Going viral can double-edged sword. It can be for negative reasons (for brands like H&M) or positive ones. Such is the case for 23-year-old Charlotte resident Shia Yearwood, who literally turned a bad situation into a business opportunity.
On Jan. 3, Shia was arrested and charged with violating a domestic protective order in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. When her mugshot was posted to the county's records, it was then shared by the Twitter account @CharlotteMugs, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Despite the initial drama, Shia received a silver lining — publicity for her growing braiding business. “When I found the post on Twitter, I retweeted it and hashtagged #BraidsByShia,” she explains. “I was just simply showing people that I had nothing to be ashamed about. I thought I looked good and I thought my braids looked amazing — they were literally done two hours prior to the mugshot.”
Fortunately for her, positive responses started rolling in. Tweets like “They tried to blast you little do they know they gave you a platform to expand your clientele” and “the way you turned shade into a marketing opportunity is a great moment in Black a Twitter History" made their way online.
4,528 retweets and 8,966 likes later, #BraidsByShia gained some serious momentum. Initially, the response had Shia taken a bit by surprise. “When I first saw that my mugshot was getting retweeted so much I just thought my friends and clients were being funny. I thought they were just helping me promote like any other time, because my mugshot promoted my own [work].
"At first, I was a little embarrassed that it was getting attention because I didn’t want people to think I was taking being arrested as a joke. Instead, I saw it as a lesson and an opportunity to show off my skills," she explains.
Despite her young age, Shia has been braiding hair for over 15 years. She credits her grandmother and godmother for helping her hone her skills despite not being enamored with the craft at first.
"To be honest, I wasn’t quite interested in braiding because I use to do micros, and they took way too long to do. Then, I learned to do the Poetic Justice braids when I was experiencing hair loss after my daughter was born. I got a good reaction from family and friends. Because I was a young mom with no money for daycare, I did hair to just make a little money to get her [the] essentials."
Since her mugshot, Shia has also seen an uptick in business. "I have definitely seen an increase in inquiries since my tweet. Really, more so in support of what I do and how I turned my situation around."
Her advice on going viral? "No matter what, if you stay true to who you are and what you believe in you will flourish. When people try to break you, stand up tall and proud and look people in the face — and don’t be ashamed! Own it and then flip it. The goal in life is to secure the bag and prosper."
As if you needed another example, Shia's here to teach you how to take lemons and turn them into lemonade in 2018.
(Photo: Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office)