Owning your own business during your teenage years along with your studies is a rarity.
For 19-year-old Shelena Artman, running her own business has been a big part of her youth, after she launched her hair braiding business, Hair Shekinah, about four years ago.
A self-taught braider, Shelena was inspired to learn the art of hair braiding during a family trip to Dominica in 2012, the birthplace of her grandparents. She said: “I remember my younger cousins in Dominica were very talented at braiding hair while I couldn’t even master a simple braid.
Better Business is an initiative launched by Bristol24/7 to help businesses prosper, while creating a positive impact on Bristol and the people who live here.
*prices do not include VAT
“I was determined to learn and get to his level. This gave me a sense of belonging by being similar to my cousins ’back home.’”
Shelena, who lives in Kingswood, now calls herself a “perfectionist” when it comes to braiding hair and has come a long way since her trip to Dominica.
Hair Shekinah operates from Stokes Croft in rented space within the hair salon, Mirahbell Studio on Backfields Lane.
As part of running her business, the Bristol School of Acting student does everything from scheduling appointments, managing her finances, creating new content for her Instagram followers, and cleaning the salon.
But above all, Shelena said that the most important thing for her is to be a “kind and welcoming person” so that her clients have a “comfortable and relaxing experience”.
The teenager was crowned a Business Hero at the Young Bristol Heroes Awards in 2021 after being nominated by a teacher at St Brendan’s Sixth Form College for her efforts in organizing a campaign to support people affected by a volcanic eruption in St Vincent.
Speaking of her experience of being recognized at the Young Bristol Heroes Awards, she said: “The mentoring programs and life skills lessons that came from the awards were 100 percent transferable to my business.
“For example, the steps on how to organize your time efficiently and invest in your future are just a few of the gems I got.”
Shelena, who prides herself on being involved in her local church community by helping to organize youth nights and outreach events, said her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to “just go ahead.” She added: “Believing in your craft is a must.
“Reach out to businesses, organizations, and individuals to help and support you on your journey. Seek advice and mentoring. There are so many great organizations in Bristol like Babbsasa.
“And most importantly, set aside quality time for your business, but also for yourself.”
The teenager dreams of one day having her own salon offering natural hair care treatments. She said: “Having a space and a platform where people can feel free to embrace their natural hair is something I look forward to.
“Breaking the cycle and the stereotype of people having negative experiences when they go to an Afro-Caribbean salon is what I hope my business will achieve.”
To see more of Shelena’s art, visit her Hair Shekinah Instagram page.
Feature photo: Strike Communications – Shelena Artman (pictured right), with Great British Bake Off’s Briony May Williams.
Listen to the latest Bristol24/7 Behind the Headlines podcast: