Kristy Griffith reveals how she maintained her business from prison
By Isanella Patoir
When Kristy Griffith was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison for a $1.1 million drug bust in 2020 at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), she was determined to make a change and turn her life around at that very moment.
The 41-year-old mother of five, a certified cosmetologist for almost two decades went on to serve her time ‘working’ in the New Amsterdam prison.
She revealed intricate details of that journey in an interview with the News Room; during that sit down chat she disclosed that being imprisoned did not stop her from pursuing her passion of being a cosmetologist.
From behind prison walls, she maintained and supported her family.
“That is how I maintained myself in there, I never ask family to give me any support, I used to do hair and nails for the officers and the inmates,” Griffith said.
She admits that serving jail time remained a challenge, especially being away from her children. While behind bars, Griffith’s first grandchild was born.
“During the pandemic, they did a video chatting thing. It is like every Tuesday and Thursday you get 10 minutes to video chat with your kids,” Griffith related.
She is the mother of two boys and three girls between the ages of 24 and four.
Now out and still following her passion, Griffith says to make up for the lost time she tries her best to be at home and spend time with her children.
“I was very family-oriented, even though I was in there.
“We all know it is a tough challenge, you just have to have the faith.”
Now, Griffith is on a path to change the lives of other women who are incarcerated while at the same time expanding her business. She was the first recipient of the government’s ‘Fresh Start’ initiative which assisted her to reopen her business in March 2022.
Despite her criminal background, there are still customers who support her but since her release, the majority of her customers are ex-inmates.
“When I came back, I had friends and the support of family was always there,” Griffith revealed.
She was only imprisoned for three years and three months. Her early release was due to her good behaviour.
“I learned to cope with persons, they got all kinds of persons in prison, they got the good, the bad and the indifferent,” Griffith said.
Not long after she was incarcerated, Griffith said she became a leader among the prison population, she even started running the prison’s salon.
“For a couple of months since the pandemic eased down, they opened back the salon and I was running the salon.”
She also fought for more access to phone calls for the inmates and just before her release, she volunteered to teach other incarcerated women how to do hair and nails.
“They ended up putting phones up in the dorms, so even night time you can make calls to your family but you had this card and your family got to put credit in it for you,” a proud Griffith said.
She is now calling for the relevant authorities to provide more activities for the inmates to occupy their time, noting that is a lot of idle time for the women.
“They have games but in some of the games you have to do a little reading and not everybody in prison could read.
“If they get more threads and needles and things to occupy their time that would be good because they have a lot of bickering and biting with the women,” Griffith explained.
She hopes her business will also expand and she will be able to employ people.
The name of her salon is Kristy’s Perfect 10.
“Perfect 10 [because] 10 comes in like manicure, pedicure, facials…everything.
“They have hairdressers, they have nail technicians but I do the full package, hair, nails, manicure, pedicure, I would even do massage,” Griffith related.
She explained that prison has changed her entire outlook on life.
“Your mindset is different. You’re thinking different. I learned to deal with persons better because in there if they had any problem I was the orderly so if they had a problem they had to come and deal with me and I had to deal with it before it reaches the officer,” Griffith said.
She is encouraging anyone who may find themselves in a difficult situation to always, “be good to yourself, keep to yourself, don’t let the same mistake happen again.”