Pekela ‘PK’ Riley is a nationally recognized freelance hair stylist, writer, philanthropist and rising mogul in the beauty industry. As a second generation hairstylist, Riley has accomplished a good deal and has styled for Crème of Nature national print advertisements and Sophisticate’s Black Hair Styles and Hair Guide Magazine. Riley recently conducted classes from her Hairspirations Advanced Career Academy, at the recent Bronner Brothers International Hair Show in Atlanta.

Here, Riley shares secrets of her success.

Have you always wanted to be a hairstylist?

I wanted to be a nurse initially. My mother was a barber, and I always wanted to be a nurse, I guess it was some sort of rebellion.

How did the rebellion come to an end?

When I was in college for nursing, I was a secretary at the college’s cosmetology department and I could not stay off the floor giving advice or suggestions about how the hair should be. Of course I was still doing my hair and my friend’s hair while in college, so I was always in it, I just didn’t allow it to take me over. Finally my boss asked,  “Why are you struggling with this Pekela?” and I thought, “Why am I struggling with this?”

What inspires you now?

Being creative and being able to bring out the best in another person. It’s like almost a ministry of sorts, you see somebody with all this potential and beauty, and sometimes it’s not maximized, but you see how to bring it out, and I really enjoy that part. I really enjoy when it’s done, just seeing that person’s confidence rise and seeing them as they feel better about themselves. I am really attached to the outcome.

Tell us about your Hairspirations Advanced Career Academy.

As a stylist for more than 15 years, I’ve accomplished many things, but I almost took the long way. It’s really no road map about how to do certain things … I found that everywhere I go, people wanted to know how they could be in the video set or how they could do freelance work.  I really, truly believe that there are so many talented stylists that don’t know their way. I have this experience, and I just want to share it to maximize [the potential of] my fellow peers and people coming behind me.

You can check out Pekela and her work at