Maria left Nigeria May 2007 for the US to be with her now ex-husband. Despite her biology degree, She boldly followed her passion for hair braiding instead. Growing up in Nigeria, she noticed an abysmal customer service culture, fragmented system with no expansionary strategies and multi-location business concepts, justifying the prevailing high business mortality rates.. Despite these challenges, she envisioned an indigenous black business that defied these norms, a testament to her determination and the power of pursuing one’s dreams against conventional expectations. Nia Soule Salon , (Nia - Swahili word for purpose )was established out of a desire to run a salon that transcended beyond styling braids but gave full expression to a life lived with intentionality.
In 2008, after numerous setbacks in her quest to enter the braiding industry, Maria attributes her breakthrough to divine guidance. She recognized the potential of the internet and turned to Craigslist as her platform to break into the braiding world. While being 7 months pregnant with her son Odin , on April 23rd, 2008, Maria accomplished a significant milestone when she braided her first client’s hair in her basement. This client paid $35 for a set of cornrows , marking the humble beginning of Maria’s journey. Despite the housing recession, Maria clung to her vision of turning the basement salon into a retail storefront. As her unique Ouchless Hair Braiding technique gained popularity, her small operation grew into the thriving Nia Soule Salon, drawing clients from Norcross, GA, and beyond.
The Great Step of Faith
In just 18 months of operating from her basement, Maria felt a calling to expand her salon beyond her home and engage with a wider community of women. She established her salon in the heart of Salon Studio Suites at Sugarloaf Mall, where she collaborated with Nkechi to create stunning hairstyles. However, due to a conflict of interests with the studio owners, she relocated to the back of A & E Beauty Supply, owned by two Ghanaian sisters. Here, she met talented braiders like Nkechi, Rosemary and Makula, who became integral to Nia Soule Salon’s journey during that period. In the summer of 2010, she returned to her basement as the backspace of the beauty supply store didn’t align with her retail vision.
The Office / Carpet Salon Struck down but not destroyed, Maria continued the search for the ideal space that will be the home for Nia soule Salon in August of 2010 she signed a 1 year lease at 5170 Buford Highway Norcross Ga . She fondly calls this space The office / Carpet salon . Though not your ideal retail space, everyday serving the women of Atlanta kept the dream alive .Interesting fact when PBS ‘Need to Know’ featured Maria’s story on their Making it in America : Immigrant Success stories she was still operating Nia Soule Salon out of this‘ obscure ‘ office space gives testament that your gifting no matter where you are will announce you to your world .
The Era of Retail Expansion Norcross Location
𝐍𝐨𝐫𝐜𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐬 𝐥𝐨𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧: 𝐄𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐍𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝟑𝟎𝐭𝐡 , 𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟏 Maria emptied her entire savings account which could only just purchase salon furniture to fund the very first retail location, a crazy bold faith step. With unusual favor from the property owners she and the salon enjoyed a turnkey salon in terms of the build out phase for a whopping $25,000 in landlord build out . In 2018 the Norcross salon was expanded into a bigger suite to make room for the addition of the beauty supply store .
The Fayetteville location Journey to the South College Park to Fayetteville
In October of 2014 ,in line with the original vision that Nia Soule would be a multi location salon, Maria began to explore the possibility of a location on the south of Atlanta as a good number of clients still drove an hour to Norcross to get serviced. The salon made a brief stop at Great Cuts By Alexander in College Park for 10 months ( the barbershop was the connecting location that brought Maria and team on the Black Panther movie production)and finally settled at 108 Banks Crossing.
The Norcross location broken even in 2014 and continued to see growth in clients and new stylists joining the team. Braiders & Clients who lived in the Snellville area would leave their houses as early 4:30am for clients arriving for their 5:30am appointments in Norcross . We began to run into space issues and hence the need to open a location to serve clients on the East side of Gwinnett county and environs . In 2022 the Snellville location became the first location to be outfitted as a one stop shop beauty mall with salon suites where other beauty professionals like lash technicians, teeth whitening specialists massage therapists began to serve the community .
𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐃𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐚𝐬, 𝐓𝐗 ? Our Dallas, Texas location was borne out of the need to begin to replicate the Ouchless Hair Braiding culture beyond the territories of Georgia. Our founding principles always is to be an instrument of change in the lives of braiders who we see share our core values. With Empress Ema heading Texas , one of the core team members from the Norcross location originally she has exhibited the passion and values required to carry forth the mission, a partnership was forged to establish the first Nia Soule Salon outside of Georgia. Amidst the challenges the Dallas Texas location experienced in its early days we are strengthened by the fact that a detour may occur but we trust the road map that we have been given based on our core values, that a braid shop can be multi location and multi generational impacting every day women braiders and clients alike as we strive to live a life of purpose .
What is Next with Nia Soule Salon?
So what does the future hold for us ; Our commitment is to keep providing excellent customer service and Authentic Ouchless Hair Braiding as we continue to explore new opportunities in and outside the United States setting our horizons on global markets in the coming decades to meet demand.