Empowerment Through Creativity
By LIsa Bakewell
This article appears in 2021 | Volume 2, Issue 1 of AHP Indie Stylist magazine
Meet Shanna Anise, creative hairstylist, entrepreneur, and fierce mama whose motto, “Stay Out the Damn Box,” is a lifestyle choice that represents her refusal to be confined to society’s norm.
Here, Anise shares insights about her work, her family, her business goals, and why—after 20 years—she still falls in love with her career choice.
I LOVE YOUR MOTTO “STAY OUT THE DAMN BOX!” WHAT INSPIRED IT, AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
“Stay out the Damn Box” is a lifestyle choice of taking risks, stepping out of your comfort zone to achieve growth and not being confined to the normalcy of society. Mainstream industry beauty standards are not equal; Black women are not mainstream. A small percentage are shown in a certain light, but television and film productions do not have a large group of hair specialists who have a passion (or knowledge) of natural hair care along with styling for all types of textures of hair. Staying out the damn box also means creating my own lane to make an impact on this industry positively through hair artistry.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN YOUR CAREER?
I have been grounded in the arts since the age of 6, when I was introduced to dance. I grew up with technique-based classical training, which gave me my roots. The art of dance later allowed me a deeper love and respect for theater, costume, makeup, and even hair creativity. By age 9, I realized I was interested in doing hair and started creating hair designs on my doll and then styling my own hair. I realized I had a unique talent for creative hairstyling and became intrigued with seeing what I could do with other people’s hair. I attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts High School in Washington, D.C., where I began to get the attention of instructors in dance and theater—who realized I could do more than groom a sleek bun for a dance performance—so I involved myself in every position in the arts, from being in front of the camera to behind the scenes where the magic happens. By 2007, I graduated from Howard University as a single mother of a 1-year-old daughter, Xihir, and decided to move to Atlanta, Georgia, to pursue a career in production. In Atlanta, my interests turned to becoming a model, a hairstylist (as a hobby), and working as a casting assistant, so I put myself in the environment of artists, directors, photographers, hairstylists, makeup artists, models, and actors to build up my next stage of artistry. Working behind the scenes in television, film, and print developed my drive and passion for how a final product ends up, and I used dance, theater, and production as my creative outlets to grow and express myself as an individual.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I am inspired by life in general. Past experiences inspire me. My inner child’s accomplishments help me handle challenges and inspire me to go hard every day. Another inspiration is my family “love tribe,” which includes my husband, Don (Dax Tailor) Thomasson, and eight children (four girls and four boys). They create the foundation of my “why and how” as I maneuver in this hair industry. I feel that every stepping-stone and learning experience played a major role in my character and integrity as a creative person, and my humility helps me stay grounded in understanding and realizing I could not have gotten here alone. Teamwork is a major force that pushes each successful person in this world.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR CAREER HIGHLIGHTS?
The highlighted moments in my journey include meeting creative people in photography and beauty when I first moved to Atlanta. John Stephens (a photographer), Latoya Mills (a wardrobe stylist), and Keya DeLarge (a makeup artist) were my first real team family who helped me delve deeper into creative hairstyling professionally. When I met my husband a few years later, he believed in my gift as a hair artist and gave me the extra boost in confidence to go forth with my company, Red Mystique Art (RMA), full time. Without those two major marks in my journey, I would not have achieved the growth I have today—not only as an artist but as a person.
WHAT OBSTACLES HAVE YOU OVERCOME TO BECOME SUCCESSFUL?
My level of success is not determined by society’s standards but by those who are directly affected by what I put my energy into (mentally, spiritually, and physically), as well as how I build generational wealth for my family. The one obstacle that will forever stand out as a life changer, not only for me but also for my husband, is when our son Dax Tailor passed away at seven weeks young in 2014. Losing him to this earth was sudden and indescribable. I wouldn’t wish this feeling or experience on anyone. Our entire existence changed at that point, and the challenge every day was in getting the strength to move forward with the stamp of pain in our hearts that will never go away. My family is the top priority to me, and my love for artistry is a branch of that life.
AHP Indie Stylist magazine is a bimonthly publication, created to speak directly to you, the independent hair stylist and barber. In this issue:
• Bold Block Color: So cool. So edgy. So right now
• Luxe Highlights: Try this gray coverage upgrade to take clients from dark and inky to natural and sunkissed
• Gunmetal 'n' Roses: The perfect heavy-metal gray formula