Yasmin Young loved styling hair, and knew she wanted to pursue a career in cosmetology. A recent graduate of UMBC at the time, she also knew she wanted to attend The Aveda Institute Washington, DC. However, there was just one problem.
“I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it” recalled Young. “I had spent most of my student loans on my undergraduate degree. I didn’t want to finance another degree.”
Then, Young heard about the ’Catwalk for Water Fashion Show,” a scholarship competition that promotes water awareness by featuring looks that blend style and sustainability.
“I created an outfit out of Spanish moss dyed in my bathtub, recycled magazine pages that I folded, then sewed together to make a corset, Styrofoam plates, with the center removed, then wrapped in yarn, and so many more cool parts did I include on the outfit,” recalled Young. “Once I got to the school, I did my model’s hair and makeup, with the hair being inspired by West African hairstyling, and the makeup being in- spired by the same.”
Young won, becoming the first recipient of the inaugural scholarship. She said the $22,000 that came along with winning the competition in 2013 paid for her education, and helped jumpstart her successful natural haircare career.
Today, Young is the owner and operator of Diaspora Salon, a boutique hair salon located at 2412 N. Charles Street in Charles Village. The salon features a team of highly skilled hairdressers trained in the specific needs of naturally curly and coily hair types.
“Going back to the days of Egypt, for Black women, hair has always been our thing of beauty, and one of our best features,” said Young. “It is our crown.” Young said her shop’s name is ‘rooted’ in that history.
“Diaspora relates to the dispersing of our people from Africa,” said Young. “We have gone into the depths of the earth all over the world. Our salon represents the similar stories Black women have regarding their hair.
“We all have similar stories of sitting between the legs of our moms, grandmothers, aunts, and other women as they plaited our hair. Those stories have been handed down from generation to generation.”
Diaspora Salon is focused on the preservation and continuance of various Diasporic cultures and heritages outside of Africa through hairdressing.
“When I first started, there were about 250 people in our database,” said Young. “We now have about 4,500. Most of it is word of mouth. One of the things that makes me different from my competitors is my constant professionalism in terms of how I handle my clients. I am always on time and I communicate with my cus- tomers. As a business owner, you also have to be consistent with results and the experience.
“If you provide beverages at a client’s first appointment, you have to provide beverages at the second, and third ap- pointments. You have to be aware of your numbers. That means looking at your retention rates and follow-up appointments. That is how hairdressers make their income. I also come to work displaying the current hairstyle and clothing trends. You have to be professional, and look professional.”Young said she is constantly investing in education. “As a business owner, I have to invest in myself and my team. It’s an evolution that never ends as a business owner and service provider.”
Young is a native of Baltimore and grew up in Randallstown. She is a 2002 graduate of Randallstown High School, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts with a concentration in graphic de- sign from UMBC.
The 36-year-old said her interest in natural hair care was sparked after seeing R&B recording artist Jill Scott.
“I was in high school when I first heard about Jill Scott,” recalled Young. “I was 16 or 17 trying to find my niche and style and where I fit in the world. I was looking through Jill Scott’s album cover and also saw her in Essence Magazine and her style just clicked for me. I realized her hair was natural. I decided to go natural. She really inspired me.
“I got the opportunity to meet Jill Scott in Philadelphia. “She complimented me on my hair.”
The entrepreneur talked about her future plans. “My goal is to expand our salon in Baltimore and move into different areas,” said Young. “In the next two years, I would like to expand closer south to service clients in Virginia and Washington, DC. The sky’s the limit.”
Clients are taken at Diaspora Salon by appointment only. For more information, visit www.diasporasalon.com.