For most people, having their mugshot splashed all across the internet can hardly be considered a career-boosting move. However, after hairstylist Shia Yearwood found herself on the wrong side of the law, many people were more interested in her appearance than her misdemeanor.
Yearwood comes from Charlotte, North Carolina; in January 2018 she was also 24 years old and the mom of two young children. Consequently, in order to give her little ones the best start in life, Yearwood was keen to earn some cash.
With that in mind, Yearwood looked to her own skill set for ideas. For one, she was good at braiding hair; her grandmother and godmother had taught her the practice when she was a young child, and she had been braiding ever since. However, Yearwood found the technique quite time-consuming and so had previously held off starting her own business doing hair.
Explaining her dilemma, Yearwood told BET in January 2018, “To be honest, I wasn’t quite interested in braiding because I used to do [micro braids], and they took way too long to do. Then I learned to do the Poetic Justice braids when I was experiencing hair loss after my daughter was born.”
And as Yearwood’s new hairstyle went down a storm with her loved ones, she decided to offer her talents in exchange for money. “I got a good reaction from family and friends,” she revealed. “Because I was a young mom with no money for daycare, I did hair to just make a little money to get [my daughter the] essentials.”
But just as Yearwood was getting her life in order, she hit a bump in the road: the young mom split from the father of her children. And as part of their separation, the pair then both acquired restraining orders against each other.
Yearwood claimed that her ex had subsequently reported her for breaching the domestic protective order. She said, however, that she had simply been attempting to spend time with her son, who had been staying with his father’s parents. As a result, she handed herself in to Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, where cops took her mugshot.
Soon after her arrest, Yearwood’s picture appeared on the county’s records. It was then picked up by the @CharlotteMugs Twitter account. And it was there that her image started to cause a bit of a stir online.
What’s more, judging by many of the comments the photograph received, it became evident that very few people were interested in Yearwood’s wrongdoing. Instead, many Twitter users were all abuzz about her braids.
In fact, the very first commenter on the post wrote, “Okay, but who did her hair?” However, the Twitter user probably didn’t expect the response that she received. That’s because Yearwood herself got in touch to tell her that she had braided her own hair.
Recalling the bizarre moment she realized her mugshot was going viral, Yearwood said, “When I first saw that my mugshot was getting retweeted so much, I just thought my friends and clients were being funny. I thought they were just helping me promote like any other time, because my mugshot promoted my own [work].”
And although the comments she received were largely positive, Yearwood didn’t really know what to make of them. “At first, I was a little embarrassed that it was getting attention because I didn’t want people to think I was taking being arrested as a joke,” she said.
However, thanks to all the attention, Yearwood spotted a chance to boost her career and give her children a better life. “I saw it as a lesson and an opportunity to show off my skills,” the young mom explained to BET.
So, Yearwood decided to retweet her mugshot alongside the hashtag “#BraidsByShia.” After that, the attention surrounding the image only intensified. In a matter of days, in fact, more than 4,500 people had retweeted the picture and nearly 9,000 had liked it.
Explaining her decision to share her own mugshot, Yearwood added to BET, “I was just simply showing people that I had nothing to be ashamed about. I thought I looked good, and I thought my braids looked amazing. They were literally done two hours prior to the mugshot.”
In an interview with Inside Edition in January 2018, Yearwood also explained, “I retweeted [the mugshot] because me and my friends were joking between us – like I [should] just clown myself before my friends find it and clown me first. That it was beneficial for me, because I felt like I look good in my picture.”
However, by taking ownership of her situation, Yearwood could never have predicted the positive reaction she would receive. “They tried to blast you. Little do they know they gave you a platform to expand your clientele,” wrote one supporter.
And after her brush with viral fame, Yearwood’s business thrived. “I have definitely seen an increase in inquiries since my tweet,” she revealed to BET. “Really, more so in support of what I do and how I turned my situation around.”
Now Yearwood has some words of advice for other people who find themselves going viral for the wrong reasons. “No matter what, if you stay true to who you are and what you believe in, you will flourish,” she told BET.
A determined Yearwood then added, “When people try to break you, stand up tall and proud. Look people in the face and don’t be ashamed! Own it and then flip it. The goal in life is to secure the bag and prosper.”