The phrase "work-life balance" has a whole new meaning to working moms, especially single working moms. For most moms in the U.S., "having it all" doesn't come easy, especially if you don't have access to full-time, paid help, or parental leave, for example. That's why this viral video of a hair stylist working with her baby on her hip is so inspiring: it captures the reality of motherhood in the U.S. for a lot of women, and it's also just impressive AF.
Melek Ustunluk of Clifton, New Jersey, is an entrepreneur, a mother, and one seriously talented hair braider. She runs Mimi's Braids, a successful beauty shop that boasts famous clients like Travis Scott, Wale, and Allen Iverson, according to the shop's website. Recently, Ustunluk made headlines for an impressive show of mom-tastic multitasking.
After discovering that she was without a babysitter for her young daughter, Capella, on a workday, Ustunluk brought her little one with her to the salon and continued to work as usual. She told BuzzFeed:
My mom normally watches my daughter Capella, but couldn't take care of her that day. I couldn't cancel my appointments, so I decided to bring her with me.
Ustunluk's 15-month-old daughter has a tendency to be shy at times and can demand her mommy, so Mommy was forced to ask the client if he would mind if she held Capella while she styled his hair. And, fortunately, he was a great sport and had no issue with her holding the baby.
The video of her multitasking has since gone viral and Ustunluk told BuzzFeed that she posted it with the hopes of providing inspiration to other "single mompreneurs out there" who are also maintaining the delicate balance of family and a career day in and day out. She also explained why she captioned the video "A mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do," saying:
That's why I [wrote the] caption, 'Mom's got to do what a Mom's got to do. Sometimes we may miss a few steps, but us mothers make sure we climb to the top. If you have a dream, keep working towards it and never let anyone or anything stop you.
Ustunluk is certainly an inspiration. In 2013, she decided to follow her dream of becoming a professional hair braider, despite the fact that she had only $27 to her name, according to BuzzFeed. Fast forward a few years and she is running one of the most popular celebrity braiding shops and killing it.
Commenters on the post were understandably impressed by her skills. One person pointed out her talent and the joy of a young child, saying:
Sweet baby girl! This just made my night. I miss my baby just wanting to love on me, she's two and on the go! Some real talent braiding and holding baby!
Many others used the comments section as a platform to express their admiration for all of womankind saying thing like "Dope! There's nothing we women can't do," and "Women are everything." Others just shared their awe and wonder at her dedication, with one person writing, "You're doing amazing and I have so much respect for you!"
The braider has a large audience of working mamas to speak to with her video. The Center for American Progress reports that "women now make up half of all workers in the United States, with nearly 4 in 10 homes having a mom that is also a working mother." Finding a successful balance between work and home life can be difficult, but there are many ways to make it a more achievable goal.
Lisa Lacasse, vice president for strategy and operations at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and mother of four, told Fortune that her secret to surviving life as a working mom is to "do everything all the time." She explained that she, much like Ustunluk, forced her job to have the flexibility that she and her family needed:
I’ll go to work and spend 20 minutes during downtime finalizing logistics for summer camp. I’ve never asked permission for the flexibility of my job. I think women in particular need to feel more empowered to do that. No one ever told me to do it, I just did.
While this sort of flexibility may be more of a luxury than a reality for many moms who aren't in these sorts of leadership positions, creating the famous "balance" is necessary for working moms. Ustunluk is proof that it is possible, it just may take a little bit of creativity.
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