By Erickka Sy Savané
I must admit, when I hear of natural hair only salons, my first thought is, are there enough customers to sustain it and what can it offer Naturalistas, the queens of DIY? So when mom of four, and natural hair salon owner (The Loft Hair Studio) Sharita Payton reached out to CurlyNikki to chat natural hair, we figured it would be a great opportunity to ask her some pressing (get it) questions?
Here’s what this stylist of 20 + years had to say about switching her salon from all-purpose to natural hair only, whether she received backlash, and what she has to offer natural-haired women!
As a Hairstylist I see it all. I’ve always worked with a variety of textures, and although my clientele consisted of majority Naturals I had a good amount of relaxed and texlaxed clients. There was a big difference between my natural clients and relax clients, and even though I was always cautious with both… my relax client’s hair sustained more breakage and scalp issues.
The most important reason I would say I shifted my business is helping more women of color to embrace their natural textures. I feel the biggest reason we don’t is the fear of the unknown. Most of us are not sure what our natural texture is or what to do with it. I get people who sit in my chair and say they don’t even know what their natural hair looks like because their parents started relaxing their hair at 10, 11, 12 years of age. Many can only go based off of childhood pictures which is very telling of where we come from.
Do you find that there is a need for women to learn about their natural hair?
Did you see a decline or rise in clients after switching to natural hair exclusively?
|The Loft Hair Studio Clients|
Did you receive any backlash from clients for your switch?
I really focus on “healthy hair” in general, so I get quite a few referrals coming to me whether it be relaxed or natural. I had to turn a few people away, which was hard, but I explained to them my purpose and vision. So, over all, I received very little backlash. The little did not make me think for a second that I was heading in the wrong direction. Actually, the more I began to share my mission and goals as a Natural Stylist the more great feedback I received. The biggest question was “Why…”
To that I answer…it’s never been about the money for me it’s always been about my clients and me trying to serve and please them better… always! And the more I began to research, attend classes and experiment the more knowledgeable I became and so yes there had to be a change and shift as a stylist! I’m always researching and educating myself concerning natural hair for three reasons- I’m natural, my daughters are natural, the majority of my clients are Natural.
How do you get the word out that your salon is for Naturals?
Social media and word of mouth. Also because I’m Natural and I wear it proudly, many people stop me and ask questions about my natural hair.
|Deva Curl is where it’s at!|
What do you offer natural haired women as a salon?
I’m Deva Inspired, soon to be Rezo certified. I offer Curly Cuts, Curl detoxification (reset), Curl Refreshers, Twist outs, Braid outs, Rod sets, Roller sets, Up-do’s, Basic Braiding styles with added hair or without, Silk Press, Color and more.
Do you see many clients going back to relaxed hair?
Honestly no. Over the 20 years of being a stylist… 9 times out of 10 the clients who decided to relax their hair usually regret it and decide to transition and/or big chop again, from my experience. For some people relaxed hair is easier to maintain, but (most not all) people are left with thinner, unhealthy hair. I will add that there are a few of my clients whose hair has thrived with a relaxer, but that has not been the majority.
How much of your clientele is non-black women with curls?
This is probably one of the best and biggest shifts/changes in my business. My clientele has shifted completely and now I service all women with curls/textured hair. Caucasian, Indian, Moroccan, Ethiopian, Brazilian and more. Still predominantly Black, but I believe it will continue to shift. Once I was afraid to service anyone other than hair like mine because I always thought someone else could do their hair better… obviously that has since gone out the window. I have and continue to educate myself so that I’m able to service all women with curls no matter the color or race with confidence!
|Sharita (and her models) presenting hairstyles inspired by the 60’s for Black History Month in Providence, RI.|
What’s the best part of owning a salon? What’s the most challenging? The best part of owning a salon is having a flexible schedule because I’m a mother of four beautiful children not to mention a pastor’s wife (Plymouth Rock Holiness Church) and it’s my passion!
The most challenging part of owning a salon is finding balance because it’s something that I’m very passionate about! Also because I’m the owner I have to work “on” the business as well as “in” the business. When I’m not “in” the business working… I’m working “on” the business which can spill over into other things. I’m working on establishing boundaries and making myself “not” available when with my family.
Any final words?
No matter your Curl or Texture… Own it! The more you love on your hair/texture the more your hair will respond in a positive way. If you don’t take the time to “learn” your hair you will never master it. And that means taking the weaves and protective styles out… yes I said it. Occasionally, yes, protective styles are okay, but take them out and take time to learn and care for your natural hair. It will thank you for it.
Sharita’s salon, A Loft Hair Studio, is located 15 mins outside of Boston in Medford, Massachusetts. 16 Main Street 02155 Follow her on Instagram
Do you go to natural hair only salons to keep your girls poppin?