[EXCLUSIVE] Mushiya Tshikuka Talks ‘Cutting It: In The ATL’, Her Business, & Building Confidence in Black Women

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There’s a new reality television series on the scene. Its goal is to show who’s boss when it comes to the hair business in Atlanta. The show, “Cutting It: In The ATL,” focuses on the lives of five career-driven women who’s ingenious thinking and hard work has brought them together with hopes of taking over the hair care industry. The season has started, and with only two episodes in, the relationships among the cast members are highly questionable. But, their personalities are definitely set in stone and one of the standouts is the owner of The Damn Salon and Runway Curls, Mushiya Tshikuka.

The dark skin, kinky haired African goddess is a woman that knows how to stand her ground. Mushiya took her African pride and created a very successful salon, hair care products, and hair extensions brand. From Montreal, Canada to New York, the fierce go-getter has transformed the lives of many women through hair and soul pampering. She’s all about helping women understand the power within themselves. Black is beautiful. And, Mushiya is redefining one strand at a time, making sure all Black women embrace what true beauty is.

With this “New Era” in natural hair, Mushiya is on her way to becoming the next household name. She travels across the nation with her touring division, Taste of Damn, which host pop-up styling suites in cities like New York, Washington D.C., Houston, and Charlotte. Her upfront, don’t beat around the bush opinions may come off as arrogant. But, Mushiya embodies confidence and if you can’t deal, then so be it. As she believes ,”true women with true strong personalities are not intimidated by other women with strong personalities.”

STACKS Magazine got an opportunity to talk to Mushiya about The Damn Salon and “Cutting It: In The ATL”. What we learned is that it’s merely just passion that fuels her to what to make a difference in the world. This is why she chose reality TV…to make the biggest impact.


Hi. So, you’re from the Congo but lived in Montreal. What made you set up shop in the ATL? How long have you been in Atlanta?

I moved here in 2006. So, I’ve been here for about 9 years. What made me move to Atlanta? It was more about the real estate. We were looking for houses. The type of house that I wanted was $2 million, which is a quarter of the price down here [Atlanta]. So, we really moved based on that. I’m the type of person that I’ll move wherever. It really doesn’t matter because I can make my mark wherever I am.

Once I came to Atlanta, I was doing natural hair in New Jersey, New York. I was really working more in business development and hair was on the side. I never thought I’d make it my business. But, when I came here, I tried so many times to run away from hair. And, there were just certain people that will not let me run away from hair. I never liked doing hair. What I did like, and what kept me coming back, is being able to affect women. Transform women and build confidence in them. So, that really is my passion when it comes to hair. It’s a platform to build women.

A lot of women are not confident on the inside. A lot of women have self-esteem problems for whatever reason. I have discovered that I have the ability to put that confidence in women. Hair is just that platform. When I came here, I just decided to build a salon. In my head, if I was going to go there as a business, I wanted it a certain way. Very different from regular salons who just do hair. So, I wanted it to be an experience. I built a private salon, by invitation only. I fed the clients rice and scallops, desserts, etc. Then we put makeup on their face once their hair is done. Then we do a photo shoot for them. It’s just an experience, a kind of pampering experience. Within that, the type of conversations we have in our salons is so different from other salons. We have inspirational conversations. The energy is so different and it’s infectious. They leave here feeling like they can conquer the world!

How did you get introduced or asked to do the show “Cutting It: In The ATL”?

I was asked to do the show by the network. The network called for me to do a pilot. So, you know, I was unsure at the beginning whether I wanted to do reality TV because: 1) I don’t really watch TV. But, I’ve seen snippets of stuff that goes on on reality shows. I have just a distaste for how they made Black women look. But on second thought, it wasn’t just how they made Black people look, but how Black people made themselves look. At the end of the day, you have to take responsibility for what you do and say. At the end of the day, no one holds a gun unto you to make you do the things you do and say. So, I said you know what, I’m going to take that platform and utilize it to continue to build and grow and affect billions of women. This is our mission. To celebrate Black beauty. To celebrate natural hair. To celebrate the curly kinks of our hair. To celebrate Black skin that comes in a 122 shades.

Also, another reason I did it too is that they stressed to me that they wanted to show less women acting bitchy, catty and crazy, but more women who were about their business and doing business and that was important to me.

BELS: Well, I did have that question…did you consider any harm that could possibly be done if you participated on the show. But, you’ve answered that and just decided to take the risk…

Not just take the risk, but almost be the risk. The best way to effect change is to be that change. You understand what I’m saying. So, the best thing I could do is just contain myself and not be drawn into that drama. Or not respond in a manner that I would be embarrassed by. Whatever I should say, whatever I should do, I should look at it and say “Yes, I meant that. And yes, I did that.”


Who’s your bestie on the show? Who’s your arch-enemy?

I have the least issues with the strongest personalities on the show. Because true women with true strong personalities are not intimidated by other women with strong personalities. It’s really those that on the inside don’t have confidence, that want to seem like they have big personalities, that do and want to say crazy things.

I don’t have besties. It takes time to have besties. [laughs] I don’t have arch-enemies either. You have to love somebody first before you can hate them. And to love somebody, you have to really know them well. We haven’t gone through that time yet where “I love you” or “I hate you.” Both emotions are entirely too strong and too deep to have any of the above. But, I will say there are some cast members that I respect more than others.

You seem to be a head strong woman. Will we see any vulnerable moments on the show?

Probably so. You’ll see some vulnerable moments when it comes to the people who have the ability to make me vulnerable and emotional. I’m have a lot of layers to me and to get to me, I have to give a sh*t about you first. If I don’t actually care about you, you can’t tell me anything that will break or pain me. To feel that emotion, I first have to give a sh*t about you. You’ll see, it’s the people that I care about, that I love, that can actually make me emotional. You’ll see some moments of emotion with my husband. We’ve been together 14 years and we just celebrated our 10 year anniversary. But some girl around the way, that you know you’re trying to get to know says something crazy, it won’t affect me. It actually won’t affect me. I’ll start laughing. As you’ll see on the show, I’m constantly laughing at all the sh*t. I’m always laughing. They go through a lot of drama the other girls. And I always think it’s hilarious. But, I’m a very real person. So, while I’m getting to know people, you will also see that if I’m going to establish or create relationships, I wan’t them built on honesty. I don’t want to be surrounded by any bullsh*t by whoever.

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