A native of Philadelphia, Freda Brown has always had a knack for doing hair. However, her interest in business and finance led to a degree in Business from UMES. Freda then spent 8 years working in corporate America as an accountant, financial analyst and finally as an Account Executive for Radio One. It was during that time that she rediscovered her love for hair. A chance encounter at the Dreadlock Shop eventually led to a job as a Salon Assistant, a cosmetology license and ultimately ownership of that same salon.
Her work has appeared on multiple occasions in Black Sophisticates Hair Magazine and Style Q Magazine. She has been awarded the Natural Stylist of the Year Award from Bennett Career Institute as well as a Golden Scissors Award for Best Student Stylist. She is currently the owner of The Loc Shop in Hyattsville, MD. With over 15 years experience as a Natural Hair Stylist, Freda still finds beauty, versatility and excitement in the ever evolving world of natural hair care. Freda is a wife to an awesome guy and mother to two amazing boys.
Freda’s journey of working corporate America by day and salon assisting at night was both fun and fulfilling. Her college career prepared her for Corporate America and it was exactly what she needed and wanted at that time. Initially, working as a salon assistant at night was just something fun to do that allowed her to get discounted hair services. Eventually, Freda grew to love and was inspired by salon work more than any other 9-5 opportunity. “The decision to become a salon owner essentially fell in my lap.” The owner of The DreadLoc Shop was looking to sell the business. She called me and asked if I was interested in buying the business and I said “let me think about it. A few days later I said “yes”. I changed the name from The Dreadloc Shop to The Loc Shop and the rest is history.”
After working as a salon assistant at The DreadLoc Shop, Freda eventually went to cosmetology school to become a licensed cosmetologist. After completing school she left corporate America but also left The Dreadloc Shop. “I was interested in doing more multicultural hair and found an assistant position with another salon, Bubbles. After working at Bubbles for about a year, one of my old Dreadloc Shop colleagues called to let me know that she had purchased The Dreadloc Shop about 2 years ago but decided that she wanted to sell the business. She wanted to know if I would I be interested.” During this time, Freda was considering working with a celebrity stylist that was opening a salon in Bethesda MD. “I thought long and hard and decided to take a chance on myself instead of the celebrity stylist. A few days later, I said yes to taking over the salon. I quit Bubbles, changed the name from The Dreadloc Shop to The Loc Shop and the rest is history. I started doing hair full time.”
Since owning a salon wasn’t initially part of her plan, she didn’t prepare financially for it. “I was so broke. Savings wasn’t a thing for me at the time. It should have been but it was something that took lots of mistakes for me to learn the importance of.”
After leaving corporate America her job at Bubbles was that of salon assistant/receptionist until she passed her state boards. She was making about $7-$10/hour so she had already grown accustomed to not having much money. Although Freda now specializes in natural hair, taking over ownership of the salon full time meant doing all hair types whenever the client was available. “I couldn’t afford to be picky. Also, the salon was previously only open nights and weekends so the money it generated was seriously part time money. I hustled.”
Now, as a seasoned entrepreneur and salon owner, Freda has created a niche that supports her specialty. “We are a salon that specializes exclusively in starting, styling, coloring and maintaining locs. She also set her hours to supports her family life, by appointment only.”
When asked if Freda had children before starting business, this was her response: “I didn’t have children when I started my salon business. My first child came in 2012. I had been running The Loc Shop for about 3 years at the time. I saved diligently during my pregnancy so that I could take 12 weeks off from work. Shortly after returning to work I adjusted my schedule to work fewer weekends. After I had my second son in 2017, I adjusted my work schedule again to only work one Saturday per month. I also keep what I call bankers hours. Most weekdays I work 9-5. I’m able to do drop off and pick up my youngest from school. Both of these things are important to me and I wouldn’t let entrepreneurship get in the way of that.”
She mentioned that the most rewarding part about running her business is how good she makes people feel simply by using her hands and the unlimited vacation time is a close second.
If you are an aspiring salon owner, below are the steps Freda recommends to get started:
- Do all hair types just to get experience with different hair, different personalities and different ways of running your business. Niche down when you can afford to.
2. Work as an assistant. You are basically getting paid to watch someone else model good business management. This also means you have to be sure you’re working with a stylist/ owner that models good business management.
3. Get trained/certified in different techniques. While at Bubbles I took a ton of haircutting classes. While I no longer service a large multicultural clientele those cutting and coloring skills are still useful and necessary as a natural hairstylist.
4. There will be mommy guilt. The reality is you can’t and won’t be able to do and be everything at all times for and with your children. I’ve yet to find a way around it. I suggest asking not just your partner for help but enlisting the help of mother in law, auntie/besties and even other mothers. It won’t make all the guilt go away but your little ones will feel supported and loved knowing that someone was there for them at the school play, field trip, etc. Providing healthy home cooked meals and less fast food could also help. Try supplementing with some frozen and some cooked. Sometimes we do frozen pancakes but will scramble eggs for the boys. It’s quicker and your kids are still getting a hot meal in the AM.
5. Lastly, try to keep your overhead and expenses as low as possible. If you are licensed, memberships at Cosmo Prof, Pauls Beauty and Sally’s are free and allow you to get discounted rates on salon supplies. Buy gallon size bottles of shampoos and conditioner as this is less expensive than repeatedly buying 16oz bottles here and there. Accept credit by using a mobile device like Square Mobile. You can usually get the mobile attachment for free. If you aren’t able to pay for a online appointment scheduling system, then use google calendar and email a reminder to your clients at least 48 hours before the appointment. These are all ways to save or not spend a ton of money early on.
To learn more about The Loc Shop, or to schedule a hair appointment, visit:
Facebook: The Loc Shop