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Navigating Motherhood, Business and Family with Eveliz Assiamah

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

Introduction by Efuwa Tomety

After 17 years of choosing to lean into her ministry, she’s designed hair pieces for some of your favorite celebrities on the red carpet, from Angela Bassett to Pose Star, Mj Rodriguez to media personality Ashlee Marie Preston, actress Kiersey Clemons as well as being the head stylist for the beauty queen representing Ghana in the Miss Universe competition that held in Las Vegas. Her work has been featured on Netflix, Essence, The Real, Amazon Prime Video & The Emmy Awards.

Eveliz has become more than just a hair artist. She has taken a stand, defied expectations and transformed the relationship that women have with their hair and therefore themselves, while building a business and raising a family.

There has been talk about millennial women and the choices we make for ourselves that go against how previous generations have lead their lives. Millennial women, thanks to the road paved by the brave women before us, are the current generation collectively making decisions that will transform the world as we see it.

Today, some of us have the freedom to choose to work, to choose to marry, to choose to have children, to choose to build the life of our dreams.

Eveliz chose to have all four, so we sat together and had a chat about how to navigate it all; Motherhood, family and business without losing yourself in the process.

Sit back, get your beverage of choice and enjoy all the wisdom that transpired through this conversation.

Who is Eveliz?

Hmm who is Eveliz? First off, I am a mommy, I am a wife, I am a business owner and I don’t know if you’ve said it already, I am the founder and creative director of Maneregalia & Studio Eveliz which is a luxury hair extensions company as well as a photography studio.

Tell us a bit about when you knew you wanted to start a business,

I have always said since I was a child, honestly.

I grew up in a household where my mother was a business owner. She was doing big time business when we were little. We grew up seeing people in and out of our house always bringing in inventory, so it was just in the back of my head that going to school and choosing the corporate route isn’t the only way. I was able to see that you can go either way and you can make a good decent living.

So I started selling little things around our house like gari, and little food stuff from the pantry at the age of 10 years old, making a bit of money here and there, and then I also remember that in high school around the age of 13/14 years old, I also started a candy house.

I was the candy house and I was bringing in so much money to be in high school, it was like a serious business y’all.

I was the candy lady for the whole neighbourhood. I had everything you needed and was always thinking of how to add other products.

So I just think it was in my head the whole time.

At the age of 13/14 years old, owning a business doesn’t always come to you naturally. So while you made friends in school who had ambitions to be doctors, engineers and choosing the corporate path, did you battle with your choices at the time?

No, I never had any battles with that. I knew I wanted to go to medical school to become a dermatologist but then as I entered college I realised that, you know what, this isn’t for me; this isn’t me you know? I knew I needed to go back to what made me happy and what drives me and I made up my mind then. So in college I had my apartment set up where I started doing everybody’s hair. I built a clientele in college that I still have today. And I just knew that when I got out of college, the next step was trying to make my dreams come true.

So I also knew in college that when I graduated, I was not going the corporate route.

Have you ever worked in the corporate world?

Yes. So I worked for Bank of America as a Foreclosure Specialist and while I was there, I gave it my all, I gave it my best and I was one of the top performers there. I had a good attitude while in corporate because I knew that I needed to do this now so that I can get the money to go where I wanted to be.

Can you tell us about the process of establishing yourself as a business owner. At what age you made the decision to branch out, how you started, what you started with and the overall journey to Mane Regalia?

The process is such a broad question. I get asked all the time how to start a business, just last week I shared about how to venture into entrepreneurship.

It is just the basics of finding out a solid idea that is going to make you money. You need money, you need the right business professionals to guide you to make sure you aren’t making damaging mistakes because entrepreneurship is a very tough and risky path so you have to make sure that all your ducks are in a row.

With me, I mentioned earlier that I am lucky to have a lot of business owners and financial gurus in my family so every question I had, everything I needed, there was always somebody I could talk to. Or there were institutions around that were not for profit who help with business planning and helped guide me into getting grants and loans. It’s a long journey but there are steps to it and as I said, I shared about this earlier. You can access this on my Instagram page.

So having already established that you have a photography studio as well as a separate business for luxury hair extensions, At the beginning, did you decide to start both businesses at the same time or did you approach it one business at a time?

Yes. I decided to start both businesses together because the idea was, I was very good at photography and I was equally as good at beauty so I decided to come up with a unique concept of photography and beauty. So you can come in, get your hair and make up done and then go ahead and get a photoshoot done at the same time without having to be stretched here and there. It is a great concept and a lot of people loved it and still love it till today.

When you launched your salon and studio, did you immediately have a pour in of customers?

