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How The Cut Life’s Tahira Wright Turned Her Online Presence Into A Thriving Business

BOSS UP

There's nothing wrong with having 21 inches of glory flowing in the wind, but, as Coco Chanel is infamously quoted as saying, "A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life."


Stars from Halle Berry to Toni Braxton to Kelis, have changed their lives---and the beauty game---with short manes that made them stand out from the crowd of long diva-weaves of their day. And we all know what a big chop signifies for some women seeking to embrace their natural curls and tap into their own versions of transitions into self-love.

The need for change and expression through a unique creative outlet was no different for Tahira Wright, who founded The Cut Life, celebrating short hair when long weaves and lace fronts seemed to dominate the social media beauty scene. She was then able to turn an online visual playground of buzz cuts, tapered bobs, curly pixies and mohawks into a fab tribe of its own and a full-fledged business.

"The idea for The Cut Life was birthed in 2013 based on my personal love of having short hair and seeing little to no sources of inspiration online," Tahira told xoNecole in an exclusive interview. "At the time, I was a publicist in the music and entertainment industry in search of my next entrepreneurial endeavor. The Cut Life was honestly [something] that quickly turned into a business, and here we are five years later!"

Since launching on social, amassing 1.3 million followers on IG alone, Tahira and The Cut Life have expanded into a multimedia powerhouse, partnering with Creme of Nature, Dark & Lovely, Carol's Daughter, Design Essentials, Procter & Gamble's My Black Is Beautiful, and more for lucrative campaigns. There's also a podcast where they talk to experts and professionals on industry trends, hair care, career advancement, and style inspiration. They've hosted curated events for tribes of women who love a good short cut, and they continue to expand their video content and following via YouTube, featuring candid chats with celebrities including Nicole Murphy and how-tos with seasoned stylists.

"We're continuing to create quality content and increase opportunities for new revenue streams through our podcast, events, and webinars," Tahira said. "Short hair is trending a lot lately with celebrities that I almost can't keep count. A few of my recent favorites are Teyana Taylor's pixie, Sanaa Lathan's big chop, Niki Murphy is one of the baddest, Lupita's natural tresses, and I still stan for Kelis, Monica, and Jada Pinkett Smith! There's so many!"

Wright has had her own personal hair journey with styles that have been partners in the transitions of her own life. "One of my most memorable experiences was getting blonde highlights in college that completely destroyed my hair. I was used to wearing my hair long but there was no doubt I would have to cut it," she recalled. "My first short haircut was the Halle Berry flip gone wrong, and I hated it. I grew my hair back long and wore it that way for a while until the emergence of Rihanna's 'Good Girl Gone Bad' era. Ursula Stephen, who I adore and who has been featured on our podcast, transformed Rihanna's image with a cut, and it inspired me to cut my hair again. I found a haircut that I absolutely loved and never looked back."

For Wright, short hair represents making a powerful statement with a style that is both versatile and diverse. "The right cut gave me this boost of confidence and sexiness I hadn't experienced before," she added. "To this day, my hair is often a head-turner and a topic of conversation because short hair is still considered going against the norm."

Tahira has a point. Many of us still face a huge level of scrutiny and awe when it comes to making any sorts of changes to our hair, whether it's wearing your natural curls a la Michelle Obama on vacay, shaving it all off in a chic baldie a la Tamar Braxton, or even cutting the style of which many have defined you, like Nia the Light. Some even shun hair transitions---particularly cuts---citing the usual "crowning glory" adages.

Tahira says there's confidence, individuality, and freedom that comes with rocking a short 'do. "Women, especially black women, love changing their hair often and our site offers a variety of quality content to serve many lifestyles. Many women are on the fence about cutting their hair but we're here to serve as a positive inspiration for people to try something new."

With The Cut Life, Tahira and her team are also showing themselves to be major disruptors, showcasing a community of master cutters and hairstylists and offering a new outlet for up-and-comers and experts alike. She urges other young women who seek to shake up the beauty industry and those who want to monetize their digital platforms to do their research and continue honing their crafts.

"Being of service is the best way to learn the ins and outs of any industry to determine which area is the best fit," Tahira recommended. "Research the current trends in the market and identify a void that needs to be filled. There's no overnight success. Entrepreneurship isn't for the weak and takes a daily commitment to the grind, lessons learned from failures, financial downfalls, and setbacks before you reach a level of success. Lastly, find the joy in the journey. We're always so consumed about the next level that we don't celebrate the daily wins. Taking one step towards your goals each day is still a move forward."

"Entrepreneurship isn't for the weak and takes a daily commitment to the grind, lessons learned from failures, financial downfalls, and setbacks before you reach a level of success."

With so many opportunities coming her way, Tahira says taking the time to determine a good fit, having a great team, and being smart with the coin goes a long way to helping sustain success.

"I've learned that the best collaborations come from working with people who are experts in areas where you fall short. Maya Table is our creative director and is completely skilled in her lane, which helps us to not bump heads and effectively grow the business," Tahira said. "[Also, you have to] be financially responsible. Learn how to make money, save money, and spend money wisely. This is an ongoing process for me, but I've become much more intentional about being financially sound and having attainable financial goals."

Also, focusing on passion and embracing your unique style doesn't hurt either. Tahira has been able to fill a void and cater to a niche audience simply by tapping into her true self and promoting something dear to her heart. "I love the fact that my short hair makes me stand out in a crowd. I'm constantly switching it up and it makes me less worried about what's considered the 'beauty standard' and more focused on what I like and what makes me feel like my best self. Confidence starts from within and how you love and take care of yourself first."

"Confidence starts from within and how you love and take care of yourself first."

"Eating healthy, working out, getting my hair and nails done, wearing what looks good on me, and not focusing too much on trends is what's best for me and my overall self-esteem. We all have our insecurities, but I stay prayed up and confident in knowing what God has for me is for me. I'm divinely and uniquely made. There's only one Tahira, no carbon copies."

To keep up with Tahira, follow her on Instagram. And be sure to also check out her fab brand The Cut Life.

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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