Texas resident Sheqiitta Kelly may be showing the world that some superwomen don’t wear capes, but sometimes rock robes. Kelly is a Dallas County judge who juggles court dates in between checking the inventory of her hair-care product, The Hair Shield.
A History of Firsts
Born in Indiana, an ambitious Kelly was the first person from her family to graduate college, attending Indiana University and obtaining a dual bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and psychology in 1999. Upon graduation, the young woman went to law school and was licensed to practice law in Dallas, joining the Dallas County District Attorney’s office, her biography shows.
By 2015, Kelly was elected as a judge to the Dallas County Criminal Court, where she created the country’s first multi-facet DV offender initiative called “Intercepted,” in which “first-time young offenders who have been charged with an assault case” work through a nine-month rehabilitative program and receive mental health and substance abuse counseling.
She also helped create “Pipeline to Possibilities,” a program created to defer the criminal justice system.
In addition to Intercepted and Pipeline to Possibilities Kelly created The Hair Shield, a storage wrap to keep a woman’s hair pieces and extensions.
Step into Entrepreneurship
She launched the product in 2018, while balancing being a wife, a mother and a judge.
Kelly told Her Agenda she was inspired to create The Hair Shield from experiences she had throughout her life.
“The idea came from the way I was raised, to be honest. I grew up in a lower-economic neighborhood, a single-parent home where money was tight and I always heard ‘Money don’t grow on trees.’ Even today, as I have reached a certain level of success, I’m always saving and [working to ensure I’m not] throwing away money,” she explained.
She added, “I noticed that I was being a hypocrite to my own word [via] my haircare. I love extensions, and I love to switch up my hairstyles but I realized that I was spending all this money on them and then just throwing them out when it was time to get my hair redone. I’d just go buy all new and spend all that money again, plus what it cost to get it installed.”
Kelly noticed there were a lot of companies advertising their hair products were set to last for a long time, but she was not getting the value out of them by wearing them only once.
“What’s going on? I thought, ‘I’m probably not storing them right. I need to put them in a better place instead of the Walmart bag or the Ziploc bag,’ ” she thought.
After researching “hair storage” or “bundle storage,” she realized there was nothing on the market. So she considered creating something for herself.
She remembered being taught the best way to preserve hair was to have a satin-lined bonnet or pillow, and then it clicked.
“I’m not a beautician, but I knew that putting 100% human hair in a plastic garment bag just didn’t line up to me,” she shared. “I [thought] ‘I know how to sew. I’ve made clothing before. Let me see if I can make something out of a satin pillowcase to put my hair in.’”
She continued, “I just put together this little makeshift item and put my hair in there, and then I kept using it. I realized, after doing that, I hadn’t bought new hair in a year,” the judge said.
Kelly launched her product on Etsy, while still maintaining the dockets that came across her desk. Her first customers were white women and after an aggressive social media marketing campaign, she was able to get in front of more people.
“I did a lot of social media marketing after hiring a social media company two-and-half years ago,” she said. “I got a lot more engagement and more clicks to my website and more purchases based on that marketing company putting up ads. I was able to read comments where women are saying ‘Oh my God, where has this been all my life?’ or ‘You need this,’ and they’re tagging their friends. It helped my [confidence] because with entrepreneurship you take a lot of blows to your ego.”
But Kelly said she needed more than just likes and followers, she wanted to sell.
She said in an interview with Medium, she said the road to being an entrepreneur was “daunting.”
“I’ve made many costly mistakes and suffered numerous losses,” she admitted; at times she wanted to quit but was reminded that “Oprah wanted to quit,” also.
One way that keeps her motivated is combining her two worlds. She created yet another project, an event that she hosts each month called “Curls, Clippers, and Conversations.”
Despite the difficult times, the judge has stayed committed to the grind, showcasing excellence in both worlds and learning all the lessons she possibly can.
At this gathering, Kelly educates the hair industry on the criminal justice system.
“Although the journey has been rocky and the laughs have been few,” Kelly confesses, “The lessons learned along the way, have been rewarding.”