Many of the entrepreneurs served by the City Bar Justice Center’s Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project (NELP) create important business ideas that present solutions to their communities’ needs. Among these entrepreneurs are husband and wife team, Moussa and Youma Niangadou, the founders of Youma’s Beauty, an online beauty store devoted to empowering women with curly hair textures through quality hair products.
In her prior career as a fashion model, Youma had experienced severe hair damage due to heat and chemical application to achieve society’s biased standards of beautiful hair. As a result, Youma made the decision to embrace her natural hair and empower others to do the same, creating a home-brewed mixture, ‘Hair Bloom Oil,’ that restored and grew back her hair, then began to grow her business through online sales.
In the early stages of her business, Youma, like many new entrepreneurs, sought the assistance of independent contractors and third parties to help expand her reach. The initial experience proved frustrating as she recurrently experienced the challenges of faulty agreements with outside parties. Youma knew that she needed to strengthen the legal foundations of her company—a realization which led Youma to contact NELP in 2021 for assistance with drafting independent contractor agreements to expand her team.
After applying to NELP’s direct representation service, Youma was matched with a team of pro bono attorneys from Latham & Watkins LLP. The team—Dyllan Brown-Bramble as well as Jason Ewart and Jennifer Pepin (who have since left the firm)—provided bespoke advice and drafted a template employment agreement that Youma used to hire a social media marketer and additional independent contractors.
Since initially reaching out to NELP, Youma has continued to work with the project in her efforts to expand “awareness and create solutions to end discrimination against natural hair.” Moussa, as Co-Founder and Global Director of Youma’s Beauty, has grown the operations of Youma’s Beauty in Africa by securing celebrity endorsements, retail partnerships and marketing campaigns in the country of Mali. Most recently, Youma successfully launched ‘Youma’s Natural Hair Workshop,’ a natural hair sensitivity and technical training workshop for hairstylists, and produced a film entitled The Natural Hair Struggle in Fashion Documentary which can now be streamed on YouTube.
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