High demand for hair care services led two students to their side hustle

African-American students and faculty have limited sources in Manhattan for their specific hair type. Many African-Americans who live out of town have it styled before they come back to Manhattan. (Archive photo by Taylor Alderman | Collegian Media Group)

When it comes to hair, there are countless options for your look. But for African-American individuals in Manhattan, their options are limited when it comes to hair stylists.

Jourdyn Grant, junior in communication studies, and Essence Crain, fifth-year senior in apparel and textiles, are two students who provide the high-demand haircare services for students of color.

Although Crain spends many days developing the skills she needs for her future, she has spent many nights and weekends mastering skills for her current side hustle.

Crain caters to the women of color on campus who don’t have very many hair options in the Manhattan community. She provides many styles like sew-ins, crocheting and wigs.

Sew-ins are a form of weave for the hair that is sewn into the hair rather than glued onto the scalp. Crochet is a technique for braiding hair that involves crocheting synthetic hair extensions to a person’s natural hair with a latch hook or crochet hook. And then there are wigs, which are pretty self explanatory but are a very time-consuming option as well, depending on if she makes the wig or just installs it.

While the complexity of these services seem like you need years worth of experience, Crain has been running her own side hustle for a short while.

“I’ve been doing hair for four years,” Crain said. “I started when I came to Kansas State and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Something that assisted her growth in hair styling is being around her mother.

“My mom is a hairstylist and has been for over 21 years,” Crain said. “She inspired my love for making other people feel beautiful.”

With a customer base of only college students, those who go to her for their needs find it to be a very fun and creative experience.

“I go to her because I trust her and I like it when she gets creative,” Dee Tucker, fifth-year senior in social work, said. “I let her do what she wants.”

Tucker has allowed Crain to cut, dye and twist her hair in every style — last week’s hairstyle was red.

Crain’s side hustle is steady, even with her customer base consisting of students.

“Business is very steady, I don’t even have to work a regular job anymore,” Crain said. Her busiest times are the beginning of the year and the week before major holiday breaks.

“I normally get many girls the week before Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring break,” Crain said.

On the other side of campus is Jourdyn Grant. He has cut hair for two years as his side hustle. Starting out in his dorm, football players, fraternity guys and male students from all across campus made their way to Grant.

“I started doing it because I just enjoy it, plus my mom partially inspired me,” Grant said.

Many of his clients have come from references, while others scoped his social media page and saw his work. Grant has a pretty steady side hustle as he has clients every week.