Introducing Master Stylist, LaRita Ray, our fifth feature for the Leading Lady Campaign.
LaRita Ray shares her passion for cosmetology and journey towards success as a Licensed Stylist in the city of Pittsburgh, PA.
Ta’lor: I am so thankful to have you meet with me. If someone were to ask you, ‘who is LaRita Ray’ what would you say?
LaRita: LaRita Ray is my brand but she is also me. She is love. She is women empowerment. She is a whole mind. She is a mother. She is a caretaker. She is a Master Stylist and a Licensed Cosmetologist. In everything I do, I enjoy spreading love to everyone. I am someone who is always looking to give back to others. I am a full-time hair stylist, barber, and makeup artist. I am all things beauty and love.
Ta’lor: I love that and I love your passion for what you do. Where did that come from?
LaRita: Before embracing all things cosmetology, my first passion was hair. When I was younger my grandma Rita would press out our hair, and she would burn me; she use to grease my parts and burn me. (LaRita laughs) She use to tell me, “I ain’t burning you, it’s the heat,” (laughs) and I use to tell her she wasn’t doing my hair right. I just knew that was not how you were suppose to be hot-combing hair. She would tell me when I get older, then I can do it myself and I don’t have to worry about anyone burning me. So as I got older I continued to love doing hair. I would always practice and at 13 I was braiding everyone’s hair in my neighborhood on my grandmas porch. My grandma saw me and told me that I better make some money off of what I was doing, and that was it.
Ta’lor: YES LaRita! So if someone is looking for a cosmetologist, what services do you provide?
LaRita: I do all types of braiding styles, including French Braids, Fish-tails, Ghana Braids, Feed-in braids. I also do Sew-ins, Lace Frontal Installations, 360 Lace Fronts, I am a female barber, so I cut hair with scissors and clipper. I cut designs with clippers as well. I also can shave a man’s beard with a razor. As a makeup artist, I do light makeup, meaning very natural looks. I am licensed through Empire Beauty School to do all things Cosmetology, Hair Design, Makeup Application, but I will not do manicures and pedicures, Micro Braids, Kinky Twists, Marley Twist, etc., but I can refer you to other hair stylists and cosmetologist in the city of Pittsburgh who will.
Ta’lor: I don’t know about other cities, but in Pittsburgh there are not many female barbers. Why do you think that is?
LaRita: There are some, but I feel like the female barbers here in the city are not as feminine as I am. I feel like I am viewed as a “girly-girl” or too girly to be a barber for the guys. They look at me as a hair stylist, not a barber as well. I cut my son’s hair, and that allows me to show my skills to my male-clients so that they see my versatility.
Ta’lor: Well I see you are clearly making your mark as a stylist and barber. What is the season that you are in? How would you describe where you are in your business right now?
LaRita: I am in the season of sacrifice and preparation. I am preparing myself for my goal. Saving my money and seeking high expectations for my brand. I will be opening my official salon soon, but right now I do hair and makeup in my own home.
Ta’lor: “Sacrifice and Preparation” that is so profound. You had a photoshoot in June 2018. What this a part of your preparation.
LaRita: Yes it was. As I mentioned I will be opening my own salon soon, and I want to continue to highlight my work with professional images. Shout out to my photographer Nairobi Jones, he did an amazing job capturing my vision. Of course I have to thank my models, Marie Williams and my cousin, Ta’lor L. Pinkston who both did an amazing job helping me capture the heart of LaRita Ray.
Ta’lor: What was your purpose behind the photo shoot?
LaRita: Well of course, promotion was key for that shoot. This was my second shoot for my brand, and I plan to do many more photo shoots in the near future to highlight what I can do to gain a bigger client base here in Pittsburgh. But, overall, I wanted to also highlight and support some of the women in my life who are also building their brands and use them as models in the shoot. I wanted to shine a light on women uniting together to help one another build our own individual platforms so although it was a photo shoot, it was also a networking event as well.
