ST. PETERSBURG — Tiffany Trina Washington is more than just your ordinary hairstylist.
She has the ability to enhance beauty from the inside, improving the soul and spirit. Having lived a life of hardship, she empathizes well with her clientele giving her shop an almost therapeutic like atmosphere.
A native of St. Petersburg, Washington spent her formative years living in Manatee County. She decided to come across the Skyway Bridge to live permanently in the Sunshine City because she always felt this was her home and was looking to leave a world of hurt behind.
“I have had hardships,” said Washington. “I’ve experienced loss, domestic violence and the struggle of raising seven kids as a single mom. I fell victim to the streets at a very young age.”
Washington’s mother, Valaire, was not just a neglectful person; she was only a child of 13 when she had her. Not until she had lived through some hard times did she realize her mother needed guidance herself.
“By the time I realized the actions of my young mother were the result of tribulations, it was too late as she had passed. I was an adult by then and had found my own way in life,” said Washington.
After going through those moments of despair, she still did not have a clear outlook on life. It wasn’t until time spent in prison that she set goals and started turning her life around.
“The more I turned my life around, people and things began to fall off. It was a little hurtful. I then began to realize that with God I was never alone,” she said.
Washington feels that she is a motivator for others and in exchange they also encourage her. Not only does she try to encourage those who sit in her chair, she also has an outreach program for women in prison where she instructs a 12-Step and parenting program.
Coming from a place of experience, she is able to help those in prison with her story. She lets them know that while they are incarcerated, their children’s lives have not stopped. Their children will grow up with or without them, which can be a recipe for disaster.
Washington’s kids had periods without her in their lives; and although her children were mature enough to get through without their mother, their lives would have been less stressful with an engaged parent.
“But everything came together for them as they were built on the strength and values I instilled in them,” she said.
Washington’s heart would break when she heard the stress in their voices and saw it on their faces with the pictures they would send during her year of incarceration. She knew then that they needed her.
“When I came from prison and reunited with my kids, I relieved them of their burdens and regained my place as a mother. So you see I am a survivor,” Washington said.
Washington also let the incarcerated women know that when they get out of prison, it doesn’t mean they will automatically get their children back.
“I had a time in my life when my children were not with me and I had to go through the courts to get them back. God was truly on my side. The judge had given me a year to complete a host of classes, but I completed them so fast that I was complemented on being a model parent. I loved and missed my kids and knew that they belonged with their mother,” she explained.
Despite years of turmoil, her relationship with her children is strong. She credits the Almighty for their strong connection.
Diva and Dons
Washington has enjoyed doing hair as far back as she can remember. As a teenager, she learned to apply Carefree Curls and World of Curls with no formal training. By watching her stylist, she learned her trade.
After the “curl era,” she started braiding with synthetic hair. That is when she discovered she had a passion for styling hair. She began styling ponytails, Mohawks, Chinese knots, finger waves and French rolls with designs such as hearts and accessorizing with rhinestones.
“One of my clients commented on the fact that I really enjoyed what I did and had a lot of patience doing it. I loved it all,” said Washington.
As time went on, people would tell her what hairdo they wanted, and she could recreate them.
Whenever one of her children would want the latest hairstyle, she had no problems giving it to them. She was able to save a lot of money and her children’s hair always looked perfectly quaffed.
“When the kids are well kept, that is a reflection on the parents. Every time a new style came out,
I practiced it on the children,” she said.
Wanting to become a legitimate cosmetologist, she enrolled in Manhattan Beauty Academy in 2006 and graduated in 2011. “Yes,” said Washington, “it took me five and a half to six years to graduate, but I did it.”
Being a hairstylist is therapeutic for Washington because she has a chance to motivate and encourage people through her own experiences. It is her way of connecting with people, especially with women. They are not just her clients, they are her family.
Diva and Dons is a kid friendly salon. They have a certified child care provider on duty so that parents can bring their kids for as low as $10 per child.
Diva and Dons has economically priced services and a special going on for just about every day of the week. Mondays are called Monday Madness where a relaxer is only $40! Tuesdays are $50 sew ins, Hump Day Wednesdays caters to kids from 8-12 where services are only $25 and on Super Thursdays you can get quick weaves for $35.
She also offers V.I.P. memberships for $125 a month, which entitles the customer to four styles, one relaxer, one color and one treatment.
Salon hours are Tuesdays through Saturday from 9-7 p.m., and closed on Sundays. Mondays are by appointments only.
On Sundays you won’t find her at the shop, but you can find her and her family worshiping at Mt. Zion Progressive where the pastor Louis Murphy presides.
In the future you can expect to see a chain of Diva and Dons all over the Tampa Bay area with highly qualified stylists and certified caregivers on board trained in CPR.
“Whatever you set your mind to do, you can and will achieve if you believe. I am a dreamer who has made my dreams a reality,” finished Washington.
If you are looking to join a professional team, there are opportunities for booth rentals at an affordable price of $85 per week capping off at $125. For more information, or to set up an appointment, please call 727-641-1294. Diva and Dons is located at 3116 5th Ave. S. St. Petersburg.
Sometimes the best way to get the hurt out is to write it down. It is definitely cheaper than a psychiatrist. So that is exactly what Washington has done. In this next chapter of her life, she is a published author. Her books are fiction, but there are some autobiographical slivers in each one.
Her first book entitled “The Life of Mz Trina Through Revolving Doors” is a journey through the protagonist’s past. This book promises to entertain and thrill the reader with adventures, while inspiring with her strength and survival.
Her next book called “Tiki’s Diary” is a murder mystery with a twist. Taking place in St. Petersburg, a group of furious females led by an ex-mental patient from Glen Oaks psychiatric ward team up to seek revenge on the male population. The authorities are clueless because there seems to be no apparent motives. Readers beware: This book should be read in the daytime.
Washington’s latest book is titled “Expressions of the heart.” It is a powerful and inspirational book of poetry. It also comes with a bonus sneak peak of another title she’s working on called “A Gangster’s Tale.”
You can pick up copies of her books at Diva and Dons, located at 3116 5th Ave. S., or log on to thebookpatch.com.