We had a fun chat with AISSA VALDY, the young Senegalese entrepreneur taking the world by storm through her multi-dimensional initiatives. She’s a college student, hairdresser, model, and business owner! See what she had to say during the interview and don’t forget to follow her on her social media pages!

Name: Aissatou
Instagram: aissavaldy (business IG pages: @royaltyhairextensions_ & @beautybyaissa)

Aida: Can you tell us a little bit about your upbringing and background?

Aissatou: I grew up in the US as a first-generation Senegalese-American. I was born and raised in Cincinnati with two hard-working parents who showed me nothing but love and support. I’ve been to Senegal – the last time was in the summer of 2017 and I want to go back soon.

I am currently pending graduation with an International Affairs degree, minoring in Political Science. On the side, I’ve started my own hair extension line, work at a salon doing hair, ran for Miss Ohio and want to do an all black pageant next!

Right now, I’m applying for jobs before graduating and hoping to become a Business Development Volunteer for Peace Corps. I really want to be involved in the development of women and youth.

Aida: How did you get into modeling?

Aissatou: Modeling is definitely a passion of mine. At 10 years old, I started Googling different modeling agencies and giving them my information. They’d always be calling my mom (LOL) and she was like “You must really want to do this.” and I told her yes! So at the age of 12, I went to my first modeling agency and took some classes. But I would say all the gigs that people see me involved in right now, with the exception of the work I did with Randy Fenoli from “Say Yes To The Dress,” have been on my own; I am a freelance model.

Aida: Where do you envision yourself in 5-10 years?

Aissatou: My main goal is to be successful and to me, that really means happiness. I want to reach all of my goals. Hopefully married (LOL). My mindset is all about do everything now and be successful later. I also want to be able to give back – that’s really important for me.

Aida: Who is your role model?

Aissatou: This might sound cliche but it’s really my mom. She moved to the states before my dad even and she took care of her family while juggling work. She never gave up and she never complained. She’s definitely my role model.

Aida: What is your stance on women’s role in society?

Aissatou: I think the woman’s role in society is everything that’s not assigned. There are so many criteria that women have to meet by society’s rules and that shouldn’t be the case. When I think about the situation in Africa, for example, women don’t always have a lot of opportunities to be educated and exposed to the same opportunities as their male counterpart. Equal education and opportunities should be the norm for everyone, not just limited to men. Women weren’t just put on this Earth to reproduce.

I just think about if women didn’t exist – in a world where there was only one gender – who would do all the things they pin on us now, you know?

Aida: Why do you think women have had such a long journey to gaining equal treatment?

Aissatou: I think it goes back to the gender roles. And the thing is a lot of women believe in the gender roles. They think they have to abide by the rules. We have also given men a gender role and expect them to play by it. So overall, I think we just need to create a world/society where we’re not 100% prescribing gender-based behaviors.

Aida: If you could change one thing about society today, what would it be?

Aissatou: I would create equal opportunity. When I think about the life of an immigrant in the US, it’s not all the time that you can turn to your parents! They were consumed with trying to provide the basic necessities for their families so the luxury of having a paid education isn’t there. That eventually impacts the kind of opportunities you’re exposed to. So I really think this new generation of educated, first-generation members of society have a role to play, primarily with mentorship. To reach back and pass that wisdom and knowledge along to help the future generations so we can get to a place where those opportunities are more equal than more – to keep improving.

Aida: What is your life motto?

Aissatou: My life motto is “FINISH EVERYTHING YOU START!” I believe in resisting the urge to give up, no matter how hard it is. Even if you don’t finish in the exact way you envisioned, at least you accomplished it and you did you best. That’s what matters.

This was such a fun interview and we’re humbled to have had Aissatou share a little bit about herself and her viewpoints with us! I personally was smiling the whole time she was talking – she’s a bright force to be reckoned with!

If you want to keep up with Aissatou, follow her on Instagram (@aissavaldy). Thank you again for spending some time with us ❤

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