The influence Black hairstylists, barbers, makeup artists, and nail technicians have on culture is undeniable. They are innovators, constantly shaping the trends we see celebrities wear on red carpets, models sport on runways, and looks our family and friends make their own in real life. And the many ways in which Black beauty professionals contribute to society as business leaders is invaluable.

This Black History Month, StyleSeat is spotlighting some of our Black entrepreneurs whose artistry has leveled up their careers and made an impact within — and beyond — their communities. Read their stories below, including what motivates them to get out of bed in the morning, advice for pros on how to grow their business, and the legacy they hope to leave behind.

Erinn Courtney, Hairstylist

Natural hair guru Erinn Courtney turned her love of braiding into a profitable business. Photos: Courtesy of Erinn Courtney

Erinn Courtney started braiding at a young age — 9 years old to be exact. She went on to hone her craft and become a licensed cosmetologist with over two decades of experience. The Los Angeles-based stylist has perfected natural hairstyles such as cornrows, knotless braids, and faux locs. She is also an expert in weaves. Courtney’s versatility, work ethic, and dope personality is probably why celebrities like Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, Future, Offset, Swae Lee, and Eva Marcille trust her with their tresses, and the reason she’s earned a 5-star rating on StyleSeat.

What inspired you to become a hairstylist?

I’ve always been good with my hands. I like crafting and making things and once I figured out that I was good at braiding, I was just really inspired to take it to the next level.

What makes you feel and look your best?

When I am feeling confident, especially with my hair. When I do something that I feel really compliments the way that I look as a person and who I am as a person, I can walk around like nothing is above me.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

My commitment to people because if I don’t have a commitment to anybody that day, I am more than likely going to stay in bed.

How important was the Black community to you in 2020? And how do you hope to continue to pour back into your village?

I feel like during the pandemic it was the most transformative time for the Black collective because that was the moment where the entire world felt what we had been feeling forever. Whether that be the civil unrest or the financial devastation that people normally don’t experience, but Black people know this. We’ve gone through this. We experience this. So for us to be able to watch the world feel what we always feel was powerful. It made me feel less alone as a human. We were the strongest. We knew how to get through this.

I am currently working on a program for non-Black adoptive parents of Black children to learn how to care for them, mainly their hair and skin. Creating classes and more so their kids can learn who they are and be confident in who they are as people.

How has StyleSeat helped you to grow your business?

StyleSeat was so beneficial to me because when I moved to LA almost nine years ago, I was dead set on working at a salon and under people to work my way up. Then around 2017, I decided I wanted to venture out on my own and it was just me by myself. I didn’t have anyone for my front desk. I didn’t have an assistant. I couldn’t afford those things because I was just starting out. Getting on StyleSeat and paying a $35 monthly fee to have them manage my clientele was really helpful for me to have [clients] book what they needed and come see me so I can just do the work and not stress myself out.

What are your favorite StyleSeat features and why?

Filling empty spots on my schedule and bringing me new clients. I don’t even know how you guys do it, but it’s beautiful. People who I’ve never come in contact with will just book my empty spot. It helps keep my business going and I love that.

How does StyleSeat help you to connect with new clients and keep them?

People are usually very, very appreciative that StyleSeat did reach out to them to show them my work. It’s up to me to retain the client but that’s not hard when StyleSeat helps them find me.

What advice would you give to pros embarking on their business journey?

The things that are best for you always seem the most scary at first, so you just gotta jump.

What do you want your legacy to be?

A lot of what disconnects us as people is miscommunication and fear, and I’m huge on tackling those things. I want to be able to really bring things to light so that people can connect.

To learn more about Erinn Courtney, check out her profile on StyleSeat and follow her on Instagram.


Takeila Peebles, Nail Artist

Takeila Peebles believes that every customer’s manicures deserves a personal touch. Photos: Courtesy of Takeila Peebles

When clients sit down in Takeila Peeble’s chair at her Rock Da Nails salon in Las Vegas, NV, they can expect her to do just that: rock da nails! She boasts 25 years of experience as a licensed nail technician in Nevada and her home state of Illinois, and is among the top nail artists you can book on StyleSeat. Peebles puts her personal touch on everything she creates, whether she’s decking out Paris Hilton’s manicure with rhinestones or doing a Rockstar nail set for her local clients.

What inspired you to become a nail artist?

When I was younger, my mother hated polish. I would go to my grandmother’s house and they would paint my nails on the weekends and I would have to take it off before leaving on Sunday. I told her, “I’m going to do nails when I get older. Just watch!” I don’t know why I had a fascination with it, but I always thought it was a beautiful thing.

What makes you feel and look your best?

When my hair is flowing, I have the hottest nails popping, and my feet are done.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

My motivation is my children. I have a 12-year-old and a 25-year-old. I also bought a house last year — something I thought I could never do and I achieved a goal.

How important was the Black community to you in 2020? And how do you hope to continue to pour back into your village?

