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For Christina Kirkey Taylor and her PinUp Studio, the stars aligned behind her hard work to ultimately bring her success.
The 28-year-old Raleigh native, a self-described “very girly girl,” grew up loving hair and makeup—school and books, not so much. Pursuing her dream to work in a creative profession, Taylor graduated from high school a year early to begin school at Paul Mitchell and discovered a passion for cosmetology.
Taylor says her dad, William Taylor, was her biggest supporter. A painter, small business owner and entrepreneur, William would bring his crew into Paul Mitchell occasionally so Taylor could gain experience cutting their hair. But her dad suddenly passed and Taylor’s world came to a screeching halt.
Angry and unsure of what to do next, Taylor eventually finished school and started on her career path styling hair. She quickly realized she didn’t love working for others.
“I had purple hair and an edge,” Taylor recalls. She set her sights on opening her own, unique salon. To raise the money she needed to realize her dream, Taylor did hair by day and worked for an eyelash studio in the evenings to learn how to do lash extensions. Soon, Taylor was able to take her small portfolio of 10 clients and open her own hair and eyelash business, PinUp Studio.
“It was small,” she says, “but I had to start somewhere.”
The more Taylor’s business grew, the more she realized she needed to expand and have a team. On Facebook, Taylor saw a salon listed for sale in the same shopping center she and her dad used to frequent for lunch. Though she says she wasn’t quite ready to expand at the time, she called the broker anyway to find out more information. Taylor says it was clear the studio would become PinUp’s future home; within two months, the papers were signed, the remodel was completed and the doors were open. Now, Taylor has a team of 13 stylists working for PinUp Studio—including the original salon’s owner, who has been both employee and mentor—or renting studio space.
Taylor credits much of her success to her dad who was also her role model. Though William’s education ended in middle school and he never learned to write, Taylor says he worked hard and always put people first. He became successful and profitable in his business and his hard work and the way he treated his staff left a lasting impression on Taylor, as did his focus on giving back.
Now, Taylor supports dozens of local causes including Gabi’s Grounds, a coffee shop and advocacy group for people with disabilities, and Redefined Courage, a nonprofit committed to supporting breast cancer survivors.
“If you do good, good will come back to you,” Taylor says. She adds that she spends a lot of time helping others because she remembers when she didn’t have any clients and was working hard to build her brand.
Taylor admits that success hasn’t always come easy or without hard work. She tells other entrepreneurs to never give up. At her first professional women’s seminar, Taylor recalls dropping her entire sandwich in her lap in front of people during lunch.
“I held it together, but at the end of the day, I cried in my car and told myself I wasn’t giving up now,” Taylor says. “Find what sets your soul on fire and that’s the reason you’re not supposed to stop.”
Taylor says she hopes she leaves a legacy like that of her dad’s.
“I want to be known for helping as many people as I can and making a positive impact in this world. Sure, riches are nice, but if you aren’t helping other people, those riches don’t mean anything in the end.”
In this series, Raleigh Magazine takes a look at some of the women in our city who are getting the job done.
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