Revolutionizing Black Hair Care Experiences with D.Simone Artistry
“First we measure the rows…now we have passed the occipital region and reached the crown…we are close to the temple now, that is where we can do our part…” Contrary to belief, this is not not a conversation between a surgeon team. It was my hairdresser explaining the techniques for parting my hair to one of her many interns at Simone Artistry in Elmwood Park, New Jersey. I’ve always thought of hairstylists as magicians, mystics, and math geniuses, and Dianelle McAllister ensures that this cultural wisdom is passed on to her employees and clients through on-the-job training and educational workshops.
Black hair care is a million dollar industry and black women are the main consumers. Black women invest heavily in maintaining their hair for good reason. Afrocentric hairstyles are highly regulated and demeaned in Western society. Enslaved women were not allowed to show their hair in some states, leading to the iconic bandana that popularized caricatures of black women. More recently, 25 years study have linked the use of chemical relaxers to straighten natural hair to higher risks of breast cancer. Black women feel pressured to straighten their hair because those who wear natural hairstyles such as braids and afros are considered unprofessional, angryand incompetent. Dove to research in partnership with the CROWN ACT Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be fired from work because of their hair, making black hair care a health, political and economic issue.
Despite discriminatory regulations and experiences, black hairstyles continue to guide culture and trends. Cultural icons are increasingly sporting their natural hair, and black hairstylists deserve credit for creating this aesthetic beauty. DSimone Artistry is part of this culture having recently style the Williams sisters and members of this year’s NBA Draft class.
D. Simone Artistry Salon and Spa supports clients who “transition from chemical services to embracing their natural hair, some for the first time in their 30s and 40s.” New clients receive a hair analysis where the stylist evaluates a strand of hair and explains your surface texture, density, why there might be breakage and solves this problem through different treatment options.
“DSimone Artistry’s mission is that beauty lies in appreciation and understanding,” says Dianelle. “We [often] think of celebrities as hair goals, but we don’t think our own hair will look that way unless we improve it [with weaves, wigs, etc]. By educating our customers, our goal is to help them see the beauty they naturally have, begin to appreciate it, and understand what your hair needs to grow and thrive.
Their mission reflects a growing collective of hair experts educating black women on the care and styling of frizzy hair. Simone Artistry is a member of black girl curls–a movement to encourage the daily care of natural curls. The increased focus on holistic health in black communities is resulting in more natural salons and styling.
Dianalle credits her professional training in nursing with her passion for working in hair care. “I realized that I am a healer. I feel called to help people heal by helping them become their best selves. This comes from my nursing background where I educated patients extensively to help them make the best decision for their health, which is how I see hair and how I want our clients to see their hair. She insists that her job “is not just about styling hair. We want to show customers how to recognize and correct any problem in their hair. »
DSimone Artistry begins educating clients at an early age, filling a gap in salon care. “A lot of salons don’t want to serve kids, but we welcome them,” shares Dianelle. “I am a mother and I would never want a caregiver not to know how to take care of their children’s hair.” The salon regularly offers workshops and classes for parents of young curlfriends and tweens on how to style and care for their own hair, building the esteem and confidence of future generations of naturalists.
The salon and spa combine their educational experience with a relaxing, plant-filled environment that centers and celebrates Blackness with its music and decor. “I wanted to mix luxury with comfort…I fell in love with plants and thought about how our hair needs similar nourishment. We should water and wash our hair and not leave it in protective hairstyles too long without humidity.
In addition to hair care, DSimone Artistry offers innovative facials, massages and healing services, reflecting Dianelle’s medical background: “I feel like I’m still caring for clients like I did in as a nurse and wanted to use my healthcare skills in this space. We just rolled out our sister company Wellness Drops which is an IV vitamin infusion. This stems from the fact that I have noticed vitamin deficiencies in clients experiencing thinning and hair loss at a younger age. Skin, hair, and nails are not essential organs, so your body will draw from these organs to meet an essential need. Rather than our gut metabolizing vitamins, these infusions give you a fuller dose of vitamins and minerals. I offer these wellness drops to our clients as part of our holistic health approach to closing the vitamin deficiency gap. Although natural textures are strong, everything has a breaking point and needs support.
Black hair salon experiments have recently been criticized for being unprofessional and exorbitantly expensive. Some stylists have strict rules about being late and charging clients extra for styling “thick” hair. Black women are sharing “hair-raising” stories on social media, ranging from paying over $500 for braids to 12-hour dates. Without speaking about racist experiences in salons unfamiliar with Afrocentric hair textures. It was not surprising for Dianelle. “[Some stylists] are not business savvy because our families did not own businesses in which we could work and learn.
Business foundations are critical to the longevity of service businesses, but can still elude black business owners who lack a similar safety net and financial backing compared to entrepreneurs of other groups. Similar to her approach to hair care, Dianelle approached growing her business from an education perspective.
“I looked for tools and offers from different organizations. One of them was Capital of the Rising Tide which offered weekly courses, simulations, on balancing the budget and hiring employees. It was my basis for owning a business. Stylists need to structure salons as a business rather than a hobby. We need to learn about the policies and the profits. Booth rentals, for example, are illegal in New Jersey, but many salons still offer split commissions. If the split does not provide the stylist with the legal weekly minimum wage, then the salon owner will have to make up the difference,” causing a lot of stress and pressure on stylists and salon owners.
DSimone Artistry offers different working conditions to retain its stylists. “I want to create an environment where people want to work and stay here. We offer hourly wages for stylists, paid time off every quarter, mental health breaks to disconnect and recharge. We are also considering offering insurance and other benefits, which are rare in black-owned hair salons. This allows us to be consistent with the services we offer to clients and to ensure continuity in the stylist-client relationship. It also allows our team to have a sense of accomplishment as they continue to serve others.
Dianalle’s vision for black hair care is to create accessible and inclusive salon and spa experiences for its customers. “One of the biggest challenges black women face when moving is figuring out where to get their hair done. I have noticed customers drive over two hours for high quality service. My goal is to create access to luxury black hair care where it’s normal for stylists to be cordial, provide refreshments, educate clients about their hair, and ensure a satisfying experience.
Dianalle plans to franchise the salon throughout New Jersey over the next few years and then expand across the country. The combination of education, vibe, and business acumen at DSimone Artistry is sure to revolutionize black hair salon experiences for the better.