For 17-year-old Fisayo Quadri, being chic isn’t just about turning heads. It’s about accessorizing them for girls undergoing cancer treatment.
Fisayo said she hopes to make 1,000 headbands by December for girls at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a cancer treatment and research facility in Memphis, Tenn. Her teachers and mentors said it is an appropriate project for the fashion and community service enthusiast.
Fisayo, a rising senior at Charles H. Flowers High School in Springdale, calls her effort “Project CHIC.”
“I know that girls put a lot of emphasis on their hair . . . and many girls at St. Jude have lost their hair through chemo,” she said. “So I wanted them to know that they can still use products accessible to other girls; that they’re not different, they’re just as beautiful as those other girls.”
During her freshman year, Fisayo, who lives in Mitchellville, began making hair accessories. A year later, she launched Chic Confections Hair Accessories, selling her custom headbands and hair clips.
Fisayo’s passion for fashion is shared with what her teachers say is a devotion to helping others.
“I don’t encounter students like her every day. Students are very self-motivated and she’s not that type of student. She gives so much from her heart,” said Gladys Montgomery, one of Fisayo’s mentors and director of the school’s Academy of Finance.
Fisayo said she wants Project CHIC to not only help girls at St. Jude but also show others the rewards of community service.
“It’s important for people my age to know the [impact] they can have on their community by doing something small,” she said. “Our generation has so much to offer.”
Fisayo has worked with three local organizations, holding free headband-making sessions, in which a total of 115 volunteers have participated. She has about 350 headbands ready — each accompanied by a handwritten note from its creator.
Fisayo pays for the supplies using money from her business, allowances and a recent birthday.
“When I heard that she used her birthday money, I was floored — so much so, our company gave her a donation,” said Tanisha Peters, director of Camp Girls Rock, a summer etiquette school in Largo for girls ages 5 to 14.
Peters asked Fisayo to hold two headband-making sessions with her students; they made 140 headbands. Her next session is scheduled for Aug. 17 in Upper Marlboro.
Fisayo’s mother, Lola Quadri, said her daughter’s determination was evident when she was born three months early, weighing 1 pound, 5 ounces. Doctors gave her a 17 percent chance of living, her mother said.
In Yoruba, a language in Nigeria, Fisayo’s name means “God has added to my joy.”
When Fisayo isn’t working on Project CHIC, she volunteers by cleaning streets or in her school’s office. She plans to apply to college fashion programs.
“Sometimes, I’m like, ‘Ugh, Fisayo, you’re so ambitious!’ ” she said. “But it’s definitely worth it. . . . Don’t ever be afraid of something. If you think your dream is too big, it’s not.”