Red paint, vibrant artwork, a pool table, and sofas don’t fit the typical beauty salon setup, but you can find them on Beauty and Designz Studio Lounge. Instead of a front desk, customers get a friendly smile and say hello, and if they’re lucky, they’ll see Kyng, the studio owner’s baby, bouncing around in his walker.
OU’s first black-owned beauty studio opened in December 2021 and has “designz” for every client, whether they’re looking for a “fresh cut” or a place of refuge from a long day of classes.
Co-owner Natasha Coleman said the logo on the door represents how she provides services to kings and queens of all genders, colors and backgrounds. Beauty and Designz Studio Lounge is one of Norman’s few salons that deals with ethnic hair, and Coleman said they will eventually sell ethnic hair products in the salon.
Coleman said she never thought she’d be the first to do anything, so being the first black-owned company at OU means a lot to her. She loves the recognition she brings to the company and the opportunity it gives her to interact with students.
“The students really inspire us because they come in and (say), ‘We finally have a place on campus to go get our hair done, we don’t have to go to town.’ … It’s nice to see that they feel good about our presence here, and everyone is so grateful for that, ”Coleman said.
Although the studio and lounge specialty is ethnic hair treatment, the stylist’s diverse skills in cosmetology serve clients of all hair types. Coleman said the mark of a true cosmetologist is found in stylists who offer a wide range of services, so the studio covers braids, barbering, color, cut and styling, and spa services, such as facials.
“Yes, ethnic hair is my specialty because I’m an ethnic woman, but it doesn’t stop there. … When I decided to do it, I didn’t want my craft to stop only with my ethnic hair. I wanted to do everything, ”Coleman said.
Coleman has been working on hair since he was 16. She met her first business partner at Supercuts after entering and exiting the world of cosmetology years after beauty school. The two attempted to open a salon, but due to renovation problems they had to branch out on their own.
It was while I was working at New Black Wall Streeta hair salon and barber shop in Oklahoma City, where Coleman met his current business partner and co-owner Tracey Holman.
When a former OU client and alumna approached Coleman with the opportunity to open a salon on the OU campus, she decided to give the salon business another chance. Together with Ebony manager McCloud, Coleman and Holman worked to make the salon a familiar and supportive environment.
“We’re just not here to work,” Coleman said. “We’re here to unite. We support each other. Let’s listen. If anyone needs help, we’re here to help, and of course (we’re always) bringing the kids here (because) bringing our kids here shows them you can too. when you have children, because we are all one. “
McCloud said working in the studio and lounge means a lot to her, especially since being a stylist on the OU campus allows her to fulfill her dream of doing hair for athletes. This has been McCloud’s dream since she was 11 and she watched sports on TV. Instead of keeping up with the game, she always admired the players’ hair.
“One day I went to work, and I remember sitting here doing my hair (as an athlete), and I shed a tear because we were talking… and I was like ‘Oh my God, I’m so excited to be here. I am so happy to be here, all of you. I can go live my dream, ‘”McCloud said.
Not only does McCloud enjoy modeling college athletes, but he also loves getting to know them and their stories so he can share them with his kids.
“I’ve shown photos (of my clients) to my daughters, because they think it’s beautiful and they’re a great inspiration,” McCloud said. “For my children, it’s telling them (to) never give up. (The athletes) come from all over. … They are here to achieve their goals and have found a place where they can come and feel comfortable. And they can do the same thing. I like that. I like being able to learn from them and take it home “.
Xavier Brewer, senior defensive analyst for OU’s football team and one of Holman’s regulars, said he’s thrilled to have a barber shop so close to campus and his workplace, especially since it’s open and inviting.
“It’s all love. We talk about life (and) all life experiences, “Brewer said.” You can learn and grow from anyone, if you are open, and I think this (is) the kind of environment you would want to be in if you don’t see the time to experience a family atmosphere “.
When Holman joined Coleman in creating the studio and lounge, he said being in OU was a blessing. He hopes to inspire customers not only with his skill but also with his style.
“With our dress, (we try) to dress professionally, just to bring professionalism back to beauty and the barber instead of walking around (and) looking crazy,” Coleman said. “We want all of this. We want to make an impact here ”.
The most important thing Coleman wants for his business is inclusivity for OU students, Norman High School students, residents and customers from surrounding cities.
“We also want everyone to know that we don’t focus on black students or ethnic students,” Coleman said. “We style everyone, and not just the students on campus, but outside the neighborhood as well. We want everyone to feel welcome coming here. “
One of the things McCloud wants for anyone who enters the studio is to feel safe and welcome, especially when it comes to students who are away from home. As Coleman and Holman keep a family atmosphere and inclusiveness at the heart of their business, they said they hope the studio and lounge will serve as a “stool” for other entrepreneurs to pursue their professional passions.
“This will set the example for other black-owned companies or even minority businesses that will come here and say, ‘Well, they did, let’s do it,'” Coleman said. “That makes (being here) useful.”