So of course I took advantage of advertising. I knew I had to target a larger audience. I know that for me, I’m trying to build my clientele. I had family and friends around me but you need more than that. You don’t start a business thinking that you are only going to have friends and family patronising you. So what I did was money mailers, I was on groupon and living social which are coupon websites. So I took advantage of everything I could do including going to events, networking, telling people about the business and simply letting people know that we existed.

Did this cost a lot of money?

Oh it costs a lot of money advertising. I was just having a conversation like, man, I’m about to have an ad on Facebook, just pray for me. Because paying those huge amounts on advertising, you are praying it comes back.

How quickly were you able to see a return on investment?

With coupons, people always respond. With that, you can get your clientele to come in and experience what you offer but you essentially do not want coupon clients all the time. So it was a good balance, you need to figure out when to cut it off. So for instance you’d offer it to first time clients and hope that their experience will cause them to return. And that is how we built a lot of clientele.

How do you deal with friends and family who constantly expect freebies from you as a professional?

Well I have no problem saying no. So I don’t allow others to take advantage of me and that is something you learn as you go in business.

At the beginning I was the one reaching out like, can I do your hair for free, just so I can get the images that I can use to push my business. So yes, there were times when I would offer freebies, but for friends and family that believe they could just slide in and ask you for free services, no, I don't. No free stuff.

It’s hard telling people that feel very close to you that you can’t do something but you have to take those steps from the beginning as an entrepreneur or you are not going to make any money. You are simply going to hate your job.

When you do that, your work and your time will not be respected.

Because think about it, this is your job. The same way, others sit at their desk from 9-5 is the same way they need to respect entrepreneurship. When they go to work, they aren’t getting discounted. When their boss decides to not pay them for Thursday’s 9-5, they will be very mad about it. They’ll call HR and make a big fuss about it. So why do you go to an entrepreneur and ask for a discount?

The way I work is, if I offer to give you a discount, that is me offering you a discount because I value who you are as a friend or a family member, but I think it is really disrespectful to ask entrepreneurs to give discounts.

Did this working principle affect your close relationships?

Well it always does. People do not like being told no so yes it does, but then they get over it. After sometime l think, their eyes open to the fact that, this person is actually trying to live off this, you know?, So then they decide to actually support you and come back around, but with friends, it’s always a flip of a coin. It’s either they support you or they don’t and you can’t really force it.

Was there some kind of disappointment that came with the fact that the people you were expecting to support you didn’t?

Oh yeah! You’ll be disappointed because you’d be thinking, wow, I really thought this person was going to support and ride for me but then they don’t. And then you have clients who, I don’t know where, are very supportive. I have some clients that are like family now. I couldn’t call them by their name. I refer to them as “sis” because they are so supportive. Anything you do they are behind you. So again, with friends, they are not all negative. There are some people that will go the whole nine yards just to support you. Like I’m that friend that if you start a business, I am going to support you just because I know how hard it is starting a business.

The best support is from strangers. I always say that strangers are the biggest to cheer you on and you just have to take that and go with it. That’s something I’ve learnt.

“You can’t let your dreams die because you are trying to be married. I mean marriage is beautiful but it is not the end.”

There’s been a lot of talk in our society as women about dumbing down our ambitions to not scare away possible suitors. We have a lot of women listening to this interview, can you share where you stand on this subject?

I feel like you don’t have to dumb down anything. You can’t let your dreams die because you are trying to be married. I mean marriage is beautiful but it is not the end. I feel like women who have dreams should chase after them. Men actually love women who chase after their dreams. They may not say that a lot, but they don’t want a woman who does not want to do anything for herself, one who just wants to be there and get taken care of. So yeah they might not voice it as much, but I think women should go after their dreams as fiercely as they can so that they can have a sense of self worth themselves and not have to depend on a man.

Do you believe entrepreneurship is for everyone?

I can go off on a tangent about this because we are in this era where everybody thinks that everybody has to be an entrepreneur and no, no! I mean I have mentors in corporate that are doing fantastic, making good money, living driven lives and are fulfilled.

People make it seem like the only way to be fulfilled is to be an entrepreneur. I mean, you would think that me as an entrepreneur will be pushing that, but I feel like it’s not for everybody. We need to stop making people who are not entrepreneurs feel bad for not wanting to be entrepreneurs.

I have family members that say, I’d rather sit at my desk and have my money coming in, knowing how much I’m going to make every month and have the structure. Some people need structure.

Entrepreneurship sometimes doesn’t have structure and you have to have the mental capacity for it.

