Entrepreneur and haircare guru Taliah Wajid made waves rejuvenating natural hair through her innovative products and is now on a quest to reclaim her mental health for herself and her community.
For many, self-care has solely meant spa dates, treating ourselves to the little (and sometimes big things), and dedicating every other weekend to washing and styling our hair. And that is 100% okay.
But what if we challenged ourselves to reckon with our mental health outside of self-care Sunday?
“Hustle culture” has our community in a chokehold. The belief that one must be actively moving and attaining success without taking time for rest is not only unhealthy, but a detriment to the conception of how full life can be without the expectation of work fueling what it means to be “well.”
While juggling a successful career and dealing with the incarceration of her significant other, Taliah Waajid, the founder of her popular namesake haircare line, began to struggle with her mental health. This is where her journey to true mental wellness began. After being diagnosed with clinical depression, the mother of two became determined to understand her generational history of mental health in hopes of inspiring the greater Black community on her journey. The hair care entrepreneur is actively seeking to remove the stigma surrounding mental health in our community while empowering those struggling to seek and embrace change.
Below, Waajid shares intimate details about her quest to peak positive mental wellness as a multi-hyphenate entrepreneur.
What inspired you to actively share your mental health journey with the world?
Taliah Waajid: Knowledge is power. I want to empower people to speak up if they are having feelings of sadness, are not feeling good, or are having problems comprehending. Our community would be much stronger if we communicated about a lot of the things that we were taught to be embarrassed about (with mental health being one of them). I believe that we would have fewer of our Back men incarcerated, fewer homeless people on the streets, more Black children thriving in schools if we just removed the negative stigma about mental illness.
What was the specific moment that you internalized that you needed to take your mental health seriously?
I realized that I needed to take my mental health seriously after my mother brought it to my attention that I might be depressed. She and my dad were living with me at the time,so they saw the decline, firsthand. My mother told me that she felt that something was "off" in my personality. I'm so glad that I was open about listening to her and what the doctor shared with me about mental illness. Deep down, I knew something was wrong, but I never thought it was depression. I didn't know I was depressed until we had that conversation. After I was diagnosed with depression, I immediately started to research what that meant and how I could function and keep myself healthy.
EBONY: What does taking care of your mental health look like for you on a day-to-day basis?
Walking 3 miles a day, having my family around me weekly, seeing my son and daughter daily, or as much as possible, really helps me. I also really enjoy talking to God, working smarter and not harder, taking quiet time any time of the day, if needed, and enjoying time with my fiancé. It brings me peace.
As an entrepreneur who successfully manages a reputable hair care brand and one of the largest hair care events in the world, how do you prevent burnout and prioritize your mental health daily?
I still get overwhelmed and sad. I make a point to take around 30 to 60 minutes of quiet time in the morning or sometime throughout the day. I walk three miles a day. I remind myself, that 'it can wait till tomorrow.' I always ask God for help and guidance and most importantly, I let people around me know when I am not my best mentally.
Do you have any advice for Black entrepreneurs who are seeking to scale their businesses successfully but not at the risk of jeopardizing their mental health?
My advice is to take small breaks when you feel overwhelmed. Ask for help when you need it. Let people around you know when you are not feeling your best mentally. You need a support person or team that can step in to help when you are not feeling your best. Don't commit to tasks, meetings, or anything else that you are not mentally prepared to handle. Get as much rest as possible. Exercise, take vacations, staycations, and frequent weekend breaks away from it all. Your mind is constantly going when running a business—so make sure there is a place for peace reserved in your mind that you visit at least 30 minutes daily.
How would you like to see the collective state of mental health within the Black community transition in the future?
I would like to see more celebrities and athletes who have large platforms talk about it in a way that helps normalize it to the masses. I would like to see more information for preventative action for mental health as it relates to issues like ADD and ADHD. I would like to see parents learning to talk to their children and loved ones about mental illness in a way that empowers them. I would also like for parents to know that there are resources in public schools that are available to them and their children with ADD, ADHD, and other cognitive disabilities.