Tribe Stories: Sumayyah Abdul

Elevation Tribe

How One Hairdresser Found a New Passion Through Travel

California native Sumayyah Abdul has been a hairdresser for more than 20 years. But she’s recently started to expand her horizons in haircare and beyond. Abdul has developed a passion for travel and photography, so much so that she hopes to add both to her professional offerings. Below, she outlines where she’s been as a hairdresser, and where she’s off to next:

She started doing hair at 18 years old.

“I started my natural hair care career at 18 working as an assistant. I’ve now been in this business for 21 years. I always loved doing hair since I was a little girl so it was something that came very easy for me. After being in the hair business for 5 years, I enrolled in cosmetology school, then moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in August 2010.”

She expanded her skill set when her clients were looking for something more.

“When I lived in Atlanta, majority of my clients had locs so I was very good at styling and caring for locs. But the demand in the Bay Area was twist and braid styles, so I had to market myself differently and hone the skills demanded of me. I used Facebook as a way to grow my business, along with help from natural hair meetups I attended that gave me exposure and more clientele.”

She worked from home.

“I worked in salons in Atlanta but after my move to the Bay Area, I kept my business very intimate by offering my services out of my home. I realized many women came to me for the intimate setting and appreciated that much more than being in a salon. I offer a variety of protective styling with a focus on variations of crochet braids and twist styles.”

She changed lanes when another passion developed.

“My current interests in photography, photo editing, and travel exceed my interests in hair at this point in my life, and I am working hard at changing careers. I will be 40 in October and have been feeling a need for change, so this is the direction I am focusing on at the moment.”

She is grateful for her ability to travel.

“I didn’t take my first trip abroad until I was 36. I ran into a lot of issues when I applied for my passport and it ended up being a 10-month ordeal, but I finally got it. I have always cherished my ability to travel abroad because the opportunity was almost taken from me. I would love for my budding photography work to make its way into an income stream in the near future, but I am taking my time in getting comfortable and enhancing my skills before I start.”

She’s mapping out the future

“I try to go on at least two or three international trips a year and a few domestic in between. My last trip in February was a special one–it was my first solo trip abroad, to Taipei, Taiwan.  I had a wonderful time exploring that beautiful country. My husband and I are currently discussing where our next trip will be. It’s between Portugal, Bali or Hawaii so far.”

She recognizes the bigger picture from her work.

“The inspiration for my content currently is a reflection of the inner work I have been doing and gives a positive message to anyone who needs it. I enjoy bright colors and nature so I try to show that in my content. Any role I can play in helping someone see life in a positive way is my goal, even if it’s just one person.”