Let’s ‘hair’ it for FAMU student and her styling business

Kelani Phelps is a student entrepreneur who owns Laid by Lani
Photo courtesy of Kelani Phelps


Kelani Phelps isn’t waiting to graduate to start her career.

Phelps, a business major, has developed a home-based business startup as a unique hairstylist.

 “My passion for doing hair began while I was in the third grade,” the Tampa native said. “I used to practice on the Lifesize Bratz Dolls and create little concoctions of hair oils to put in them that made the styles on synthetic hair last longer. I also made my first wig during that time,” Phelps said, “but a lot of my styling through the years comes from being self-taught with guided help from YouTube videos.”

With black women being the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States, it wasn’t hard for Phelps to find inspiration to help her create her business, Laid by Lani.

“I think about doing something special for us (college students). I understand that the market I cater to is mostly frugal college students, so my prices don’t go over $100. For example, sew-ins are usually $50, triangle box braids are $55 and so on,” said Phelps.

Phelps has had the support of friends like Zataria Ray, a first-year chemistry student, who also plays the role of a paying client.

“We’ve known each other since sixth grade. Kelani is dedicated to her craft. When she did my recent hairstyle, I was so happy with the way it came out. When I told other people about it, they could not believe she was a college student with no hair license,” Ray said.

What makes Laid by Lani different from other hairstyling businesses is her broad knowledge of various hairstyles and how flexible she is with her clients’ schedules.

Kelani Phelps and her “famous reusable wig” bag
Photo Credit: Kaiyah Clarke

Alexis Williams, a first-year mass communications student, owns an innominate hair styling business wherein, unlike Phelps, she specializes in specific styles.

“Kelani’s business is different from mine in the way that it is wide-ranging in styling and she accepts more clients than I do. I color hair and make wigs but Kelani has a name for her business and does the styling I do plus braiding, hair conditioning/treatment, natural hair and more,” Williams said. “She also has more experience than me and that is why she is my role model.”

Kelani Phelps has been successful in the start-up of her home-based hair styling business, Laid by Lani.

She encourages prospective clients to reach her through Instagram on her new hair page @laidbylani_ or on her personal page @kelanidanae.