Almost a year and a half since opening, a Norman salon is providing opportunities for Black students to get their hair done locally, thanks to a recommendation from a longtime client.
Beauty and Designz Studio Lounge, a salon co-owned by Natasha Coleman and Tracy Holman, offers a familial environment for all ages and ethnicities.
Located in Headington Hall residential college on the corner of Lindsey Street and Jenkins Avenue, the salon is a convenient stop for OU students and staff to get their hair done without having to commute.
Although they are pleased with their current situation, things were not always so easy for the two business partners. Coleman and Holman have both come a long way to establish what they have today.
Coleman has been braiding hair since she was 16 years old but decided to step away from styling hair in high school after the birth of her daughter.
“I kind of got burnt out, so I really wanted to go do something different,” Coleman said. However, she added, “After my daughter turned six, I was like, ‘I think I want to go back into the salon setting.’”
After stints with a couple of barbershops and salons, including four and a half years at her co-owned full-service salon His and Hers, Coleman left to work at New Black Wall Street Cuts, a barbershop in Oklahoma City, where she met her current business partner, Tracy Holman.
“The first day he came into work, he was dressed in a dress shirt and a bowtie and he had on dress shoes,” Coleman said. “Once he started coming in dressed like that, it made us up our game.”
Holman’s “dress for success” mindset originated from No Grease, a barber school in North Carolina where the dress code required formal attire.
“After going to barber school for a year, I learned that I like dressing up like us, so I just adopted the style,” Holman said.
So when Coleman was contacted by a current friend and longtime client, Francie Ekwerekwu, about a new business opportunity while working alongside Holman at New Black Wall Street, a partnership was formed.
“Francie was actually an OU alumna, and she asked me if I wanted to open up another salon. OU came and asked her because they wanted to support Black-owned businesses,” Coleman said. “That’s where we started, and a year [and a half] later, this is where we’re at.”
When university officials came to her for business suggestions, Ekwerekwu, a former student-athlete at OU from 2006-2010, stressed the need for a salon for those with ethnic hair on campus.
“When I was an athlete here a long time ago, there was nobody here that could do Black hair, so I knew they needed her here,” Ekwerekwu said.
With her help, Coleman and Holman have established a comfortable, inviting space for all ages and ethnicities to enjoy.
“I didn’t know if there was going to be a shop like this when I came to college, so this was a big part of me choosing to come to OU, knowing that I would be able to get my hair done without driving so far into the city,” said Lauren Simpkins, a freshman public relations major.