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Conversations with the Inspiring Shannon Lewis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shannon Lewis.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Shannon. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My very first job ever was in a hair salon. I was fifteen! I remember my dad asking, “Do you still want to do hair?” “I have a friend that owns a hair salon.” My exact words were, “Yes, but I don’t want to to work in her salon”. “She is going to fire me when ya’ll break up!” Ha! She didn’t! Working in my stepmother’s shop is where my foundation was built! Not only did I learn about hair, but also about fashion and style! Always come to work ready, but not just aesthetically. Come ready to learn, listen, and help. I started off as a shampoo assistant and worked my way up to a stylist! In between, I studied Cosmetology at Dekalb High School of Technology my senior year. In 2006 I received my full hours at Atlanta Technical College and my license in 2007. I thought I was going to be rolling in dough… NOT! That recession hit Decatur hard!

There was a lot of fear, doubt, and uncertainty. In 2008 I decided to explore another passion, so I enrolled into Bauder College and studied Fashion! Yes, I am a true fashionista, and I love all things beauty, but hair is definitely my first love. 2010 was when I refocused my interest in hair. I started to build a steady clientele. I also restarted my natural hair journey and stuck to it this time! Even though I still did relaxers and keratin treatments at the time, my clientele was mostly natural, like me (insert smiling afro emoji)! When I was presented with an opportunity to work at a popular natural hair salon that I had applied for in the past, I was elated to accept their offer! The transition was a little challenging because, as a new team member you had to start off as an assistant.

My clientele split up. Some were done at the house (mainly family and close friends), and some were split amongst my industry peers. After months of extensive training, I was ready to hit the floor! This is where I truly developed my niche and perfected my craft. This was a high volume salon, so you got plenty of practice! They were also big on continuing education. I worked at this popular Atlanta Salon for five years! I built a solid loyal clientele that followed me to my latest endeavor, and on July 18, 2018, I opened my doors to SL Hair Studio! I am in a single chair salon suite, and I love it!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My overall experience has been smooth for the most part. I thought it would be challenging working in a suite by myself, but my clients and I both appreciate the privacy and peace. Being your own boss can come with a few struggles of its own. Everything from marketing, to inventory, salon upkeep, salon licensing, and more is all on you. Staying motivated and focused is the key! I still socialize and exchange ideas with other suite owners in the building! Some of them I knew prior to starting, and others I met after! I get a lot of referrals from suite renters, and I also refer my clients out to them as well. I enjoy working around these creative individuals!

My advice to up and coming beauty professionals would be to have patience. Don’t be afraid to start from the bottom and work your way up, that’s where we all began. Be strategic about choosing your place of work. Each opportunity should move you in the direction of your goals. Build strong relationships with your industry peers, and explore your talents and find your niche. Having a specialty will help you to narrow down your target market, and attract the customers you really want, PLEASE continue to take financial classes throughout your career, and get an accountant for taxes and legal advice. Lastly, remain focused, stay positive, and be a leader.

what should we know about SL Hair Studio? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a professional Natural Hair Care Specialist. I provide healthy hair maintenance and styling options for my clients. Most of my services include protective styles, such as flat twist, braid styles, two-strand twist, crochet, updo bun styles, and much more! What I am most proud of is that I am able to help black women on a daily basis embrace, and feel confident about their natural hair. I have such a love and passion for what I do. What sets me apart from others is my tenacity. I am constantly in student mode, always learning and growing, individually and professionally.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
We live in a male-dominated world, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that the beauty industry is also run by men. This is a billion-dollar industry, and I don’t see them giving up their seat anytime soon!

Women are the center of the Beauty and Cosmetic industry, but yet we count for the least amount of leadership across boards and executive teams. Social media has helped many women level up and step out with their own beauty brands. Particularly in the natural hair industry, where many black female entrepreneurs have flourished with their product lines. I am hoping to become a part of that list of creators soon.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
John Washington Jr

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