Nikki Nelms has styled the hair of some of our biggest fashion and pop culture icons, including Beyonce, Zoe Kravitz, Janelle Monae and Solange (whom she styled for her 2014 wedding). With an A-list clientele, we chatted with the highly sought after stylist about how honing a skill can turn into a dream career with an out-of-this-world roster.
ESSENCE: You started out as an undergrad student at Florida State University and then left to follow your passion. Would you change going to a four-year university?
Nikki: Nope. I wouldn’t change a thing in my past. Everything that has happened has been necessary. Those first few years of undergrad, I learned the most about myself and I was able to figure out that it was ok to have a different style and taste in fashion.
ESSENCE: What are some tips you have for women who want to follow their passion and go into business for themselves?
Nikki: My advice to women? Don’t seek advice from any and everybody all the time. It could become addicting; the more you do that, the more you can potentially weaken your own inner voice and instincts. You need those things to always be as strong as possible.
ESSENCE: What is the best part of your job? What is the worst part of being an entrepreneur?
Nikki: The best part of my job is the traveling all over the world. The worst part about being an entrepreneur is never being able to plan a vacation in advance. I can never plan anything comfortably with anyone, in fear of missing a life-changing opportunity.
ESSENCE: Who are five women you look up to?
Nikki: My grandma, my mother, Pat McGrath, Queen Latifah, Tina Knowles and Latanya Jackson.
ESSENCE: Why do you exemplify Black girl brilliance?
Nikki: During the campaigns and cover shoots that I’ve worked on, a lot of times the only person that really wanted me to be there, other than me, is a client that fought for me to be there. In situations like that, I have no other choice but to exemplify Black girl brilliance. Even though some of my opportunities don’t always come with welcoming, open arms, I am still able to change opinions when I get there through my creativity and execution. I can take their Black girl doubt and turn it into Black girl praise —one photo shoot at a time.
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