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The University Star


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Biology student balances studies and her studio

Kobe Arriaga
Biology senior Ali Jallow showcases her in-apartment studio, The Doll Studio, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, in San Marcos.

As a freshman during the height of COVID-19, Texas State student Aji Jallow, a biology senior, began installing wigs in the lobby of her dorm. By word of mouth, her business, The Doll Studio, grew quickly.

By the time she came to San Marcos to attend Texas State, Jallow had experience installing wigs and providing protective styles: locs, passion twists and braids and maintenance for those styles. She started doing hair when she was 16 years old and began The Doll Studio when her friends encouraged her talents and spread the word about her services.

“I started making wigs, and then I started installing wigs on people,” Jallow said. “I was like, ‘I could probably make some money with this.’ My friends would also tell their friends and they would say, ‘You know you could really make a business out of this,’ …I was so reluctant about it.”

At first, Jallow said she struggled to balance her business while being a full-time student and being involved in on-campus organizations during her freshman and sophomore years. After taking too many clients to do any schoolwork or socialize with friends, Jallow learned to manage her time before her junior year. Now, she only accepts clients on weekends or days when she has no classes at all.

“My busiest days I know for sure I’m not doing any hair, and if I have to I’m taking maybe one client, and that [will] already be three hours out of my day,” Jallow said. “If I have a busy day, just full of classes, especially if I am going to the library after that, I’m making sure that I’m taking no clients.”

Another client and close friend of Jallow, Savanna Thompson, a psychology senior, has witnessed Jallow’s business grow throughout their time together at Texas State. Thompson said Jallow’s passion for The Doll Studio and her big heart are obvious to not only her peers but her clients.

“When I lived with her, I could just see the workload that she carried balancing school and her business,” Thompson said. “Throughout it all you could never really tell that she was stressed or that she had a lot going on. She always keeps a smile on her face and she’s always super nice to all of her clients.”

Jallow said Texas State has significantly made her business grow, and now has nearly 30 regulars. Being able to network in her organizations, having a loyal clientele and being one of few women who offer specific services in the area, have made The Doll Studio grow in popularity.

“San Marcos [has] pushed my business farther than I thought it could,” Jallow said. “When I started doing hair I was the only one that was doing wigs out here that I knew of. Once I started to gradually build my business and grow my clientele… I felt like I [could] stay out here a little bit longer, just because I know that my clientele is going to be so strong and they’ll always come back to me.”

Jakira Rice, a childhood friend of Jallow, said Jallow’s determination shines through in her business endeavors.

“She’s very determined, she wants to get things done, she wants to always improve and is always looking for the way to make herself better,” Rice said. “She is always looking for new ways to make sure her clients always want to come back.”

Styling wigs isn’t the only thing Jallow plans to continue a career in. Since fall 2023, she had to get a job outside of The Doll Studio to fund physician’s assistant (PA) school. As a child, Jallow had a close relationship with her childhood pediatrician which inspired her hopes to become a physician assistant and one day open her own practice, all while continuing to do hair.

“[A stylist and PA are] just completely different,” Jallow said. “Knowing that I could possibly make so much money in the beauty industry…and at the same time I am on track to successfully become a PA, I want to do both. I want to be able to be the most successful I can be.”

To learn more about The Doll Studio and Aji’s services, visit @dolledupbyaji on Instagram.

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