Like many black women, Dana White used to dump her schedule for a hair appointment that could easily take all day. But then the auto industry union organizer moved to New York after a stint abroad. “I went to a Dominican salon, called and made an appointment. You kind of undo everything, because you know that on Saturday you’re getting your hair done. I canceled the brunch, ”she said.
“I got in at 11am, I was done by 12:30 pm and couldn’t believe it. I said, ‘I can meet you for brunch!’ I learned by watching, you know what? There must be a better way to do this. I just don’t have time to sit in the living room for four to six hours.
The timing was a revelation, and led to the creation of Paralee (rhymes with “happily”) Boyd Salon, named after his grandmother. The seven-day-a-week walk-in barber shop is aimed at women with thick, curly hair, predominantly African American, but also “we see a lot of Indian women, a lot of redheads,” White said.
With two corporate stores open, she now plans a nationwide rollout through the franchise in October, making her the first African-American woman to step into a salon business. The cost of the investment and other financial information was not available at the time of publication as the franchise backgrounder was not yet final.
White said she applied automotive industry “lean” manufacturing techniques. “In the same way you assemble a car on the assembly line, I applied these principles to styling in a hair salon. It’s not that technical, but the basis is the same, ”she said. There is a way to dry; a process for removing towels; a place to put the laundry near the tools.
“Lean manufacturing was a learning process. It’s about eliminating waste, ”she said. “Why do something in four steps when you can do it in one or two? “
It opened its first salon in 2012, in Detroit, around the same time the Drybar franchise was developing as a blow-only salon. “And I said OK, but Drybar isn’t marketing me. So why not develop a business model that caters to people with thick curly hair and see if I can do it, ”Boyd said. She opened her second salon in 2017.
The market is large and underserved, she believes, citing between $ 3 billion and $ 5 billion in annual hair product spending by black customers. “Most people have overlooked the African American hair salon market,” she said. “But those of us who attend, those of us who know we go twice a week and spend $ 55 just on ourselves,” not to mention the kids, mothers and aunts, “we let’s spend a ton of money. “
Paralee Boyd, White’s grandmother, was from Camp Branch, Ky. “She met my grandfather after the Korean War. They came to start a life here in Detroit, ”where he worked for General Motors as an electrical engineer. In Kentucky, “the opportunities for entrepreneurs were very limited. My mom and I are very close, my grandmother and I were very close, but neither of us were hairdressers, ”Boyd said. “I named her for her because of the culture she created at home, for her community.”
She admits that “Paralee” is not easy for customers to pronounce. “I thought about it at first, but they learned ‘Starbucks’. I wanted him to speak to my market. Paralee is an ancient name from the South. I was going to call it something like a Great Clips, but I wanted it to have a connection, and the connection with me was historic, ”she said.
“The African American women were ‘the helper’ and the barber shop was our country club. This is where we meet on Saturday and prepare for church on Sunday, ”she said.
“Well, we’re no longer using it, and we have our own country clubs. We no longer have time “to spend the whole day in the living room.