Hair

This story is a part of an Avenue series called “The Voices of Gainesville” meant to spotlight black-owned businesses, black artists and black musicians in Gainesville. 

Saditty — it's a word that aspires to be more than it is, carrying an air of superiority and overconfidence. It’s a term Lakheria Hines always identified with, but never questioned the significance of until she sought to create a brand she could have pride in as a budding entrepreneur. 

Hines, a 20-year-old UF applied physiology and kinesiology junior, founded the online hair supply store, Sadity Hairphoria, in March 2019. Managing the workload of a full-time student and a growing clientele has its challenges, but Hines would never let anything jeopardize the quality of her merchandise, she said. 

“My whole message is to basically make women feel beautiful,” Hines said. “I’m not selling anything less than what I feel these women deserve.”

 

Within the Black community, hair is essential to one’s sense of identity, Hines said. Social media platforms have become a place for Hines to share in that identity, allowing her to create a name for herself at UF, she said.

 

“I can DM another woman about her wig like, ‘Hey, this wig is gorgeous,’ not knowing that I’m boosting her self-esteem,” Hines said. “Women get their hair done not only to enhance their look, but to embrace who they are.”

The effects of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement have given Sadity Hairphoria the most attention it’s ever had, Hines said. Her business is one of many to be recognized amid the heightened awareness surrounding the many injustices the Black community faces, she said.

Hines hopes the community built around the movement will persist, but she’s not certain the support will continue once the hashtags stop trending. As a black business owner, she chooses to stand by her business’ authenticity and her mission to bring out every woman’s inner beauty, Hines said. 

“It’s kind of like a visual representation of myself,” Hines said. “Whatever I want my business to stand for, I make sure I’m standing on it as well.” 

Lakisha Turner, owner of Beauty & Braids Salon and Supply, is more optimistic about a change in attitude towards the Black community for the better, she said. She’s hoping to fan a spark into a flame by closing her store on Election day in order to offer free rides to the polls, Turner said. 

“There’s no excuses anymore not to vote,” Turner said. “Everybody’s complaining, but nobody’s willing to do anything about it.” 

Turner, 32, has been a licensed cosmetologist since 2013, and founded Beauty & Braids in 2019. In addition to supplying hair among other accessories, Turner’s salon offers a wide range of diverse braiding styles to suit a unique customer base, Turner said. 

Beauty & Braids was slated for a grand opening, but COVID-19 skewed Turner’s plans, causing her to close down her salon for two months, she said. 

To her surprise, clients were still reaching out — which speaks to the nature of hair within the identity of the Black community, Turner said. 

“I’d say we are very essential,” Turner said. “People were willing to sacrifice their lives to get their hair done.”

Turner fears the uptick in COVID-19 cases may trigger another shutdown, she said. But the widespread support she's received over the weeks have helped the business blossom into something she could have never imagined, Turner said. 

Though Turner lives among like-minded people who value progress, she empathizes with those who doubt the current upheaval will have any lasting effects, she said. Her way of supporting the movement as a Black business owner is to weave happiness into every braid she pleats, Turner said. 

“All I can do is make sure you’re beautiful each and every day,” she said.. “Make sure you can come get everything you need to feel as beautiful as you want in your daily life.” 

Contact Lonnie Numa at [email protected] and on follow them on Twitter @lonaald.

Avenue Staff Writer

Lonnie Numa is a staff writer for The Avenue. They are a senior English major at UF and have been at The Alligator since Fall 2019. They are an avid rollerskater and has been learning how to skate backwards throughout quarantine!