This local entrepreneur is helping people tap into the power of natural beauty

Makeup and face paint have been used for centuries across various cultures for a variety of purposes, from religious ceremonies to cultural events and social rituals. While the reasons for using makeup and face paint varied between cultures, one thing remained constant: the transformative power of cosmetics.

Today, makeup has become a part of daily life for many people, used to enhance one's appearance, express oneself, and even boost confidence. While the use of makeup has evolved over time, it remains a powerful tool for self-expression and self-care in modern times.

Rohli Booker with Aza Image Beauty & Brow Studio does a brow wax and fill eyebrow service for Toya T. in her studio.Rohli Booker, Owner of Aza Image Beauty, a licensed esthetician and brow aficionado, is dedicated to helping women everywhere unleash their natural beauty through education and self-care. With over two decades of beauty experience and a degree in biology and chemistry, she's not only able to provide exceptional services, but she's also passionate about teaching her clients why and how they should take care of their skin, based on their unique needs.

“You know, the spaces that you go into and the way you present yourself influences your interactions with other people,” says Booker. “It influences how you feel about yourself and how you project those feelings and how people interact with you.”

Gravitating toward her African heritage and pulling inspiration from the principles of Kwanza, Booker chose Aza, the Swahili name meaning “powerful”. 
Rohli Booker, Owner of Aza Image Beauty & Brow Studio at 5900 West Jefferson Blvd. Suite 23 in Fort Wayne, IN.
“Some people may see grooming and beautification as vanity,” she says, “but a woman’s beauty and a man’s image can be a powerful tool– internally and externally.” 

Growing up in Fort Wayne, Booker was heavily influenced and inspired by her mother and especially her grandmother who she says were both strong and independent women. 

“My grandmother was one of the first examples of an entrepreneur that I had,” she says.

Along with owning a restaurant on Pontiac Street, Booker’s grandmother would also grow and can produce to sell at the local farmer’s market on Warsaw Street. 

Booker reflects fondly on the time and says, “My grandparents would rent land and they would grow these huge gardens and bring me, my brothers, and cousins out while they would work. Once I was old enough, and she realized I was pretty fast with numbers, she would let me help out, handling money and giving customers change.” 

Booker says it just made sense for her to embark on her own entrepreneurial journey.

“This was nothing new to me,” she says. “This is what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to have a side hustle or business or something.”

Rohli Booker with Aza Image Beauty & Brow Studio does a brow wax and fill eyebrow service for Toya T. in her studio.In 2019, after working with Mac Cosmetics in Indianapolis for over a decade and exploring social work, she made the transition to full-time entrepreneur– just months before the pandemic began. 

“It was just so scary because the work I do is so personal,” says Booker. “I’m right in people’s faces and spaces. My mom was afraid of me getting sick, being so close to people, and of course the uncertainty of income.”

Despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Booker stayed the course and found small ways to stay safe and keep her business afloat, like developing a loyalty program and promoting her services on social media through a series called “31 Days of Makeup.” 

Rohli Booker with Aza Image Beauty & Brow Studio checks the brow symmetry.As she navigated the pandemic, Booker spoke with fellow entrepreneur Laneisha Bennett and decided to enroll in SEED Fort Wayne’s Build Institute Program in 2020. The Build Institute is a nine-week, cohort-based class for early-stage entrepreneurs opening small businesses in Fort Wayne.

“It gave me the steps on how to expand and add to my business,” she says. “At the time I didn’t have a retail space. I think it was a great experience, it helped me on deciding on the numbers and how to do that.”

Aza Image Beauty opened its physical space in 2021 and is now located in Sola Salons at Jefferson Pointe Shopping Center. Having her own retail space has allowed her to set the vibe, and provide a warm and personalized experience to her customers. Booker describes her aesthetic as a combination of feminine and powerful.

Rohli Booker with Aza Image Beauty & Brow Studio does a brow wax and fill eyebrow service for Toya T. in her studio.“I think that one of the primary reasons my customers come back to me is our relationship,” says Booker. “They ask me about my boys, and I’m asking about their kids and we talk about it. I go through things with them in their life, but they go through things with me too.

She currently offers an assortment of beauty services, like skincare and massages for both women and men, but her specialty is brows. 

“Brows are so impactful to people's overall look,” says Booker.

Despite an abundance of social media makeup artists and beauty influencers sporting the trendiest looks she says she encourages her customers and followers to be their own #browgoals. 

Rohli Booker with Aza Image Beauty & Brow Studio does a brow wax and fill eyebrow service for Toya T. in her studio.“I like to invite people to come in and not just get services, but to learn,” says Booker. “I’m doing your brows but I’m also talking to you about your skin and offering tips to improve your overall care.”

Booker hopes that growing her business will mean she can expand further on the educational aspect of her services, as well as create an inviting and inclusive space for guests within her private studio. 

“I’m working on creating more digital content,” she says. “I really love teaching women, who are my age– I’m 43, and older how to enhance their beauty. When I was in high school you were ‘fast’ if you wore makeup, so a lot of us don’t have the basic knowledge of even taking care of our skin.”

Client Toya T. checks out the finished work by Rohli Booker with Aza Image Beauty & Brow Studio after a brow wax and fill eyebrow service.She says that while she may not have done everything right at the start of her business, she is glad that she did start and hopes other entrepreneurs, especially young ones, are able to take advantage of opportunities like the Build Institute. 

Follow Aza Beauty Image on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.

This story is made possible by SEED Fort Wayne. Learn more about the Build Institute program by visiting their website or contacting [email protected].
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Read more articles by Desaray Bradley.

Desaray is expecting to graduate from Purdue University Fort Wayne in the spring of 2021 with a bachelor's degree in Communication: Media and Culture and a minor in Public Relations. She enjoys traveling, photography, and short story writing in her free time.