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Haneen’s Story

Haneen Farhan arrived in Cincinnati a decade ago as a refugee from Iraq with just $400, the gold she was wearing, and dream to make women feel good about themselves.
Haneen headshot

Now Farhan employs four people in her own Blue Ash day spa, named the Queen of Brows after the nickname her loyal clients bestowed on her. Farhan studies her clients’ faces to come up with the most flattering shape, then uses an ancient technique called threading to remove wayward hairs.

“I love to see ladies that don’t have much confidence they’re beautiful, but you make a few changes and they start crying because they’re so happy,” says Farhan, who believes that altering a person’s eyebrows is the biggest change anyone can make to their face short of plastic surgery. “I love this business. This is my home and my clients are my family. My chair has heard a lot of stories.”

Farhan, a native of Baghdad, had worked as a teacher in Iraq, but she always loved makeup and art. After resettling in Cincinnati in 2006, she was determined to turn her lifelong interest into a career, but it wasn’t easy.

“The first apartment I got, I was crying in the night,” she says. “It was hard for me. It wasn’t my country, I didn’t speak the language. I came from: really hard life overseas.”

But there was a clear path to success, and she ran toward it. First she studied English, then cosmetology. She mastered a range of skills, but the art of the eyebrow emerged as a natural specialty. Perfection Salon in Montgomery hired her, and she began to work with the Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleaders who came there for makeup help. Farhan proudly shows off past Ben-Gals’ calendars that highlight her work.

I met the best people ever here.
They encouraged me, pushed me up.

Haneen Farhan and her family

Though Farhan loved her job, she also felt the pull to own her own business. She saved enough money to open her own shop, then moved to her current location a few years later as her clientele and employee base grew. In addition to brow work, Farhan is licensed in a slew of cutting-edge skills, from microblading to lash extensions.

It hasn’t been all eyebrows for Farhan since she arrived in Cincinnati. She met her husband Ayman here – he’s also a refugee, resettled from Sudan, who coaches soccer and they have a precocious preschool-aged daughter named Julia. Along the way she became interested in real-estate investing, a business that fits well with her love of aesthetics and the hours of the spa. After taking classes and meeting investors, she and Ayman began flipping houses.

When she was still in Iraq, Farhan imagined success in the United States would be seeing her face on signs for her own business. Now, when clients arrive at Queen of Brows, they see Farhan’s eyes – and eyebrows – looking out warmly from the sign over her Kenwood Road business. She credits the people she’s met in Cincinnati, and her own hard work, for fulfilling her dreams.

“I met the best people ever here. They encouraged me, pushed me up,” she says. “I advise everyone, not just immigrants, to not give up. Many of us have a hard time but don’t give up. It’s a hard time for me, but I worked hard to achieve my goal and be a successful woman.”

Supporting Data

Of the more than 180,000 refugees in the United States in 2015 were entrepreneurs.
$ B
Is the amount that businesses created by refugees generated in 2015 according to a study from the New American Economy.

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