Written by William Bryant Rozier
Tahisha Johnson, owner of Evolution Hair and Nail Studio, LLC, learned the practice of hair ventilation, wig/weave making, which she calls “pieces,” that are worn by people who suffer from hair loss, like cancer patients, or even men for patch beards, who need more hair coverage. For ventilation, individual strands of hair are stitched inside a piece of lace; the practice also can be used for the precise and patience-necessary work of eyebrow repair.
Johnson learned how to ventilate while living in South Carolina but never had the opportunities to use those skill sets until recently this year. A friend of Johnson’s, a woman who she used to babysit for, was diagnosed with cancer. When she referred Tahisha to the American Cancer Institute out of Indianapolis, Johnson began ventilating some pieces for cancer patients there. She wants to create more (like full-time more) pieces than the two she did in Fort Wayne this year. Ventilation hasn’t been a jump-on-it idea for a lot of area stylists so far. When Johnson put out feelers to teach a class on it, nobody came running. “I think it wasn’t the right time,” she said.
It’s about education and awareness at this point (I started this article about it for a reason). She’s trying to come from behind the chair to work with the American Cancer Institute for the Fort Wayne area.
“If I can find somebody to fill my shoes,” Johnson said, “and care as much about hair care as myself, I definitely would step from behind the chair.” The hair client in Johnson’s chair was like nope, nope at the thought of her go-to stylist stepping back. Johnson would still be around though; she would be more of an advisor.
How many African-American hair salons do you know that do multi-cultural hair out North? “We are it,” Johnson asserted. Schooled and licensed hair stylists learn to work with all types of hair, she said. She didn’t want to be pigeonholed: black hair stylist who can only do black hair. “I didn’t want that for my life. I want to do all hair.”
But how do you market that? Do you put that on a business card? Johnson relayed the story about how a white woman called her studio and straight up asked her if she was black…that was the first thing out of her mouth. “It’s…unfortunate,” Johnson said. (Those little dots denote a pause. Her pause was deep.) The hair stylist answered her question and booked her. Johnson has a few Caucasian clients and a Hispanic one.
Johnson began our interview with another frustrating point for an African-American salon owner. The story she told focused Johnson’s nail-technician at-the-time, Te’asia Lewis. Johnson felt the client, who was also African-American, nitpicked a lot of Lewis’ work. “We have to be perfect. We have to know our stuff when it comes to hair care and nail care,” said Johnson, who noted that the same client can sit down at another nail-care studio and not complain when services are rendered from a tech who not only isn’t licensed, but who, she said, is using a shared license. “It’s just the double standard we run into,” she said.
Her studio has been located in the Stoney Creek Drive professional village, across from the Coldwater Crossing cinemas, for five years. She’s been at 6219 for three years; the studio is in the back, in the last rectangle. Evolution Hair and Nail Studio is an all-in-one shop. Hair stylist and wig maker Johnson is also a licensed manicurist. Her daughter Chanel Johnson (The Beauty Bar by Chanel) is a licensed esthetician only a few months from graduating herself. “It’s been more difficult than I thought it would be; a lot of women and men don’t know what an esthetician does or finds it important [enough] to keep up on skincare needs.” Chanel deals with a lot of acne and chemical peals; education is her priority for her clients: exercise, rest, and healthy eating.
Hair-braiding specialist Sutannie Coleman (Slayed by Sutannie) was featured in Issue 13 of the Fort Wayne Ink Spot on this very page. As reported in that issue, prayer and braids are the two attributes that distinguish Sutannie’s work, according to the hair artist. “When you have your own unique touch, it puts you outside of everyone, especially if you really love what you to,” Coleman said. “You’re not just doing it just for a hustle.”
New York-born Wendine Charles (Queenbriezenails) has been a professional nail tech for about a year. “The first year has been a learning experience,” Charles said. “A lot of people see the glitz and the glam part but don’t understand that you really have to put work in.” Her year-one struggles almost made her quit, “but if it wasn’t for the people around me pushing me, I wouldn’t have made it.”
(Left to Right) Tahisha Johnson, Evolution Hair and Nail Studio, LLC, Chanel Johnson, The Beauty Bar by Chanel, Wendine Charles, Breeze Nails with Windine, Sutannie Coleman, Slayed by Sutannie