So no, I do not think it is for everybody. I believe that if you are driven to start something while in corporate, start on the side and see if it is something that you truly like.

Some people think I jumped into entrepreneurship and it solved all my problems. No, when you’re getting kicked out of your apartment because you can’t pay rent, your problems will be piling up okay? When they take your car because you can’t pay your car note, your problems will pile up. So no, I believe everybody should focus on what makes them happy and not feel pressured by society because everybody is an entrepreneur today.

Before you got married and had children, how did you imagine your life to be as a mother, a wife and an entrepreneur?

I didn’t have it all figured out. I just knew I was going to be married one day and we were going to have kids and I was going to raise my kids to be these kind of people. I had those thoughts.

When I was single, of course I was on my path doing what I do now. When I got married, I made sure that my partner knew, "this is the path, do you support this?" I explained to him how it works and made sure we were on the same page. This is very important because I want to make sure that I could live my life the way I wanted to with him also being in it.

Now I would say that I was very lucky because my husband is very supportive. He always said, I’m more of the corporate guy, if you want to be an entrepreneur, that’s fine, I will help and push you with that. It just balances out.

So now that you have it all, what is your reality really like?

I wouldn’t say, I have it all and I say this because a lot of single women feel like you have to get married to be whole and honestly, we need to debunk that because you are good by yourself and then when you have a husband and a family, it’s like an extra, it helps but it’s not the "all". That is one that I try to encourage a lot of single women on because I’ve been on both sides.

I would say that now that I am married, it is fulfilling, I see that it is like having a help mate. Like a partner that will help you. You don’t have to do everything by yourself anymore. You don’t have to think stuff out by yourself because there is always somebody there to help you.

There is also an added responsibility with a husband and children because now, you cannot wake up at any time you want, you have to do this and that.

So yes, you want to get married, yes, you want to have children, but have you thought about how this will change your life? How is it going to change your schedule? Are you up to that? Because there is a lot of responsibility that comes with that too

“So, even though you have an idea of what being a mother is like, you can never be prepared. I say there is no memo”

Did all this come to you as any surprise? When you had your first child, did it come to you as a surprise with regards to how much it was taking from you?

When I first got married, I was like, okay. So this guy is going to be here everyday all day, in my face. I went through this phase where I thought wow, we are going to be together, you know, all the time. And for somebody who has lived by herself, done her own thing on her own time, that was kind of strange but I navigated through that. And then the kids came, which I thought was going to be easy.

I thought oh, it’s just kids, I’ve taken care of little kids before , but no. They depend on you for everything. From food to care, everything! They look at you like Ma, Ma for everything. Like you are the provider for what I need, can you imagine that? So even though you have an idea of what being a mother is like, you can never be prepared. I say there is no memo.

I remember when I brought my first daughter home from the hospital, she would not sleep, she was crying, crying, crying and I was looking like are you serious? It was so stressful. I was sitting down on the bed and I was just thinking to myself like wow, look at hubby over there sleeping and I’m over here with the baby.

Did this have an effect on your mental health in any way?

At the beginning, yes. I said if I don’t watch this, I am going to slip into postpartum depression. I was really checking myself for that because you need to get help. Yes, at the beginning I was so stressed out because I still have to run my business, I still need to be a wife and I still have to take care of this kid who is depending on me for everything. So yes it was hard in the beginning but of course with friends and family members who always try to help you out, it gets better.

You also always have to ask for help. That’s also something I learnt because I always thought I could do everything by myself, I had always done everything by myself.

Now, I don’t even care, I’ll be like Hey, can I drop Elena off please for a few hours? Because that helps you stay sane and sometimes you need that.

How have you managed to juggle running a successful business, being mother and a wife along with being pregnant with your second child without being absent in any area?

One thing I must point out is that I really love what I do. It really makes me happy. When I create something it makes me so happy. I don’t even know whether hubby will be interested but I show him like look at this! So working through pregnancy was because it is something that is fun for me. I worked until a month before delivery only because the doctor said “you need to start” because the baby was taking over my back and everything was hurting.

But I really love what I do and that drives me.

How am I juggling now? Okay so we have Elena who is 3 years old now. She can do a few things like pick up stuff, tidy up and she can feed herself which is amazing so I rely on that.

Anything I know she can do by herself, I make sure she does it.

Anything I know she can’t do by herself, I talk to her dad about it.

With the newborn, she depends on me for everything and I’ve been pumping but I feel like I’m not pumping enough to give to somebody yet to help me so I am hands on, with that. But I think that the help that he provides helps me a lot with juggling it because then I have time.

