Partnered with several beauty brands including; Dr. Miracle’s, Lottabody and most recently Crème of Nature, The Cut Life, debunking short hair stereotypes, offers women an assortment of hairstyles for the short haired girl—from sassy to edgy, funky to classy, bald to bob, pixies to color and natural to relaxer through their digital platform.
Outside of building and maintaining a massive Instagram community for short hair embracers, The Cut Life sells merchandise and houses a beauty lifestyle site. Co-founder, Tahira Joy Wright talks with me about her days as a celebrity publicist, how to be featured on the Instagram page, and her experience having a two-page spread in Black Hair Magazine.
Before you became the co-founder of The Cut Life, you were once a publicist. Your roster included some of Atlanta’s residents and heavy hitters in the industry like actress Keshia Knight Pulliam (Rudy from The Cosby’s) and rapper Ludacris. Initially, how did you get into Public Relations?
It all started my freshman year of college. A friend of mine, Tarrell Thornton was going to a local radio station, Hot 107.9 and asked if I wanted to come. I said sure, I’ve never been to a radio station before and thought it sounded intriguing. I went up there with him; I thought it was cool and felt I needed to be there all the time. It just so happened they were having interviews that same Saturday for internships. So that’s how I got my start, by interning at Hot107.9 in Atlanta. I worked in their promotions department. I was going to events, writing copy for different promotions that were going on, I would sit in the studio with the on-air personalities. I got a chance to meet artists, managers, publicists and record label executives.
After doing that for a year, I went to intern at Lil John’s label, BME Recordings. That was during the time when the crunk movement was popular. So Lil’ Scrappy and Crime Mob are like my brothers and sisters. I’ve known them for years working with them. The person I interned for at BME Recordings, Orlando McGee, was over marketing at the time. When I graduated from school he introduced me to the manager of 8Ball and MJG. He needed an assistant, and he referred me. So that was my first paid job working in the industry as an Executive Assistant to 8Ball and MJG’s management. So I have a very strong music—specifically rap music—background in Atlanta. I worked different jobs here and there and eventually started Branded PR in 2008.
I started freelancing and working with some of the people mentioned before, including T.I., B.o.B., and a few other brands. It’s been quite a ride. PR was a lot of fun, but publicity was just a stepping stone for me. I’ve always had that entrepreneurship mindset. I wanted to use my skill set and relationships beyond PR.
You definitely accredit your internships as your stepping stone to starting your career.
Absolutely. Everyone loves free work. That’s a start, but you have to treat it as if you are getting paid. I think that was my motto the day I walked through the door. I knew I wasn’t getting a salary, but I knew I was in a position to be able to gain a lot of knowledge, experience and meet a lot of people. I literally worked there as if it was a full-time job. I took it very seriously. I think it caught the eye of other people, who gained that respect for me because I wasn’t there to lollygag and play around.
I tell anyone who wants to work within the entertainment industry specifically, [I think Russell Simmons said this before] you have to go where the entertainment is happening. Number one you’ve got to move to New York, Los Angeles or Atlanta and number two you have to intern. As long as you’re professional, willing to learn and hardworking, people will give you a chance. And it’s for you to prove what you can do while you’re there. The jobs that I’ve gotten as paid jobs were relationships that I built as an intern, 100%.
You launched The Cut Life in June 2013. How long was it in the works before its launch?
Maybe a week or a few days. It was a random idea. There wasn’t really anything about short hair online, I would see natural hair blogs, extensions, color, etc. I’m a short hair girl, I’ve been rocking my hair well over five years and I wanted some inspiration too. I started looking on Instagram and Googling and I didn’t see anything. There might have been a couple of sites that were barely updated or sites that may have focused on one particular style, but I didn’t see anything that encompassed all short hair and the name ‘The Cut Life’ literally just came to mind. It was the first name that came to mind.
It was just an idea. I thought it would be cute to start a page, not a business. I told my friend, Kimberly Walker about the idea. She was working for a beauty brand and I wanted to hear her insight on it. I asked her what did she think about this idea and she literally stopped in her tracks and was like, “Oh my gosh Tahira this is amazing. There’s nothing out here like this. You’re not pigeonholed by ethnicity or hair texture, you can literally feature anyone focusing on short hair. If you get this launched I promise I’ll get a check from the brand I work for to sponsor something for you.” She held her word. We launched in June. In August 2013, she had the brand write us a check to sponsor our launch event—our first event. And at this time we probably had a couple thousand followers on Instagram. It grew from there. Kimberly has been a huge support.
I’m a strategist and I’m analytical but at the same time I do enjoy taking risks; a lot of time they are calculated risks. But sometimes, you can’t think too hard about things and I’m learning that through this process with The Cut Life. Sometimes if you have an idea, you have to throw it out there. It doesn’t have to be a perfect idea, especially if it’s something new. You don’t know where it could go. If you hear the voice to do something, just put it out there and continue to move.
