up. Moving to LA forced me to grind harder because I didn’t have a safety net or the familiar feeling of being at home. I couldn’t fail, there was no plan B. Being outside of my comfort zone forced me to make moves that I didn’t think to make back home.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a Hairstylist. I’ve been braiding since the age of 11. I always knew I wanted to do hair but I was told by family that hairstyling wasn’t a career and I should go to college for computers because that was the future. So that’s what I did. I received my Associates Degree in Computer Information Systems Management and went on to work in the financial industry. (never using my degree) I hated it! I decided I wanted to go to Cosmetology school at night while I worked during the day but I had 2 children and would barely see them. The universe must have heard me and the bank I was working at was shut down and I was laid off. (Hallelujah) I was able to attend Cosmetology school while receiving unemployment. The beginning was hard and I thought about giving up and going back to the financial industry many times. Being a new stylist was hard because this industry can be so competitive and you’re often made to feel like you’re not good because you don’t catch on as fast or you’re not as talented as the next stylist, or you should be an Assistant for years. I learned fast that you have to have tough skin to survive. Once I learned not to let anyone get to me or dictate how I’m supposed to learn or what I should know, I took my career in my own hands and decided my success would be on my terms not what the industry says is should be.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of my favorite things to do in LA is go to the beach so we would got to Manhattan Beach to get some sun. We would go to Santa Monica Pier and get on the rides and listen to the bands play on the boardwalk. From there we would rent scooters and ride from Santa Monica to Venice Beach and buy some souvenirs from the vendors on the boardwalk. Later on we would go to Hollywood and hit up a few bars and walk up and down the Walk of Fame. The next day we would get up early and go to Runyon Canyon for a hike. We would eat from different food trucks and street vendors, go to some rooftop parties, drive up the Pacific Coast Highway and enjoy the views.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My daughters Jurnee and Toniyah deserve credit for my success because they are my main motivation. Everything I do, I do with them in mind. I have to be successful today to ensure they have bright futures tomorrow. They keep me focused. Knowing I have two young ladies watching me and following in my footsteps makes me work 10X harder. I want to show them that hard work pays off and being a self sufficient is more rewarding than having to rely on someone else.
Nathanael Filbert, photographer