My name is Maria Okpeh I started Nia Soule Salon® (Ouchless Hair Braiding®) in the basement of my home during the 2008 recession.
The salon has grown to its third retail location around metro Atlanta and plans to open a 4th in Dallas,Texas June 2018.
We are on our way to becoming the first Braiding Salon to transition into a Franchise.
I am a single mom to a 9yr old boy.
The vision to be an entrepreneur started brewing while in college (typical Nigerian parents wanted me to be a Medical Doctor)
A couple of factors motivated me;
1. All around me there were no black owned business that had longevity beyond 3years or a major employer of labor like Walmart.
2. Businesses in Nigeria really had no customer service focus...
Not knowing what kind of business, I had a vision to change these two views if I ever owned one.
In 2007 I moved to the U.S to join my now Ex-husband.
Without a driver's license, no money or being pregnant none of that was going to deter me
I stumbled on Craigslist in 2008 and started posting for would be clients.
The phone began to ring in the house.I was 7 months pregnant and with my unique technique of not pulling tightly hence the brand Ouchless Hair Braiding® the word spread.
A year later I was out of the basement renting a salon suite. I kept dreaming and working hard, the vision I saw of the salon was a retail store front.The next 18months I had several transitions the back of a beauty supply store, back to the home basement,an office building in August of 2010.
3 months later my marriage collapsed. With no family,than my 2year old son I made a decision to beat the statistics of a single black mom. I threw myself to the vision. I worked as early as 530am I wasn’t going to give up on me.
14 months later the vision of the retail store front materialized in November 2011.
I invested all of my life savings, maxed my credit cards for this vision.My faith was stretched.We have about 14 stylists today yet I know the journey ahead of us is still a long shot