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  • Ethiopian born Eden has created her own braiding business after struggling with her own hair as a young girl. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
After Eden Dessalegn struggled to manage her own natural curls as a child, she taught herself the craft of braiding, now she owns her own braiding salon in Condell Park, located in Sydney's south-west.
By
LIN EVLIN, Presented by
LIN EVLIN

Source:
SBS Small Business Secrets
6 Sep 2018 - 4:51 PM  UPDATED 11 Sep 2018 - 8:59 AM

For Eden Dessalegn, braiding her hair was not just a fashion choice.

Eden is of Ethiopian descent, and her natural tiny knotted curls meant upkeep and hair damage was a daily battle.  

“I have afro hair, braiding was something I just needed to do for myself as it’s a protective style,” explains Eden.

“Braids can help to save time and the fact that it’s a unique way to express your culture and personality is an added bonus.”

By the time Eden was in high school, she had made a name for herself as a talented hair braider with the ability to do cornrows and box braids.

“I did a lot of braiding and practicing on people in my school and the more I got better, the more I thought I could turn this into a small business.

“I started charging people at school - it was only $5.00 in the library," she says with a laugh.

"It was something small and I saw that it made people happy.”

"It was something small and I saw that it made people happy.”

Despite her keen interest and talent in braiding from a young age, Eden decided to pursue the more conventional path of a corporate career for job security and stability after high school, working for 8 years in health and logistics.

But her work and life took an unexpected turn when she was made redundant at age 26.

“The defining moment was when I was offered a redundancy at my job and I was so scared because I’ve been working since 14 years old.

“I’ve never not had a job so to think that I was being let go and I didn’t have anywhere else."

At a crossroads, Eden, with the support of her mother, began opening braiding market stalls at the Bondi Markets, Glebe Markets and each year at the Royal Easter Show which attracted constant queues.

Those successes gave Eden the confidence she needed to open a permanent shop for her business. 

Since her shop opened in Condell Park in Sydney's south-west in October 2016, her client list has risen steadily and she now services an average of 70 customers a week.

And as braiding continues to become more mainstream, Eden says her customer base is also increasingly ethnically diverse.  

“I think braiding has become a lot more mainstream because of the celebrity influences.”

“It’s really nice because it’s bringing out the African culture.

"For me, it’s about cultural appreciation rather than appropriation that’s why I can welcome everyone to experience this.”

"For me, it’s about cultural appreciation rather than appropriation that’s why I can welcome everyone to experience this.”

Eden also hopes to use hair braiding to hopefully inspire and empower people from all walks of life that she meets at her salon.

“You don’t need to have a huge pile of money if you’re passionate about something and you’ve got that drive and determination I think anything is possible.

"If you’re passionate about something and you’ve got that drive and determination I think anything is possible".

"I’m really passionate about helping people, this is my vehicle for doing that, more than braiding, I actually really love talking to people, if I can help them even a little bit, that makes me so happy.”

Watch the full episode.