With his schedule also, when he’s not working, I try to get in a lot of things that I know I can’t do by myself. So If I have business needs, like someone needs me or if I’m working with chemicals, I schedule it around when he is not working. And he’s a good sport. Like right now, he’s watching them while I talk with you.

“I am going to take advantage of my tribe. If I need help, I am going to ask for help, that’s something I’ve had to learn”

I feel the need to pause and ask you how you are doing?

Thank you for asking because not many people ask. I feel like I’m doing good. The support from friends and family has been great. A lot of people ask me what I need and send me stuff. They’re like go to your front door. People are supporting. It’s like what they say, the village is helping with the process.

For a woman in your position, what does support look like?

I would say support can be in a form of

A) Check in on them, see how they are doing because like I said earlier, people don’t even ask. They just see you and think you are doing okay and can juggle everything but sometimes you need people that ask

B) I’ve also had people who send me stuff. They tell me check your front door and they would’ve sent me diapers, gifts to Elena who just had a birthday

C) People not asking me to do things that are tasking. For someone who is navigating pregnancy and a newborn, that is not support

As a business owner, how can someone support you when they do not have the means to buy from you?

I do realise that I offer a luxury service so not everybody can support in that way but with little things. You know Instagram has this crazy, wacky algorithm going on? You can just like our posts, you can comment and if we are asking you to subscribe, you can subscribe to your friends channels. These help our businesses to get ahead and help with visibility. Also share their work or refer others who are in a position to purchase from them.

Now that you are a family of 4 with 2 beautiful girls, how are you going to continue chasing your dreams?

Once you have a family, it doesn’t mean that you stop. All those goals that you had, you still have to keep pushing.

How I am going to juggle all that and keep chasing my dreams is, I am going to take advantage of my tribe. If I need help, I am going to ask for help, that’s something I’ve had to learn. One major help that I need is baby sitting and with the pandemic, it has been so hard. We wanted to send Elena to school and at a point we decided we can’t because we were not sure, we didn’t feel comfortable with it. I am going to ask for help as far as taking care of them. I am going to ask for help as far as my self care Sundays, I’m not giving that up. I just started doing self care Sunday and I love it where I just chill by myself and I do what I want to do. If I want to browse the internet, paint my nails, I do that.

This is something I never used to do, and now I’m doing that.

I feel like, from having a second child, it made me feel like I needed to make sure that I am truly happy because I have reached the level of having 2 children and having a husband to take care of but I cannot lose myself while doing all that.

For the business, on Monday I am not doing any business. No emails etc until Tuesday. I’ll be working Tuesdays through Saturday and I’m going to stay rigid on that. So if anybody sends something outside of these hours, they’ll have to wait because there is only one life to live and you have to be intentional about making sure that you are sane. And you need to learn how to say no.

How do you quiet your mind as a mother who has many responsibilities waiting?

I’ve learnt to just chill out. I used to be in a space where sometimes, I’ll be sleeping and I’ll wake up at 4am to send an email because my mind will be running. But then I just thought about it and decided no. Target closes at 12, they are not 24hrs and people have programmed themselves to know that you don’t go to target at 12, you can wait until tomorrow.

Another thing I had to tell myself is that, I am not a doctor, I’m not taking care of anybody’s life, it’s not an emergency, so people are going to have to wait. So when you go to bed, you just have to tune it out and rest. It’s important.

I believe that the same way others clock in their 9-5 is the same respect that needs to be given to entrepreneurs. There is still a long way to that where people don’t know the boundaries.

“Your dreams and goals are not going to wake up one day and give up on you so that’s one thing that you can control that is constant”

Name 3 women that you find influential in your journey.

My mother is a strong pillar in my life. That woman is Selfless. I was looking at her the other day and I said, I don’t think I’ve met anybody who is more selfless and I can’t wait to show her how much I appreciate her.

I have learned not to idolise people because when I have in the past, they have not turned out to be who I thought they were.

So one more person I really admire is Oprah. She knows what she’s doing. She started her show, she has her studios going, she has her movies going. I mean to know the background Oprah came from and where she is now. She is a powerhouse.

I do not have a 3rd spot but we’ll give it to the ladies listening in today for taking their time out to come on here to push their dreams forward.

Final words....

I want other women to relate with me as a woman who was single and still doing what I do and a woman who is married now and is still doing what I do. I think it’s important because people think that once you get married things change, your dreams get on the back burner, no.

I should be a good example of, you can still keep it going, you can still fight for your dreams, you can still push your goals forward. You just have to make sure that whoever you add into the partnership understands that.

Your dreams and goals are not going to wake up one day and give up on you so that’s one thing you can control that is constant.

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