Wed | Jun 7, 2023

Megan Holung: From roadside hairdresser to university student

Published:Friday | February 18, 2022 | 12:07 AMOlivia Brown/Gleaner Writer
Megan Holung’s handiwork.
Megan Holung’s handiwork.

FROM A roadside hairdresser to a budding entrepreneur, copping a scholarship and now a final-year university student; Megan Holung, 21, is basking in her success, and triumph over adversities.

Holung told The Gleaner that the death of her father, the breadwinner, dwindled the family’s earnings, which propelled her to tap into her creativity to help sustain her family.

Holung, who graduated from Glenmuir High School in Clarendon with a total of 17 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advance Proficiency Examination (CAPE) subjects, said doing braids along the roadside as a teen in May Pen stemmed from a low moment in her life.

“After the death of my father, my mother had no choice but to turn to the streets of May Pen to sell fish from an igloo to sustain the family as she became the sole breadwinner,” she said. Citing her mother’s vending journey as arduous, Holung said she decided she had to help, as funds were still meagre. That decision, however, opened up a pool of ridicule, as she was mocked for leaving a “top school” to become a roadside hairdresser.

“That year included bittersweet moments because even though I had individuals that were extremely proud of me, I was still ridiculed by some of my schoolmates for doing hair on the roadside. The struggles were unyielding as I’d have to walk and beg people to plug in my kettle to do the finishing touches on the braids,” she said.

With a goal in mind, however, she remained undaunted by the criticisms. “Statements such as ‘Dunce she dunce mek she a do hair pan roadside’ and ‘She leave Glenmuir fi turn roadside braider’ from my schoolmates tried to deter me, but went in vain as I knew what I wanted,” a confident Holung told The Gleaner.

The long-awaited university scholarship that did not materialise early enough was an extra push for Holung to make an income.

“The people making the comments couldn’t pay my tuition or assist my younger brothers. I have a strong mindset and I knew what I had to do to better myself and assist my mother. Their comments were merely small talk because I graduated as an outstanding achiever,” she added.


Holung started her business, Braids by Meg, in 2018; a venture she is proud of, and commends herself for taking the step. “I needed a business that required little to no start-up capital, so I ventured into the hair industry where my only requirements were my hands, God, and a few products.”

She admitted that doubts lingered as she thought people would be sceptical about getting their hair done along the roadside, but she pressed on, and was enthused as her clientèle expanded over the years. “Passersby would inquire about my work and book appointments. In my first year of college while I was on the dorm, that’s when my business took off, moving from overlooked to overbooked,” said an enthused Holung.

Holung is currently a final-year student at The University of the West Indies, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in tourism management and management studies. She is also named among scholars on the faculty of social sciences’ Dean’s List for 2021, and a full-time student athlete. She lauded her family as her support system when quizzed on how she balances work and school.

Referencing naysayers and initial comments citing her cosmetology skills as mediocre, Holung maintains that having a skill unearths other benefits than becoming self-employed.

“[Skills] also facilitate personal growth as they come with experiences no teacher can teach. No matter what job you find yourself in, your employer will expect you to have a strong work ethic and professionalism, which I developed over time, having to deal with clients of different personalities daily,” she said.

She praises her business as the source to her independence, and a better life for her family. “I’m coming from going to school without lunch money and no one knew, to now assisting my mother with sending my younger brothers to school. I have a far way to go but I’m proud of the woman and business owner I am thus far,” Holung told The Gleaner.

“My motto is ‘God business, good business’ because all it took was patience and God’s grace.”

Braids by Megs can be found on Instagram @braidsby_meg.