You can follow him on Instagram @iamseton
Ta’lor: I so enjoyed being a part of your vision. What was the purpose in choosing yellow as your theme for this promotional photo shoot?
LaRita: I put so much thought into choosing a color theme each year when I do a photo shoot. Last year the theme color was lime green, and this year all I wanted to convey was my mood. When I see yellow, I think of vibrancy, brightness, beauty, joy, light, and positivity which is a reflection of me. I chose Point State Park because it’s one of the hottest locations for locals and visitors in the city. It’s the heart of the city and it represents all things Pittsburgh including the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ta’lor: The Point is definitely an amazing location for a photo shoot. Why are you so purposeful when it comes to empowering women?
LaRita: My passion for women empowerment comes natural to me. I love to see women winning because I have been through so much and I came through so much. I have learned a lot from all that I have been through as a single-mother and it just came natural to me to want to share my story with other women. I love to give back and my followers and supporters mean so much to me. One of my followers on Instagram was liking and commenting on so many of my posts that I felt it in my heart to give her a free hairstyle and just uplift and thank her for her support.
Ta’lor: Clearly, you are so much more than a stylist, you are an entrepreneur and a single-mother as well who is intentional about family first. What has been your struggle and your success as a mompreneur?
LaRita: What has been a struggle with being a single-mother and a business woman is just that, being a single-mom is tough. I do have support from one of my sons fathers, and I appreciate the support, but having teenage sons requires a lot of prayer from me and a lot of patience. I am constantly examining myself and the choices that I make because soon they will be out of the house because I know that my decisions impact them in every way. My success is in the work. I love what I do. I dream about hairstyles. I breathe this. I love the people I meet. This is my passion and it’s definitely LaRita Ray.
Ta’lor: As you know, LADYHOOD journey is all about self-love. What are some things you like to do to take care of you?
LaRita: I have to meditate just to keep my mind level-headed. I also fast. Sometimes I fast from social media. I will log off and not log back on for a full seven days, two-weeks, or even a month sometimes. Whatever it takes for me to get away from it all and clear my mind, that is what I do, so that I do not become self-absorbed and feed into the drama in this world.
Ta’lor: As a fellow mompreneur myself, staying out of the drama is so essential and I love that you mentioned that. So, what is the goal for LaRita Ray, the brand?
LaRita: Ultimately, I want to have two salons. I plan to open my first salon here in Pittsburgh, PA and then branch out into the city that I plan to retire in. I am planning to also start a non-profit organization for women. I am preparing to start a blog in the very near future and I am so excited for this season that I am in but I am definitely in preparation for the future of LaRita Ray.
Ta’lor: I am so excited to sit back and watch your glow up LaRita. Is there anything else you would like to share?
LaRita: Currently I have a Back-to-School Braiding Special that begins August 1st – September 10th. I do this special every year, but this time I am providing braiding hair for specific styles for adults and youth. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to see all the specials that I provide throughout the year.
LADYHOOD journey, is so thankful to LaRita Ray for sharing her story with us as a Master Stylist and Mompreneur who is clearly making her mark here in the city of Pittsburgh, PA.
More About LaRita
LaRita Ray lives in Braddock, PA where she runs an in-home beauty salon for men and women. She went to Woodland Hills High School and then received her certification as a Licensed Cosmetologist at Empire Beauty School. She is a passionate woman and mother who believes in women empowerment and uplifting others. Her favorite quote, “Life is a journey, not a destination,” has inspired her lifestyle as well as her Instagram name.
About Leading Lady Campaign
This Campaign was created in hopes of empowering women and girls to defy obstacles, self-doubt, and fear so that they can reach their dreams. LADYHOOD journey seeks to highlight, promote, uplift each feature as they share their professional growth, intimate struggles, passions, and their future goals in their journey toward success.
This Campaign will highlight women at every stage of the LADYHOOD journey as college students and graduates, prospective career women, mompreneurs, new and professional bloggers, small business owners, program leaders, and community activists.