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  • Writer's pictureMickey Carolan

Coffee with a CODA: Kisa Powell




Good Morning My Friends!


This month's Coffee with a CODA guest is Kisa Powell. We crossed paths on Instagram and I was ecstatic to have her as a guest.


In this edition you'll find:


  • Kisa's interview

  • A Note from Me

  • Book Recommendation

 
Q: Please introduce yourself. Who is Kisa Powell?

A:  Hey there! I'm a deaf-friendly curly hairstylist based in Birmingham, Alabama, and my salon is known as CodaCurls. Growing up, both my parents were deaf, so sign language became my first language right from the start—I was signing away at just six months old! It wasn't until I hit preschool that I realized our family was a bit different. Imagine my surprise when my classmates couldn't understand sign language! That's when I got introduced to speech therapy, from preschool to fifth grade.


Growing up, my dad was a minister for the deaf, which meant every summer was an adventure. We’d hit the road, crisscrossing the South to visit every deaf church week and connect with the local Deaf community. After high school, I took a different path and joined the military, serving in the National Guard with a specialization in fiber optic repair.


Unfortunately, my military career was cut short by an injury during my deployment in Afghanistan. But every setback is an opportunity, right? So, I returned to my first love—hair. I poured my heart and soul into my craft, determined to bridge the gap between the beauty industry and the Deaf community. It’s a journey of passion and purpose, and I’m committed to making the beauty world a more inclusive place for all.

 

Q: What is the most common first question you get when people find out you grew up with Deaf Parents? And how do you reply?

A: Oh, the most amusing question has to be when folks ask me if my parents can read Braille! Obviously not. But the one I get most often is whether my parents know how to read, drive, or even how I learned to talk. Of course, they can read and drive like anyone else. As for talking, well, I usually explain that I was already fluent in a different language—sign language! So, learning spoken language was just another step in my bilingual journey.


Q: What advice would you give younger KODA/CODA’s? Conversely, what advice should they ignore?

A: The advice I would give younger codas is it might seem like a burden at first, but it is a hidden skill that you can use In different aspects of your life. You can use it to be an entrepreneur, you can use your skill to be a caretaker, you can use your skill to teach others.


My advice to you is this: While it might feel like a heavy load to bear at first, being a CODA is actually a superpower in disguise. Embrace it! See, you can wield your unique skill in so many areas of life—you could be an unstoppable entrepreneur, a compassionate caretaker, or even a mentor sharing your wisdom with others.

Ignore that nagging feeling of being all alone. Trust me, you’re not! There’s a whole community out there, filled with other CODAs just like you. Don’t hesitate to reach out, connect, and share your experiences. Together, we can navigate this journey and support each other through the ups and downs of growing up in a world that sometimes feels out of sync with our family dynamics.

 

Q: What have you learned from being a CODA has helped you be so successful as a Hairstylist?

A:  Being a CODA has given me a unique perspective on the beauty industry and the changes it needs. It’s taught me to see beyond the surface and understand the deeper struggles faced by my clients and those around me. Growing up with deaf parents has instilled in me a profound sense of empathy and compassion, which I bring to every interaction. It’s not just about styling hair; it’s about understanding and connecting with people on a deeper level, acknowledging the challenges they face every day, and helping them feel seen and heard. 



Q: What is one leadership, life, or love lesson that you learned from your parents?

A: Compassion and understanding goes a long way.

 

Q: What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

A: Growing up, my dad had a clever way of nurturing my love for reading. He’d give me some money and I’d go to the book fair. But instead of gravitating towards the classics, I was drawn to the whimsical world of comics. I devoured everything from “Dogzilla” to “Cat Kong” and, of course, “Captain Underpants.” And I was always sneaking away with my dad’s stash of X-Men and Wolverine comics—those were like hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. So, while I might not have a particular book I’ve given as a gift, those childhood comics certainly left an indelible mark on me, sparking my imagination and setting me on a path of endless creativity.


 

The Mom Dad Not Hear Lightning Round


Q: Safest driver?

A: Dad


Q: Most flavorful cook?

A: Dad


Q: Who could do your hair the best growing up?

A: Nobody !!! Curly hair is a struggle 


Q: Deaf School?

A: Both 


Q: Mainstream Public School?

A: none 


Q: Lastly, please tell the readers where they can connect with or follow you.

A: Instagram and Facebook: @codacurls

 

Author's Note

Wow! There are so many gems in this from Kisa that I enjoyed. First things first, I'm grateful for her service to our country. Secondly, being married to a talented Hairstylist, I understood Kisa's perspective on the industry.


Here are a few of my favorite excerpts from her answers.


"That's when I got introduced to speech therapy, from preschool to fifth grade." - so relatable as I was in speech therapy until I was eight years old.


"While it might feel like a heavy load to bear at first, being a CODA is actually a superpower in disguise. Embrace it!" - exactly why I often say "Heavy are the Hands that bear the signs."


"It’s not just about styling hair; it’s about understanding and connecting with people on a deeper level, acknowledging the challenges they face every day, and helping them feel seen and heard." - I've seen it first-hand, Hairstylists bring joy daily to people.


 

This week's Book Recommendation



 

Visit www.MickeyCarolan.com to read Mickey's books or book him to speak!



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