On a sunny Thursday morning in suburba, I sat with two beautiful women, La Donna Sims and Markquisha St. Clair to discuss their new salon, what it has taught them and the triumphs and obstacles they have overcame in their lives.
Over mimosas and a delicious breakfast in a quaint little diner in Grosse Pointe, La Donna shares how the move has affected her. “It has opened up so much for me. Like [I think] of future things, like community things. The more I was there, I knew that it was something more; When the opportunity came up, it was like, WOW, I have all these visions. I love interior decorating, shopping and seeing beautiful things. I was thinking, it’s yours’ you can do whatever you want to do.”
Hope, comes at different stages of our lives and as I spent the day with these women and hearing their stories. This salon means more to them, than just twisting and styling women and men’s hair.
As a Black woman, hair has always been the center of my being. As a child, I remember sitting in my grandmothers’ kitchen while she “pressed” my hair. I reminisce on stories told by my her, how she grew my hair, (I was a bald baby) and that she would wash and massage my head every day until my hair started to grow.
Black woman’s hair is more than just the style. It’s culture. It’s connection and the rekindling of souls. Nostalgia, about Big Mama or Mama greasing your scalp, cornrowing or just brushing your hair. It’s sisterhood.
Across America, Black woman come to salons to lay their burdens down and be pampered; it's about feeling beautiful inside and out. Sometimes it about finding love, peace and hope in some of your toughest times.
The salon is centered in a loft with other adorable suites. Each suite had its’ own flair and personality. Their suite was colored in blue, gold and green, with a red chandler.
“The interior decorator was trying to change our colors. She didn’t understand the reasoning behind the colors” says La Donna. “The colors have meaning. She didn’t even know how the red chandelier would mix with all the other colors.” But they smile as they share that the owner shows off their suite to other potential small business owners.
There were women everywhere; Working in the suites to working on the suites. The owner even popped her head in and paid for a load of laundry for the ladies. “She is really supportive and wants to see you thrive” says Markquisha. “When we first met her at the meeting, she would say you guys do the hair and I will help with you with the other part of your business, and once you get your brick and mortar. I will be happy for you ladies.”
Society wants you to believe that women can’t work together or that it’s impossible for women to grow together in business. Small businesses owners make up 89.6% of the American economy according to sbecouncil.org. That’s majority of the American economic wealth and it includes stylist, nail techs or any unorthodox position that we take for granted.
Markquisha and I take some one on one time in a corner by the window, where the window pane is covered with beautiful flowers, each of a different color and small glasses, that bring vibrancy to the salon. You can tell that every detail was thought out and pondered over. Even the beautiful peacock fan that hangs from the wall seems intentional.
What keeps you inspired? “You can make it your own, you bring in your own flair. We provide our clients more. It’s more than just hair when it comes to African American woman.”. “Everybody has goals, every[one] has hair goals. We want to help people to meet their hair goals, we want to help them if they have scalp issues, etc."
How does this salon empower women? “It empowers women by showing them, that you can do anything you want to do. That we don’t have to be inside a box. You can own your own business. You can have anything that you would want. It’s about putting those things into motion.”
How do you want people to come in the salon and leave the salon? “I want people to walk in and leave feeling inspired.”
What makes you passionate about hair? “Being a black woman, I would wake up and go to sleep thinking about what am I going to do with my hair. I wanted to take that thought process away-so that our clients can focus on other things in their lives. So that they can focus on their health, their kids, their careers.”
What was something difficult in your personal life, that you had to overcome? “My hair.” Okay, elaborate, explain. “It was the first thing I would think about in the morning, and the last thing I thought about when I went to sleep. If my hair wasn’t right, it wasn’t a good day. It didn’t feel good to always have that on my mind, if my hair wasn’t right, I didn’t think I was pretty or I felt less than.”
How would you say you overcame that? “The big chop, when I cut my hair off, to not even two inches. I thought I was going to be upset and it was emotional but then I thought I can get up and go now. I started thinking about others things, like my health, my children although they are grown, I still want to do things with them. It made me think about future goals, travel and to own land. It took that thought process away that I had for decades.”
What has having your own business taught you? “It’s important to be inspiring and do what you want and not do it for the money but doing it because it’s your passion.”
What are the goals for the salon? “In five years, more community building and helping everyone. [Eventually], having land. Living and working off the land. We want to help everyone regardless of race because in the end, we all need each other.”
What sets HairGoals apart from other salons? We want to be able to help our clients improve their lives. Natural hair is bonding. Our Creator knew that we would need help getting through “kinks” in our lives. It takes time to get through those kinks, so it’s bonding time. You can talk with your client and help to work out the “kinks” in their lives.
How does it feel being a businesswomen/business owner? It hasn’t even sunk in, like that,” she says. “it’s doesn’t feel like work, because I am feeling like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.”
After my conversation with Markquisha, La Donna’s client, Kavivi, a Kenyan woman came in to get her beautiful locs twisted and styled. She spoke of her adventures in Kenya and growing up there. We spoke of relationships, friendships and a million other things.What stood out about this woman was her tenacity and drive to achieve her goals no matter the obstacle she faced.
She was diagnosed with a rare lung cancer and ovarian cancer while attending Nursing school. She didn’t allow that to stop her from nursing school. "I would go to class and work, while still going to chemo;“I’ve had over 100 chemo treatments” she says," I just believe that I will achieve it. I know that God will grant me those desires."
While attending nursing school, one of her professors told her to apply for a grant. “I wasn’t going to do it because I was in my last semester of Nursing School, but I did it anyway, [with much apprehension and scrunity] but I got it. $1 million dollars to go to school. My schooling is paid for."
Of course, we all are in awe. I’ve never heard of such a grant being so much.
“I had different schools clamoring for me. I was the anomaly. If anything crazy is going to happen, it’s going to happen to me." she continues, "I have a rare lung cancer but I also have two autoimmune diseases. One deals with your connectivity tissue encasing your organs. When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it didn’t spread because my connectivity tissue encased it”.
Talk about blessings!! I left the salon feeling so full, empowered and inspired to continue to hone in on my own craft and strive to continue to do the work that I have been placed on this earth to do.
If you’re ever in the Detroit area, and looking for a natural hair salon. Check them out. @Hairgoals313 on Instagram and Facebook.