PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - If first impressions are lasting, Hullema Reddick wants others to reserve their judgments upon first glance at her covered body.
“A lot of times, people think I’m from another country,” Reddick says. “At first sight it’s like, ‘Where are you from?’ I’m like, ‘Philadelphia.’”
Born into a Baptist family, Reddick now identifies as a Muslim woman. And, while completely covered, she is making her mark in the hair industry.
Her hands work magic: any color, any style, any haircut.
Reddick runs Hstylez, a hair studio in East Falls that caters to women of all stripes.
“I accept anyone,” Reddick says. “Whether you're Christian, Buddhist. It does not matter.”
As long as they respect her religion.
“When my clients are here, I don't wear my nikab,” Reddick explains. “They can see my face.”
She knows that looks can be deceiving, intimidating and even misleading.
“It’s just that I’m covered, that's it,” Reddick says. “My creativity has absolutely nothing to do with the way I look."
She proudly calls herself ‘the covered colorist’ and credits her faith for helping her turn setbacks into comebacks.
“I grew up in the heart of South Philly,” Reddick says. “So I came from the streets.”
That didn’t stop Reddick from pursuing her goals, though.
“Knowing what rock bottom looks like, it makes you want to go a lot harder to reach the top,” Reddick told FOX 29.
Reddick has now been a part of the Muslim faith for more than 10 years, and she wants others to know that there is more to her than meets the eye.
“I'm still a human being,” she says. “I do everything that everybody else does. I enjoy all of the same things that everybody else does.“
Being Muslim has taught her modesty in appearance. But in business, such modesty presents a challenge. The beauty industry, in particular, can prove an ugly place for acceptance.
Reddick describes a dismissive attitude on behalf of salons, stylists and even fellow Muslim worshippers who view her profession as a contradiction to her faith.
“Opening doors in the industry is kind of hard because people look at you like, ‘What are you going to come in here and do?’” Reddick says. “I feel like people have to be more open-minded. Stop being threatened by what you don't understand.”
“I don’t think it restricts me from doing anything,” she says of being fully covered. “Islam teaches us about beautification”
She seems to be doing something right.
So far in 2018, Reddick has already grossed over $100,000 in sales, runs a brand new salon and has a growing social media following.
“What’s your advice to younger women who may be trying to follow in your footsteps?” FOX 29’s Lauren Johnson asks Reddick.
“Do not compromise,” Reddick says. “Don't compromise. If it’s something you believe in, pray on it, and keep pushing.”