Niche salon serving the market for multi-textured hair in Lewiston and beyond

·5 min read

Jul. 10—LEWISTON — Juggling a new business and fostering 4-month-old twins amounts to three full-time jobs, but it's just another chapter in Daria Jones' book of life.

The not quite middle-aged owner of Luxury in the Hood has worked in high-end salons on Newbury Street in Boston and Carytown in Richmond, Virginia. But she chose to come back to Lewiston to start up her third salon.

Luxury in the Hood specializes in multi-textured hair, in a market that Jones feels strongly is underserved.

"I really always knew there was a lack for multi-textured hair. Like I remember working at Sarah Jeannes," Jones explained, referring to the now closed salon on Sabattus Street, "and we're talking about a 200-mile radius, people were coming to get their hair done."

Textured hair transcends ethnic lines. An estimated 65% of the U.S. population has curly, wavy or coily hair, according to a 2018 TextureTrends report from NaturallyCurly. But make no mistake, multi-textured hair can be very difficult to maintain on a day-to-day basis and requires special attention. It's time consuming, requires lots of hydration, is hard to detangle without breakage and having more than one texture is completely normal.

Jones said she is licensed in five states, including Maine, where she is a licensed cosmetologist and a licensed cosmetology instructor, with more than 2,500 hours of training and more than a decade of experience.

"When you go to cosmetology school, you only get two weeks, if that, of multi-textured hair training," she said. "So, you're in school for 13-18 months and you only get two weeks of textured hair (training)."

It's one of the reasons Jones decided to become an instructor, to expand stylists' understanding and techniques of working with multi-textured hair.

"That's also why I offer continuous education for multi-textured and that's a business I've been running for the last six years," Jones explained. "Just going in salons and whatever multi-textured class they want and training them up for it."

Luxury in the Hood opened in March in the former Mary's Candy Shop at 236 Main St.

"Business has been excellent," Jones said. "People hear that we're here, they tell their friends. People are ecstatic about getting a full-service experience because a lot of the service-providers now are braiders."

Braiders, she explained, are not licensed in Maine, which means they cannot offer services like shampooing. It's one of the reasons she decided on the name Luxury in the Hood.

"Because you're not going to get a low-end salon experience," she said. "You're going to get a high-end salon experience — that's the culture of salons that I like, so that's what I want to provide."

The other reason, she explained, is that Lewiston's nickname in certain circles in Maine is the Hood.

"So I don't just call this the Hood, but I call it the neighborhood," she said. "I am here for my fellow neighbors."

In early June on a balmy Friday at noon, there was Jones, manning a gas grill on the sidewalk in front of her salon, smoke swirling as she offered free meals to anyone who wanted one.

"I love to just be able to support the community sometimes and offer free meals," she said. "If I had somebody who was able and willing to cook more often, I would definitely host it more often, but we're going to try and do it at least every other month."

Jones wants to expand her business to add a beauty supply store to service her clients and salons, something she said is also needed in the area. As she works to get the salon business up to speed and build her clientele, she plans to carry as many beauty supplies as she can in her salon.

Going green is also part of the plan. The salon business uses a lot of chemicals, dyes and single-use packaging, not to mention water. But until recently there hasn't been a national program to help salons recycle all that waste.

Jones said she is working to become a Green Circle certified salon.

Green Circle Salons is a Canada-based organization that claims to have over 16,000 waste warriors in the U.S. and Canada recycling up to 95% of their waste each year.

Through the program, salons can recycle hair clippings — which can be made into oil booms to soak up oil spills — excess hair color, foils, plastics, personal protective equipment and other single-use items like cotton swabs, waxing strips and nail files. It's a prospect that excites Jones.

The final aspect of her business that Jones feels is part of her community commitment is what she calls her community training classes.

"I'm offering classes for people to learn how to take care of their hair," she said. "We have a lot of mixed parenting in this area." So she teaches parents and the kids the basics — how to shampoo hair, blow dry, treat the scalp because it gets dry and she said can be very painful.

"I want people to bring their kids in so they learn how to take care of their hair and it becomes less traumatizing," Jones added, noting her lower pricing for kids reflects her commitment. The classes are free.

Jones said technology helps her manage her business more efficiently, so she asks customers to download her app, leave cash or a credit card to make an appointment and stay up to date with her offerings.

Luxury in the Hood has a website and people can find her on social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.