For Angelina Youghal, getting your hair done is not just about style, it’s also a form of empowerment.
“For me, as a black woman, hair is huge for my confidence,” she said. Braiding your hair is a style that protects the texture of your hair.It’s how I let my hair grow out.So it’s not just about confidence, it’s also about culture.”
But when Youghal first moved to Columbus, there were no hair braiders in town, so he had to drive to Indianapolis to get his hair done. Other women related similar experiences to her.
To remedy this, Youghal opened his own business, Anok Hair Braiding, at 1954 State Street in Columbus. In July 2022, the grand opening of the salon named after her mother.
Yo offers natural hair services, including all types of braids. Although the business is specifically for black women, she said she can work on all types of hair.
In discussing the challenges her business faces, Youghal said Columbus “doesn’t have people of color or enough customers.”
But the best part of her job is actually seeing clients come in and be happy with their new look.
“Looking at the end of the day and seeing a woman walk out the door so happy with her hair, it looks lovely. I mean, it makes my day,” Yeol said.
Her passion for knitting dates back to her childhood. When she grew up, she didn’t have a TV or games, so she and her other children built their own dolls and used yarn to create braidable hair.
Yol was born in southern Sudan. When she was two years old, her family moved north to avoid war.
She came to Columbus as a refugee in 2004, fleeing the sovereign state of South Sudan. Her family was brought to this country by the United Nations and sponsored by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
She is very grateful to Jo and Dave McKinney for helping her family a lot since moving to Columbus. Yeo said Joe was like a mother to her and was there for her during her birth.
Also, since I couldn’t speak English at first, I acted as an intermediary for medical examinations and business negotiations.
“She literally enabled me to open a business,” Yor said.
Another form of local support she may seek in the future is targeted investments in minority entrepreneurs (TIME). Anok Hair Braiding is not yet qualified as she must have been in business for at least a year to qualify.
Yor said TIME has been very helpful and provides a way to connect with other small businesses in town.
“I am grateful to be in Columbus and the welcome from the people of Columbus,” she said.