If you ever get the chance to meet Emmy-award winning hair stylist Hadiiya Barbel, you will walk away with much more than insider tips on how to find the perfect hairstyle for the perfect gown.
You will walk away with a renewed spirit, a sense of peace and a better understanding of how to achieve balance in your life.
“Everything starts with the spirit because you have to feel a certain way to move throughout your day. We go through life trying to find balance. We’re trying to stay alive. We’re trying to feel good,” says Barbel.
This mind and body connection is not only evident in her daily work as a stylist in a premier Manhattan hair salon. It is also expressed through her project, Crowns for the Cure, an annual opportunity for women who have experienced hair loss due to cancer. The women choose from a selection of high-quality “crowns,” which is Barbel’s word for what most people call wigs. Her idea was so innovative that The New York Times wrote an article about her event. It encouraged even more women to reach out to Barbel for her services. She says that many of her clients who suffer from cancer are depressed because they lose more than just hair. Sometimes, they lose their confidence.
“Patients with cancer are delicate clients. You don’t know what they may have to go through in their relationships,” she says.
Before adorning a new client with a crown, she talks with each of them in order to assess if they are ready for a change. She wants them to be open to the new beginning a new crown can bring. Barbel wants to make it clear that there’s a difference between a crown and a wig.
“When you use the word wig, it’s like you’re covering something up. A crown is personalized, custom to you. That’s why it’s a Crown Couture,” she says.
She explains that the word wig has been devalued only in recent times, but in history, hairpieces were considered adornments. She even cites examples, from the ancient Egyptians, to Diana Ross & the Supremes, to Cher.
“When you feel good about your crown, or whatever you put on top of your crown, all of a sudden, you feel like you can conquer the world,” says Barbel.
Hadiiya Barbel has conquered quite a few things in her professional career. In 2010, she won an Emmy as the hairstylist for the Wendy Williams Show. And she can include actress/model Iman, television personality Star Jones, rapper Eve, singers Ashanti and Mya and award-winning actress Angela Bassett in her list of clients. Also on that list are customers who routinely fly to New York from other states, namely Texas and California, just to have Barbel tweak their tresses. One of her local clients, a make-up artist who suffers from alopecia, shares that her self-confidence has greatly improved since meeting Barbel.
She also said, “I get more compliments on my hair now (while wearing a crown) than I did before with my natural hair.”
With all of this success in her professional career, she now plans to step back from the stylist’s role and redirect her energies into new areas. First on her agenda is finding a new space for her own salon (she’s looking for a realtor), where she plans to teach the Hadiiya Barbel method of crown creation to a team, so she can take on the role of visionary. Be assured that she and her staff won’t only work on a woman’s appearance, but will achieve what she coins as, “empowering the goddess within.” She’s witnessed, first-hand, when her a client’s energy improves immediately after being fitted with a custom crown–awakening her goddess within.
As if her professional endeavors aren’t enough to keep her busy, she is also a mother of three and she works to maintain consistency in her children’s lives. One constant is that they must see her everyday. She takes them to school as often as she can and uses the time to engage them in conversation. Another is that they eat healthy food. If offered a drink, her son will request 100% juice because that’s what his mother has taught him.
About her children, she says, “I need them too. I believe that children teach us by us teaching them. It’s like an exchange,” says Barbel.
She shares a vignette about her efforts to learn to drive. She never learned to drive, as many New Yorkers don’t, but her six-year-old daughter reminds her that she already knows how to drive because she can ride a bike. It’s an analogy that to an adult seems unrelated, but one that makes sense when considered from a child’s perspective.
Her basic philosophy is that children and adults are the same, but that adults have just had more time in the world. She says that as adults we learn to drown out our child’s voice by watching television or always having background noise from the radio. When the child wants to introduce an idea to us, we pass it off as foolish or impossible. In fact, we tell the child to be quiet, but if we would listen more to the child in each of us, we would have less fears and accomplish the seemingly impossible.
How does Hadiiya Barbel achieve balance?
“I’m always fighting for balance,” she says, “I remember the things that give me balance.”
The things that give her balance include maintaining a healthy, mostly raw diet, taking regular vacations and exercising. She especially enjoys destinations in the Caribbean and South America, places that possess the bluest waters; her exercise program includes yoga and weight training. Most of all, she works on controlling her reaction to things that present themselves in her life, rather than trying to control things outside of her control.
“The one place you can stay balanced is within you because the world is always moving,” she says,”We don’t have to suffer because all we have to do is choose not to suffer. You say, I choose not to suffer.“
Crushworthymoms.com chose Hadiiya Barbel to conclude its salute to National Breast Cancer Month because she is the type of mother who is fulfilled by pursuing her own passions. Yet, she gives her children the tools and love they need to be independent, thinking people. And thank goodness for us, she maintains some of her energy to help women: those who have yet to learn their passions, those who are surviving through cancer and those who already know their greatness.
“We’re queens and we have to see ourselves as that again. Our heads are our natural cown. That’s where we receive all of our thoughts. Everything that goes on in our head translates to our body.”
Based on where she is in her life, there must have been some powerful thoughts entering Hadiiya Barbel’s crown for a very long time.
Look for Hadiiya’s book in February 2013 tentatively titled, Hadiiya Barbel: The Evolution from the Wig to the Crown.
~Kim Green, CrushworthyMoms.com Contributor