Tyra Clemons, YES Prep Southside graduate and founder of Styles by Tyra.

Like many young people this day and age, developing a lucrative career, embracing alternative paths for learning and creating a meaningful work-life balance are key priorities when considering education and entering the workforce.

For Tyra Clemons, those were some of her goals when she considered turning her passion for hair braiding into a lucrative business. The YES Prep Southside High School graduate is celebrating her two-year anniversary of launching her business called Styles by Tyra.

Clemons credits much of her business acumen and confidence to YES Prep Southside’s cosmetology class and After School Center on Education, a grant funded program that serves low-income, and at-risk students by providing out-of-school learning programs such as cooking, robotics, TV broadcasting and sports.

The Defender spoke with Clemons about her experience and her goals for when she starts as a freshman at Prairie View A&M University in the fall.

Defender: How did you know that hair was your passion?

Clemons: It was a hobby at first. I would do hairstyles for my friends and I really enjoyed making people feel pretty and confident. I started playing around with braiding around 2019.

Defender: What was the next step for you?

Clemons: I used to do my own hair also. People would ask me “Who does my hair?” At that point I said I needed to start a business so that was the next step for me. I started everything from inside my house. 

Defender: Why is entrepreneurship important to you?

Clemons: I want to build a name a brand for myself. I want something that I can pass down to my future kids and other generations after that. Creating a business builds character. Building something from scratch, learning to be open minded in my knowledge, stepping out of my comfort zone as a shy person that I am, and expanding my skills as a stylist is important to me. My mom just got a divorce maybe three years before I started taking interest in braiding. I needed to help out more in the family. I needed to get a job. I started to noticed some financial issues in the household.

Defender: What did your family think about your goal to pursue a business?

Clemons: When I first started, my mom didn’t notice how serious it was getting until she saw how many people were coming through to get their hair done. I told her I started a hair business page. I told her that I wanted to contribute at home because we need addition money in the household. So the kitchen and dining room area are my spaces to work and she’s been so supportive. It’s been going well so far.

Defender: What are some important things you learned through the YES Prep After School program?

Clemons: Communication was one of the biggest things for me. I’m very shy. I learned how to become a leader and I also learned how to interact with people who could be potential customers. It’s all about building relationships.

Defender: What types of styles do you provide with your service?

Clemons: I provide knotless braids, soft locs, cornrows, stitch braids, box braids and faux locs. I’ll be adding new styles this summer.  Prices range from $60 to $280 depending on the style, length and time it takes to do the hair.

Defender: You’ll be an incoming freshman at Prairie View A&M. What are you looking forward to?

Clemons: I’m excited but nervous at the same time because it’s not going to only be me doing hair on campus. I’m going to be a business major so I want to take my business to the next level. I want to learn how to manage a business correctly, understand the market, my customer’s needs and proper branding strategies.

Instagram: Stylesby.tyra

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...