To me, this whole company is a testament to how God moves when you listen to him when he talks to you. We didn’t have a business plan. We didn’t project that we’ll be almost at 1 million followers by the end of 2015. We didn’t know the potential of what this was going to be. To me, this is what makes it more of a blessing, to know that God’s hand is in it. It snowballed faster than I thought it would.
You are the co-founder of The Cut Life, along with Garmai Momolu. Were you the originator of it all? If so, how did Garmai get involved?
We were friends first and we were both in PR. She was focused on fashion PR (and currently still is) and we came up with different ideas. When I thought of ‘The Cut Life,’ I figured it wouldn’t cost us anything: we’ll build an Instagram page and post pictures and see if people like it. It’s a lot less expensive and demanding than getting material to make jewelry.
She was down. She has an amazing eye; I have to accredit her for the aesthetics of how the images really pop and we have a rhythm of how we select images. Everything from curating those images, creating cool captions. She really set the tone for it. I may have come up with the initial thought, the name and what the focus should be, but creatively she came up with really dope aesthetics that clearly resonate with people.
What makes The Cut Life stand out from other digital beauty platforms?
Women love options when it comes to beauty and that is one of the things The Cut Life represents. There are so many women that are happy someone is speaking up for the short haired girl.
For example, on our site, we feature everything from bob to bald, natural to relaxed and hair color. It’s just about choice, definitely maintaining healthy hair, but do you. At the end of the day, it’s your hair. Hair can be a personal thing similar to how your style can be a personal thing. It’s a part of expressing your personality before you even open your mouth. Just because you have short hair doesn’t mean you’re bald and sad. These girls have short hair, they’re fly, their face is done and they have a dope style. We do feature celebrities, but people love the fact that majority of the girls we feature are everyday women who are rocking their look.
To sum it up, I think all we’re trying to do is provide options to people and let them know they can be beautiful too if they decide to wear their hair this way. You don’t have to have long hair to be considered sexy and beautiful. Some of the baddest chicks I’ve seen on our page have super low, Amber Rose styled haircuts.
There are many women who tag and hashtag, The Cut Life. In order to be featured, is there a certain checklist one must have, whether it be perfectly arched eyebrows or as they say, “makeup beat to the gawds?”
Not necessarily a certain look. But what we do look for when we search the hashtag is can we really see the cut? Is it clear? We don’t like images that are heavily filtered because we want to be able to see detail. The real color and not the filtered color.
Angles. Is there anything in the background that’s distracting? Is the lighting in the picture good? You don’t have to be beat down but, it is Instagram and it is a visual platform so it doesn’t hurt. You have to have something that is relatable but aspirational too.
It comes down to what stands out for us. One minute it could be a girl with a bob that has a beat face and the next minute it could be a girl with a really short tapered cut who doesn’t have any makeup on, but naturally pretty.
It surprises me because on any given day I don’t know what people would be attracted to. We could post a simple bob or the simplest classic style and it‘ll get well over 10,000+ likes. I think it’s because it’s relatable hair. Women feel like they can obtain that too.
Your brand has over 900,000+ followers on Instagram alone. The online buzz is definitely real! How did you grow your brand online?
The main thing is to be consistent. Once you put a platform online you can’t just post one day and a week later your second post goes up. Be conscious of the captions you’re putting up and pay attention to the images.
I’m a stickler that if I follow you, and you aren’t posting anything for like 4-5 weeks and I don’t really know you, I’ll probably unfollow you. Why is this person on here and they aren’t really consistent?
We’re highly engaged with our followers. We can’t respond to every comment, but we at least try to answer questions, provide feedback, ask questions to get some engagement going and have people engage with each other. Even if you don’t have a lot of followers, if you’re engaging, a lot of times they’ll tag their girlfriends and tell them to follow. Even something as simple as a response, people get excited about.
Make sure what you post resonates with your brand. When you start gaining a lot of followers and start doing advertising, it has to be consistent with what you’re promoting. Don’t advertise waist trainers if your focus is short hair. You can’t be in two different ends of the spectrum because that confuses your followers.
We see a trend and movement with being natural and rocking your natural texture. Even though there is still ways to go, 10 years ago, how mainstream media viewed natural hair is very different from today. As an entrepreneur in the beauty business, what are your predictions for black and minority hair and beauty for the coming years?
It’s kind of difficult to predict because one thing people ask us is, are we stylists and we’re not. We post what we like and it’s really that simple. I think people will continue to experiment with color and will try new styles. There is that celebrity and media influence of people going for the chop—from Jennifer Lawrence to Jennifer Hudson cutting their hair. You never know, 10 years from now the trend could be having spikes on the top of your head again. Things repeat; we’ve seen the 80s and 90s look come back. We’ve seen women wear the Chinese bang with the bob and the choker.
I think going into 2016, I can see more people experimenting with taking their weaves out, maybe not long term, but they’ll be more open to saying they can do without it sometimes. I think people will say they don’t want to be restricted by weaves. Some folks think they still have to wear it to achieve a certain look, but you also notice people taking it out and wearing their hair. I think people miss touching their own scalp, just the simple things. That’s why cutting their hair has become a phenomenon because they can have a really cute dope style and don’t necessarily have to wear a weave if they don’t want to.
