New London – A young entrepreneur says she turned her life around by opening a “cozy” space for people of all ages to braid their hair.
Decked out in pink and green, The Braid Hive at 280 Connecticut Ave. it looks like a little chic jungle. Owner Nee-Tasia Sutton, 23, said the jungle reflected her crazy life and her upbringing, which wasn’t always the best.
At the age of seven, her brother Na’Quon Sutton was left to care for her when she was only five. They lived in Atlanta and their parents weren’t always around.
There were times when they were locked out of the house and Na’Quon Sutton would hold back his bowels and urine because he didn’t want to leave his sister alone.
Her brother suffered from stage 5 kidney failure later in life, a residual effect of a childhood urinary tract infection that went untreated for too long. He was mentioned in The Day in 2017 as needing a kidney transplant.
Sutton opened her braid business on Sept. 3, the same day she entered prison two years earlier. She spent nine months in prison after being linked to an attempted murder in 2019.
She said being in the wrong crowd made her intervene in the situation. Now, Sutton has dedicated her time to a career she says began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, braiding and spending time with her clients.
The Braid Hive, like a beehive for bees, is where people can get braids and where her clients can have a one-on-one space to talk about what’s going on in their lives, Sutton said.
“I’ve never been in trouble before,” she said. “This is my second chance.”
After serving her time, Sutton said she worked at various barbershops in the area — Jeffery’s Barber Shop, Castillo’s on Montauk Avenue and JBS Barber Spa — braiding men’s and women’s hair. She said it feels amazing to open her own business after everything she’s been through.
“Even though you’re going through traumatic experiences, you can still do anything you set your mind to,” she said.
Sutton said she has built up a large clientele and is booked for next month. She said she even had the opportunity to braid Connecticut Sun players’ hair.
The main services her business currently offers are stitched and knotless braids, better known as box and corn braids, for children, women and men. Prices for her services range from $25 for no-weave braids, a hairstyle typically created by weaving pieces of real or synthetic hair into a person’s existing hair, to $250 for a full head of weave braids.
Sutton said her goal is to put similar salons in different cities and build a team that can work with her. She also plans to try to give back to the community. She said she offered free candy on Halloween and will likely give away free turkeys on Thanksgiving.