She discovered her love for the craft in 2018 while attending the inaugural Junior Barber Academy, a six-week training program led by master barber Prentice Michael Boone in West Philadelphia. Mind you, she was the only girl AND the youngest participant.
Neijae's mother Jaime Graham had initially encouraged her son to enroll in the academy, but he wasn't really interested. Neijae, on the other hand, checked out an introductory course and was instantly hooked. "I realized I wanted to become a barber," she told BuzzFeed.
Now the young barber splits her time between going to school, playing with her L.O.L. Surprise! dolls, and volunteering her barber services to homeless veterans and others throughout her community. "I like helping people to look their best," she explained. "It makes them feel good"
And while barbering is a traditionally male-dominated industry, Neijae's already met a number of women in the field who've helped to train and mentor her as she delves further into her passion and closer to a license.
Neijae's inspirational story speaks to the importance of acknowledging and nurturing a child's interests, no matter how unconventional they might seem. "Present your children with various opportunities and pay attention to how they respond," Jaime advised. "Their response will guide you."