What was your journey to having short hair?
The initial reason I cut my hair was because I got blonde highlights in college. As you know how it is when you’re in college, you don’t always have the money to consistently get your hair done as you should. I had a lot of damage and breakage so I thought the best thing to do is to start over. I ended up getting the Halle Berry flip cut and I hated it. I hated it. It was the worst haircut for me.
Then I grew my hair back, got bored and wanted something different. This was around the time Rihanna was cutting her hair. After I got the cut I really wanted, it changed everything. People used to say, “Gosh Tahira, you’ve always been a cute girl, but this haircut gives you so much edge and sassiness.” I became addicted to it. I’ve tried to grow my hair into a bob several times and I never make it. The longest I’ve tried was maybe three months.
I’ve heard from many, when you have a short hairstyle, you have to keep up with it. How often do you get your hair done?
Typically, I tend to be “a weekly.” I think my hair has a built-in alarm clock. It’ll literally instantly start itching to the day, every week. I’m one of those people who enjoys the salon atmosphere. I love my stylist, I like having that moment to relax and be pampered a little bit. I love the conversation in the salon, it’s a fun environment to be in.
The fact that I have short hair means I don’t have to be under the dryer forever. It’s easy for me to maintain because I tend to keep my sides and back low. I keep more hair in the top with my bang in the middle, so I can comb it to the side in a mini wrap, tie it down, wake up the next day and let it go. I may touch up the curl here and there depending on the look I want. But a lot of times I’ll put a dab of oil and use edge control on the sides and use my hand to pull my hair out. I like funky, rocker chic, not really trying too hard hair.
As the co-founder and essentially an ambassador of your own brand, you’ve had short hair for over 7 years. Do you find it necessary for branding and marketing purposes to have short hair?
Now I do. I’ll keep it 100. I think it’ll be very disappointing for fans of The Cut Life if they saw someone who is essentially the face of the brand not living that life. This is a lifestyle that I truly live; it was branded from a real place. Short hair is true to who I am personally and how I prefer to wear my hair.
Let’s keep one thing very clear: short hair doesn’t mean it’s not versatile hair. I have had at least 10 different haircuts. I’ve had a Mohawk, shaved sides, long bangs, pixies, blonde, reddish brown and its jet black now. I switch it up all the time and I don’t feel confined by short hair. If I go on vacation and want to sew in some hair, I can do that. I’m not against it at all.
What are some suggestions for others who are thinking about living the cut life?
If you’re a girl doing the super low pixie with the perfect curl, you’ll probably need to pull that curling iron out and touch it up. People should remember when they get their hair cut to think about your lifestyle before you choose a style.
For example, if you have short natural hair and you work out a lot, it might not be best to do a straight pixie. It may be best for you to do a tapered cut and let your natural curls flow. So that way you don’t have to worry about when you’re sweating that your hair is curling up. Just get it cut in a cute curly cut, where you can just rock it.
Sometimes relaxers get a hard rap, but I think when it comes to short hair it’s not always about wanting your hair bone straight, it’s about maintaining a certain style.
Don’t come at someone for using a chemical when at the end of the day, if your hair is naturally curly, but you color it, that’s still using a chemical. If you’re using shampoo, conditioners, oils, etc all those things have some chemical in it, unless you’re using straight coconut oil. Even shampoo and conditioners, to get the consistency that they have, they have a chemical in it. People have to educate themselves on that.
With certain chemicals like color, relaxers, and curly perms, it’s going to a professional and having it maintained properly. If people are getting burned and having hair loss, it is because they aren’t taking care of it. Having a chemical in your hair is maintenance, whatever chemical you decide, you have to maintain it or it will damage your hair.
You’ve recently been featured in the December 2015/January 2016 issue of “Sophisticate’s Black Hair” Magazine. Congrats! What was the experience like for you?
Wow. That was surreal. Sophisticate’s Black Hair, shout out to them. It was an amazing experience. It was actually in conjunction with Crème of Nature. They called me and a few other bloggers to do a shoot for their Straight from Eden campaign. A part of that shoot was showing makeovers using the products that would be featured in the magazine as well. It was like a 2 for 1 exciting opportunity.
We’ve been featured in Juicy Magazine before, but it was just our names and the company name. But this was the first time I’ve been featured in a magazine: two pages, my face on both pages, my full name and an interview piece where I answer questions. It was really cool. By that time, all magazines will probably be extinct but… it’s something that can live forever and I can show my kids and I can say, “Look mommy was kind of cool.”
What’s next for The Cut Life?
The main thing is continuing to develop content for The Cut Life. Growing our website traffic, because many times people think we are just on Instagram.
We have some cool partnerships in the works, can’t announce it just yet. But we will be doing a partnership with a very well-known blog in 2016. I’m excited about it. We’d love for everyone to visit, livethecutlife.com.
The Cut Life
Copy Edited By: Courtney L. Branch