Meet the kid

in charge.

Growing up, I wanted to be a lot of things. From one of the Temptations, to a fashion designer, to a pediatrician, and it really just depended on what was making me happy at the moment.

It’s as if I intuitively knew that I didn’t have to pick one thing to do, be, try, or explore—I wanted to experience all of it.

I’ve always been an artist, a character, a talker, a dancer, a researcher, a dreamer, a writer, a deep-belly laugher, mover, shaker, and a lover of a good time, but in a society that prizes sameness and fears individuality, I quickly learned that my larger than life personality, insatiable curiosity, and natural dynamism didn’t fit into any of the boxes I was given.

Because I was a naturally gifted academic and creative force in school, I was always being asked:

“what do you want to be when you grow up?”

I always hated the question, because I didn’t even understand what the adults were asking.

“What do I want to be?”

This. me. I’m doing it. I’m being it.

Instead, even with all of my quirks and eccentricities, I learned to shape shift into a smaller, weaker, more chameleon-like version of myself to meet the expectations of the people around me.

In true gemini stellium fashion, I decided to come up with an elaborate blurb to respond with anytime someone asked me what I wanted to be.

I figured I’d outsmart them and keep myself safe from their fear if I said: “I want to double major in French and International Studies, minor in Spanish, go to interpreter school, then work for the United Nations.”

Is that what I actually wanted? Of course not.

And while it might’ve been eloquent enough to make people smile with approval and leave me alone, I eventually fell into the trap almost everyone does.

I started thinking about what I would be and do as if it were a separate part of me that I’d find somewhere out in the world, anywhere but within.

For years, trauma and fear buried bits and pieces of me until I didn’t recognize myself and lost connection to my innermost parts and feelings.

Grief, anxiety, and all the unprocessed emotions accumulated inside of me, weighing me down, all throughout high school and college, until I couldn’t take it anymore.

I eventually moved to Chicago in 2017 as a 21-year old newlywed in search of community and belonging (and to escape the chaos of my life). That’s when I found what would be  “my thing” for the next few years—curls.

Say hey to haircousin.

I had my first appointment with a Curl Artist in March of 2018 and I was absolutely fascinated that there was this entire world and community around “tight curls” that I’d never heard of.

Well, that was all she wrote.

I decided to enroll in cosmetology school and in the meantime and in-between time, I modeled for Black Girl Curls, acted as CurlMix’s resident stylist for their Wash+Go Wednesday weekly broadcast, traveled with Cut it Kinky, worked in the salon as an assistant, and did some part-time nannying—all while being married and establishing my own business.

Eventually, I graduated from cosmetology school in October of 2020 and began working with clients as an independent stylist.

Naturally, I got caught up in the hustle and grind until I was working 8-10 hour days, 5-6 days a week. I was more exhausted than I even realized and started experiencing panic attacks when I’d come home from the salon.

In all of my boss babe-ing, I hadn’t taken the time to get to know myself, clarify my values, and decide what really mattered most to me in my life.

And because I was on the hamster wheel, my overworking and under-living resulted in me being exhausted, unhappy, and dissatisfied with the work I was doing, so I retired and went on hiatus.

And then there’s now.

Since retiring from the salon at the end of August 2022, I’ve moved back home to Detroit and have been sleeping, napping, healing, and learning to be well.

I’ve been taking my time to learn what does and doesn’t feel good in everything: my relationships, my work, my care, and my regular, everyday living.

I’ve also been working with 1:1 clients for business strategy and doing dry cuts behind-the-scenes to get a feel for how I want those aspects of my work to look going forward.

After all of my searching to be and do something extraordinary, I’ve learned there’s nothing for me to do or be except myself.

I’m the extraordinary thing.

Now, I’m creating the space I’ve always wanted to belong to and doing the work that feels most natural, easy, aligned, and fun inside of my newest experiment: The Fifth House Club.

I intend for it to be a space for creative community to gather and connect around our interests, passions, and play—whether that’s curls, business, food, anime, art, film, language, or something new altogether.

The club is in its very early stages, but I’m finding my rhythm and flow and it’s already taking me on an adventure. If you’re down for the ride, you’re welcome to join me.

– Andra