Some of Gainesville’s central businesses occupy the beauty and wellness sector, a community defined by care and craftsmanship.
To celebrate Black History Month, which commemorates the accomplishments of Black Americans in the past and present and lasts through the month of February, the Avenue has compiled a list highlighting some of the Black-owned beauty and wellness businesses in Gainesville.
Renew Transformative Skin Bar
When clients walk into Dreneigh Cobb’s Renew Transformative Skin Bar LLC, they aren’t just getting a facial – they’re getting holistic healing.
Cobb, an esthetician of 11 years and owner of Renew Transformative Skin Bar, is in the business of complete rejuvenation. Whether it be in the literal sense through her exfoliation or massage services or the figurative sense through stress relief, Cobb said she ensures every guest emerges from her skin care center completely refreshed.
“They leave out with a sense of renewal,” Cobb said.
Renew, located at 4509 NW 23rd Ave., opened just over a year ago and mainly focuses on servicing women with high stress, Cobb said. The skin bar offers everything from acne cleanses to aromatherapy to a skin mask – cucumber or clay – to top it all off.
Though the skin bar caters to all ethnicities, Cobb said she’s especially proud of the way Renewal provides vital skin care education to the Black community. It’s an aspect of healthcare that’s often overlooked, she said, but one that’s entirely necessary to maintaining a healthy mind and body.
But the business transcends service to the skin. Not only is Cobb an esthetician, she said she’s also become a trusted confidant for many of her regular clients.
“Some women just spill everything out,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of feedback from women that say, ‘Oh my god, my skin is beautiful, but also I feel so refreshed in my soul.’”
Before Tawanna Hardy was a licensed stylist and esthetician, she spent 17 years working for UF’s human resources department. But after an overwhelmingly positive response on social media for her makeup job on her friend’s daughter, Hardy decided to go back to school to get her esthetician license and open her own business.
Beyouteeful Obsession Makeup & Beauty Bar has been providing a myriad of beauty services – including lash extensions, microblading and professional hairstyling – since 2015. Hardy, 43, said she prides herself and her business on customer service and diversity.
Since its inception, Hardy said Beyouteeful Obsession has been dedicated to serving clients of all backgrounds and ethnicities. The business isn’t necessarily a one-stop shop, she said, but with the wide variety of services, customers can expect to have most of their beauty needs met at 4001 W Newberry Road.
Even through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, business closures running rampant and face-to-face customer service next to impossible, Beyouteeful Obsession has persisted. Of that feat, Hardy said she’s the most proud.
“I’ve endured since I’ve opened,” she said. “Especially continuing to grow and thrive and flourish through COVID.”
Locs By Dee
Denisha Williamson is a master loctician.
For the past 17 years, Williamson, 36, has offered loc repair, styling and health services to the Gainesville community. Using all-natural products, Locs By Dee LLC specializes in maintaining healthy locs from healthy hair with the traditional coil method.
Hair care was introduced to Williamson at an early age. Her mother, grandmother and aunt all work in hairstyling, but Williamson said her health-centric approach inspired her to break out on her own and start her business.
When she saw Gainesville was lacking in locticians, Williamson said she knew she was in the right place to apply her skills. She’s amassed a loyal customer base since then, some clients still returning for hair care for the past 15 years.
“Because Gainesville is so unsaturated with locticians, as long as you’re good at your job and as long as you’re at work on time, people are really loyal,” she said.
Locs By Dee, located at 4110 SW 34th St., is completely run by Williamson. A passion project ever since its conception, Williamson describes the business as her “longest relationship,” and her dedication to the city of Gainesville is something she takes to heart.
“It just feels like home,” she said. “It’s really easy to be connected to the people here and be connected to the community.”
Eden Michele Salon
Michele Holloway prides her business on doing “the right thing.”
Holloway, 33, owner of Eden Michele Salon and Spa LLC, said she operates under a strict code of ethics. The business prioritizes paying employees their fair share, getting rent in on time and making sure the necessary tax forms are filled out.
Though initially unsure about starting her own business, Holloway’s love for people won out over her hesitation. After managing another salon for seven years, she said she decided to open her own business to foster growth and development in her employees.
Eden Michele, located at 2441 NW 43rd St., is celebrating five years of business on May 5. Since its inception in 2016, the salon has provided multicultural hairstyling using Aveda products, which are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.
Sustainability has been a significant focus for Eden Michele. As a partner of Green Circle Salons, a movement dedicated to protecting the environment within the beauty community, the business is Gainesville’s only certified-sustainable salon, she said. Eden Michele recycles everything – paper, plastic and even the hair that’s cut from clients.
Despite a number of challenges – moving locations, increasing prices of products and rent and COVID-19 – Eden Michele has seen success. The salon’s business doubled from its usual numbers in the months since the pandemic, and it’s now averaging over 200 customers a month.
As a young Black woman, Holloway said she’s proud to be a self-starter in the beauty industry. For her, it’s about setting an example for her team and for the rest of the community.
“I’m always thinking, ‘What can I do more? What can I do better?’” she said.
Opened in 2019 by five recent high school graduates, Studio Glam specializes in hair, nail and makeup services at affordable prices. The salon, located at 1109 NW 13th St., has since remodeled and expanded its staff, hosting a grand re-opening on Jan. 30, completed with live music and special deals.
Located at 1145 NW 13th St., Aesthetic Religion LLC offers services on eyebrows, eyelashes, and nails. Open for almost three years, the business specializes in colorful nail art with intricate designs and shapes.
Hair Wonders: The Cutting Edge
Owned by Roy Alford Jr., Hair Wonders: The Cutting Edge offers hair care and styling for a variety of customers. The business, located at 4040 SW 13th St., has been open for over 30 years and is known for its friendly staff, reasonable prices and relaxed atmosphere.
Contact Heather Bushman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @hgrizzl.
Heather Bushman, a UF journalism and political science senior, is Summer 2022's Digital Managing Editor. She was previously a reporter with WUFT News and wrote and edited with the Avenue, a desk that has her heart completely. You can usually find her writing, listening to music or writing about listening to music. Ask her about synesthesia sometime.