Philly Rising: Hair salon owner keeps workers paid, offers clients online tutorials, while awaiting relief

Antionette Lee
May 01, 2020 - 6:15 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)  Syreeta Scott founded Duafe Holistic Hair Care in North Philadelphia nearly 20 years ago. Her expertise in natural hair care has made her a standout entrepreneur over the years, styling clients like Janet Jackson, Questlove, Ava DuVernay, Smokey Robinson and more.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Scott was in the process of acquiring the property where her shop is. But that plan, and her business, is now on pause. 

“The moment this happened I started applying for loans and grants. Have we been approved? Yes, we have. Has it hit my account? No, it hasn’t. So it's been six weeks of really not earning any money at all outside of us selling our products,” Scott said.

In the meantime, Scott has made some adjustments to continue to serve her community and employees while the styling seats are empty. 

She’s recording hair care tutorials on social media, showing clients how to style their own hair at home. She’s also offering curbside pickup for her natural hair care products clients can order and pay for the products online, allowing them to pick up the items contact-free.

“It’s just been a blessing how many people have really supported our product through curbside service to allow for us to be able to stay half afloat,” she said. 

As her business waits for relief, she’s continuing to pay her employees out of pocket from her own savings. She employs more than a dozen people, who as independent contractors, earn money only by styling hair.

“We’re all in this together. My staff, they have families just like me. Unfortunately, unemployment has not served them. I’m determined to help the people around me,” she said. 

She started a GoFundMe, where 100% of the proceeds will benefit Duafe employees. Supporters have already helped raise more than $5,000.

Scott, whose small business has been through hardships such as the 2008 recession, said the challenges of the current climate has brought her closer to her faith.

“I’m making sure that I’m looking at all the miracles around me because everyday there’s one,” she said.

With her number one priority being the safety of her employees and patients, it could be a while before business returns to normal.

“If the climate is there and I know that my staff is safe and I know that the clients are safe coming in, then I can open. But, until then, our doors will be shut,” she said. 

She’s asking for patience from her clients as local restrictions lift and for support from those who can spare it as she continues to do her best to work through adverse times.

“We are being very proactive in making sure on social media we’re teaching. We’re offering the tools and we're also making sure the messaging is there. We’re letting you know what’s happening day by day,” Scott said. 

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Note: Philly Rising is highlighting local businesses in our area that continue to go the extra mile for employees and communities during troubling economic times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you know a business that we should feature next let us know here.