The Side Hustle: Bangs & Braids

Feeling stuck in the mundane routine of her nine-five job, Hayley Davidson found a way to brighten up her life through embracing her life-long sewing skills and passion for styling hair. After months of putting in endless hours outside of her day-job, Davidson is now the proud creator of Bangs & Braids, a hair accessory company based out of Galt — and her story is an inspiring one.

“I had been a receptionist or administrative assistant at various local businesses for nearly 15 years. Just sort of doing paperwork, taking phone calls … I was in a creative lull and started to think, “maybe this is where my life is going, maybe I’ll be working in an office for the rest of my life. I just knew that wasn’t going to cut it for me,” Davidson explained.

“One day I was surfing through Pinterest and saw a girl with a hair scarf in, so I grabbed a piece of scrap fabric and tried making one for myself and I really liked it. That’s how it all started.”

Davidson began by sewing hair accessories for friends and family, and eventually decided she should be selling her work. She created the Instagram account, @bangs_braids and was thrilled by the positive response she received, which encouraged her to take her side hustle one step further.

“I opened my Etsy shop in August 2018, nearly one whole year ago. It has been really overwhelming and humbling. I’ve met some truly amazing makers and become part of a really cool community as a result,” Davidson said.

“I sell a variety of hair accessories through my shop. It started with the hair scarves and around that time, scrunchies were coming back in style full-force, so I started including them as well. I also wanted to make something for people who have finer or short hair, so I started creating top-knot ties as well, and they’re super fun!”

Davidson has just released her summer line of accessories, inspired by the tropical sticker book she uses to keep track of her labels. It is very bright and vibrant, full of bright florals, lemonade and popsicle colours.

Thriving in this community of creatives, Davidson remarked that the support she receives from local groups such as the Bossy Women Podcast and Etsy Waterloo Region has contributed to her success and made her work even more enjoyable.

“The Bossy Women Podcast supports female owned businesses and they’re doing an amazing job of it. I was lucky enough to get to sell my products at the “Not Just A Night Market” event they hosted in May.”

Davidson also said that her experience at the Etsy show was also a huge highlight for her because she was able to connect with other talented vendors.

There is another show in September called Made in Canada that Bangs & Braids will also be a part of.

Some people simply have a knack for making old things new again, and Davidson has a unique ability to turn used fabrics she finds at antique shops and thrift stores – things like bedsheets and pillow cases – into gorgeous, hand-crafted hair products.

“A lot of my hair ties are made out of vintage fabric. I like to give life to pre-loved textiles and save some fabric from the landfills. They’re just so pretty – I especially love the floral fabrics. I hate to think of them being tossed away, and it brings me joy to make them into something useful again,” Davidson said.

From a young age, Davidson has been cultivating her hair styling skills as well as her talent for sewing. Her hope for the future of Bangs & Braids is that she will begin offering hair styling to clients as well.

“I love how easy it is to just throw a braid in and change your everyday hair into a fun and different look. I would love to start doing people’s hair for things like festivals, concerts, date-nights and photoshoots. Even if someone just feels like coming over and having their hair done,” Davidson said.

On the subject of balancing her full-time job with her passion project, Davidson said that balancing the two kept her busy.

“It’s really easy to get discouraged because at the end of the day you do get tired … you just have to keep your eye on the prize and know that you will achieve your end result,” she said.

As of February 2019, Davidson has turned her beloved side hustle into a full-time gig, juggling a part-time job on the side to pay the bills. While there are still challenges, she is proud of herself for taking a leap of faith and offers advice for other makers hoping to do the same for themselves someday.

“Just keep putting in the hours when you can and don’t be afraid to call on your friends for help. A bottle of wine goes a long way!” Davidson said.

“It’s going to be really hard … but if you love what you do, it’s worth it. Bangs & Braids keeps me happy, and that’s important.”