West of Ninth: People, in their own words…

Kendrick, from Russell
Dec. 5, 2018
“I love poetry. I love to write and that’s why I carry my laptop everywhere. I do nothing but write my raw thoughts all day. My passion is poetry. It’s like music without the instruments. I love it. I found that passion when I was 15. I’m 23, now. I wasn’t out here in these streets, so I had to find a way to express myself. Instead of being out here, doing dumb shit, I decided to pick up a pen. I want to be able to talk about the subjects that people are afraid to talk about.

Being out on my own has been a struggle. I’m out here on my own, with nobody. I feel like nobody really is supporting my craft. At the end of the day, if nobody is supporting you, your passion will get you there. You got yourself. I have me and that’s all.

Do what you love, no matter what. If money never existed, what would you be doing?”


Tomira, co-owner of Trend Setters Hair & Nail Salon in Russell
Nov. 19, 2018
“When I had my son, it was a happy moment and it was a wake-up call. I realized that I had to teach this young man that he can do anything that he sets his mind to and be independent and not to rely on anyone to take care of him. Knowing that I had the responsibility of taking care of him was motivation to me. I was a young mom. I wasn’t 18, yet. I had to have the motivation to finish school and go to college. I went to college and still went to hair school, while I was raising this baby. I had to show him that if you start something, you have to finish it. Having him was a lot for me. I had to stay focused because I knew that he was watching.

Being a young mom can be very scary. I had gestational diabetes with my son, and I had to eat healthier and give myself shots. It was bothering his heart rate. As a young mother, it was a lot, and I was still in school. It was one of those moments where I couldn’t stop and had to keep going, so that I could have a healthy baby. He’s 19 and at Tennessee State University now. He’s doing very well and independent. Him watching me raise him and making sure that he was good taught him so much.

In 2013, I lost my sister. My sister and I were always close. Growing up, my mother would dress us alike. She passed away from a car accident, so it was sudden. It’s the worst, because we were caught off guard with it. When you go through something like that, it makes you want to give up, but you have to think about what your loved one would’ve wanted. Doing hair and owning a business is something that she would’ve wanted me to do. She wanted me to continue to do what I love and not to give up. She did hair, too. It made me go at it stronger and stick with it.

You deal with those things, but life goes on. There’s people out here that have goals and dreams and they need to know that regardless of what life throws your way, you can still follow your passion. You’re still going to have obstacles, but it’s all about how you come out. You have to hold on to the good memories. That’s how I move forward. You just have to think about the good times and be grateful for the close relationships you have with the people that you love. It makes things better because life happens.

Always have faith and never give up. We’ll always have our times, but you have to come out with your head held up. Have a positive attitude and don’t let situations shake your faith. You have to come out stronger. If you get down, it’s hard to come out, but you have to hold on to the positive things. Continue to show love to your loved ones that are still here. Don’t focus on holding grudges. You have to create those bonds.

My strength comes from God. It has to be God. I wouldn’t even give anyone that responsibility to give me that strength. My family and my boyfriend, who is my son’s father, are a great support system. They are my backbone. We just try to stick together.”

West of Ninth began as a Louisville photography blog, westofninth.com, by two Russell residents, Walt and Shae Smith. With a love for their community, Walt and Shae see the value and potential of all nine neighborhoods that make West Louisville. Armed with a Nikon DSLR, a recorder and the ability to never meet a stranger, their goal is to shed light on the attributes that make West of Ninth the greatest.