I’m actually mixed, and it made me really hurt for what happened and the deaths. There were a lot of people who lost jobs in 2020, especially out here. It made me look at other people, and think be blessed and bless someone else. [I’ve done that] by providing gift certificates and mentorship to young ladies interested in nail artistry, so that when they turn 18 and can get their license, they’ll understand the foundation of nail care.

How has StyleSeat helped you to grow your business?

I’m at 4.9 stars and I’m always at the top when people search for a nail artist in Nevada. They get to look at my reviews and pictures. My business continues to grow with the amazing client reviews that allow my profile to sit at the top.

What is your favorite StyleSeat feature and why?

I like the revenue [reporting] part. A lot of apps don’t do that and that’s why I won’t leave. That and my reviews! I tell people all the time you need to get it because when it’s time to do your taxes, you won’t have to worry about if you’re doing them right. You can import your 1099 and it lets you see what you’ve done the entire year. It really breaks it down!

How does StyleSeat help you to connect with new clients and keep them?

Everyone that StyleSeat has sent me, or they’ve found me on StyleSeat from years ago, I still do their nails. They love my personality and getting rocked out! I had a woman message me to say she’s coming from the Bay Area. She’s been following me for the longest time and wants to get in my chair. [StyleSeat] advertises me and you just don’t have an idea how much people are looking.

You’re not just a nail artist, you’re a counselor, and people love you. I always try to give people their own time to avoid overbooking because you never know what people want to share with you.

What advice would you give to pros embarking on their business journey?

When it slows down, never give up. Figure out a way within the business to still make revenue because a lot of people go get a job thinking this is not working. Ask yourself what you can do differently to get more people in your chair.

I would have never imagined that I would be doing Paris Hilton’s nails; her manager found me on social media. When she comes to Vegas, she books me and promotes me on her social media. Artwork is amazing, but make sure you’ve got your foundation down. Study your craft. Do your [continuing education] classes. Every day the field evolves, so you have to keep up with the trends.

What do you want your legacy to be?

I want to leave my children with a brand that will have them set for life with my grandchildren, whether that’s with my custom press-ons or opening schools for nail artistry. I want my legacy to be one of the greatest nail teachers from coast to coast, to show young ladies and gents that we are just not nail technicians, you are gifted; make people know you can have everything a person with a 9-to-5 working can have if you focus on your craft and the gift in your hands.

To learn more about Takeila Peebles, check out her profile on StyleSeat and follow her on Instagram.


Justin Harper, Barber

Justin Harper is 19 years old and on his way to becoming one of the best barbers in the industry. Photos: Courtesy of Justin Harper

Justin Harper is the youngest pro featured on our list, however, he possesses just as much ambition for growing his business as the veterans. The Alabama-based barber has a perfect rating on StyleSeat and has established a loyal client base thanks to his “Justomized” treatment, which includes a shampoo and hot towel, fade haircut, and semipermanent enhancements on beard and along line up. Talk about quality service!

What inspired you to become a barber?

I started cutting hair at 17 and I was a junior in high school. I basically started for a better living. I always had a passion for art and liked to draw. So I felt like barbering was my art. I started off with a basic pair of Walmart trimmers and I practiced on my brother, cutting in my grandparent’s laundry room. I was blessed enough to work my way into a shop and was able to watch how barbers treated their tools and clients. I took the good and the bad and created something for myself.

What makes you feel and look your best?

I try to bring light to the people that sit in my [barber’s] chair and the people that I come across. When I do so, it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished my job.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

Knowing that time is everything and that it can’t be wasted.

How important was the Black community to you in 2020? And how do you hope to continue to pour back into your village?

During quarantine, I really took some time to learn about our heritage and how to spread awareness to the younger and older people in our community. We can all say that Black Lives Matter, but until we act on it, it’s pointless. I plan to act on it through how I express my work and by giving back.

How has StyleSeat helped you to grow your business?

I transferred from The Cut app earlier this year, and [StyleSeat] has done everything I expected as far as helping to grow my business.

What is your favorite StyleSeat feature and why?

I most enjoy the late cancellation and no-show fees because time is money. StyleSeat definitely lets your clients know! And it gives you the option to choose between a light, moderate, or strong fee.

How does StyleSeat help you to connect with new clients and keep them?

Lately, I’ve had clients come in and say, “I’ve found you through StyleSeat!” All I could do is thank StyleSeat because the people behind the app are working magic for me.

What advice would you give to pros embarking on their business journey?

[You’ve got to have] consistency, faith, and passion. If you don’t have these three things, you’ll run out of adrenaline.

What do you want your legacy to be?

I really don’t want the fame. I want my great-great-grandkids to know my name. I want to leave a legacy for my family that involves the freedom to wake up and do what you want to do, when you want to do it.

To learn more about Justin Harper, check out his profile on StyleSeat and follow him on Instagram.

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