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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.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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