To Teaira Daniels, "with God, anything is possible"
In her words, Teaira Daniels has decided to make lemonade out of the lemons she’s been given. And she’s had quite a few lemons in her basket. Daniels is inspiring people everywhere with her newfound career as a hairstylist, and the most amazing thing about it? She’s styling hair from her wheelchair.
While she’s always loved styling hair — in fact, her mother used to say that she braided her dolls’ hair so much she was afraid it would fall out — she didn’t begin her career as a stylist. She says her mother encouraged her to go to cosmetology school, but she decided to pursue communications instead. While working as an intern at local radio stations in her hometown of Cincinnati in 2009, her 1-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Pompe Disease. Pompe Disease is a rare condition that causes muscles to break down, and Amariyah passed away within 18 months of her diagnosis. Because of her experience with her daughter’s illness, Teaira changed career paths from communications to studying to be a medical assistant.
But when she was only one semester away from completing all her classes, Teaira herself became sick with a strange and undiagnosed condition. She had severe nausea and vomiting and spent many weeks in the hospital. Doctors thought she may have had lupus, shingles, scabies… but couldn’t land on anything concrete. Meanwhile, Teaira got sicker, and eventually became paralyzed from the waist down.
Finally, doctors came to a conclusion: Teaira was suffering from a rare autoimmune disease called neuromyelitis optica. She spent several more weeks in the hospital, completing forms of chemotherapy and physical therapy and having multiple surgeries. While she was there, one physical therapist encouraged her to continue something that she’d always loved: doing hair and nails for friends and family members. Though many times she couldn’t even sit up on her own, she continued her passion, and when she was finally discharged from the hospital she was able to go to cosmetology school. Instructors there accomodated her by allowing her to sit in salon chairs and clients sometimes assisted her by passing her towels or things out of reach.
Teaira graduated from cosmetology school in 2017 and through Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities and her own GoFundMe page, she was able to secure a special wheelchair that enables her to stand while working. Daniels recently posted a video of herself using the special chair on social media, and it caught the attention of celebrities such as D.L. Hughley and makeup artist Theo Turner.
Inspired by Teaira’s dedication and commitment to pursuing her passion, people have encouraged her to re-open her GoFundMe page, this time in pursuit of a specially adapted van that she could use to gain independence and drive herself to work. Determined to be able to use the “gifts that God has given [her],” Teairia is now on the lookout for a full-time salon job, and has dreams of opening her own business as well. “My goal is actually to have a mobile hair salon that can be accommodating to all people,” she says. “You don’t know what the future can hold. I have to take one moment at a time.”