As a senior credit analyst, Raven was on a successful career path at a major bank. But over the course of five years, the stress and strain of the position grew to the point where it took a heavy toll on her physical and mental health. Finally, one day things came to head when she became ill at work and she decided, “Okay, this is my time to go.”
She took a leap of faith to pursue what she had always felt was her true calling––making people feel beautiful. She finished a hair stylist program in record time, eager to work in a top salon. But things didn’t go as smoothly as she had planned.
“Well, life happens,” says Raven. “I didn’t get the best salon opportunities. I wound up going into five different salons but I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I was strong, I was independent, I was a free thinker, and I truly cared about people and what I was doing.”
It was during this time of ups and downs that Raven and her daughter began to experience some tough challenges. “We were homeless for the first time for about a year,” says Raven. “Then I was able to get another apartment. But then there was a murder in the duplex right next to us.”
“The murder really affected me because there had also been a murder due to a domestic dispute in the townhome complex where I previously lived. I didn’t really realize how much this all played a part in my mental health. I ended up sleeping on someone’s floor while my daughter stayed with one of her friends.”
But Raven kept working and over time she saved enough money to get a rental car through Lyft so she could drive for supplemental income. As her housing options narrowed, she had to live in her car. It was a challenge but she persevered. She says, “I slept in the salon that I worked at, I slept in my car, and I even got a gym membership so I could take showers there.”
Fortunately, things took a turn for the best when a connection at the Atlanta Housing Taskforce introduced Raven to CaringWorks. Through the RISE program, she was able to apply for a Section 8 voucher and get her own place. “Since the beginning, CaringWorks has come to check on me. They make sure they do their visits all the time, make sure I am going to my therapy appointments. When COVID first hit, they even gave us gift cards for groceries.”
Now, with a stable home and support from CaringWorks, Raven is thriving. She’s even created her own hair care line, RS Hair Care, centered around a miracle conditioner that has helped some of her clients, and even her daughter, regrow their hair and enjoy longer, fuller locks.
And she’s not stopping there: “When I got my tax return back this year, I used it to take trichology classes, which is the study of how hair grows, and that allows me to use low-grade lasers. There’s a certification class so I’m trying to get prepared for that so I can take that test.”
The benefits of getting her own place are deeper than most people realize. Raven explains, “When CaringWorks came along and I got my apartment, that allowed me to be able to breathe, think clearly,” says Raven. “The first 30 days, every time I got off work I would come home and lay in the tub. I’d just soak and be grateful for the fact that there’s an organization that actually helps. And I was able to do this peacefully without being like, ‘ I got to hurry up and do this, and that.’ I was able to take my time and be able to think. And to just be able to think is a gift because my mind was going all the time. And now I can have one thought, another thought and they can just flow the way they’re supposed to flow, instead of all of them coming at one time.”
And with the stability comes the opportunity for growth. “With the stresses that I had being homeless, I couldn’t focus on my product to even expand it,” she says. “And I wasn’t selling it the way I needed to because I was more focused on where am I going to lay my head? take a shower? sleep in my car tonight? Now I can focus on making my business grow and on promoting my clientele as well as my product line and whatever else I may want to do.”
“I think the fact that I’m stable has allowed me to gain my self-confidence and love for myself back.” And that is a beautiful thing.
For more info and to purchase Raven’s hair care products, visit @RShaircare21.