PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Renita Wyatt is seeing her business grow faster than she can restock the shelves.
“We’re the only Black-owned beauty supply store. And run by a woman,” Wyatt said.
What started as a pop-up shop in October 2020 became a small business by February 2021. The new store, Your Soul Essentials, is located at 716 W. Main St. in Peoria.
“When we first opened, we had maybe six products on our shelves and half of the hair that we have now,” Wyatt said.
She said her experiences buying beauty products have often been a hassle.
“With me being natural, I usually have to go to multiple stores or order online– some of my hair products,” Wyatt said. “When I decided to put together a beauty supply store, I thought that we needed more of a natural hair store, so that’s what I carry. I’m trying to carry more whole lines than bits and pieces of things that we need daily for our hair. That way you don’t have to go to multiple stores, you can make one stop.”
Wyatt said this is something that the Black community in Peoria has been talking about for a long time.
“This is something that we needed. I’ve heard over many years, people kept saying ‘hey, I’m gonna open up a Black-owned beauty supply store.’ Or ‘Somebody should do it.’ and it makes me proud to say I did it,” Wyatt said. “And it’s not just me doing it. It’s me and my community doing it. This is how we’re growing.”
The owner of A Sharp Effect in Peoria, Adrienne Jones, said she is so excited to see Wyatt flourish.
“It means a great deal for the community because we’ve been talking about it culturally for a long time to have a Black-owned beauty supply store,” Jones said. “To just see it come to fruition, I mean, it’s amazing.”
Wyatt said her business has grown because of word of mouth. She already has a regular customer, Essence Anderson.
“She’s a Black-owned business, she’s a Black-owned hair care business, and I love it!” Anderson said. “Not only can you relate, like, she really explains hair care to you.”
Anderson said she returns every week.
“I can just come here, grab a bow for my 6-year-old, grab some things for my daughter, grab a wig for me, and it’s all affordable. The prices are affordable,” Anderson said.
Wyatt said she uses her shop to network and meet members of the community. Her business has been growing steadily with the help of a customer suggestion box.
“I want you to be able to come in here and be comfortable with what you see,” Wyatt said. “You know you’re gonna come here and get a good product. If it’s something that I don’t have, I can special order it for that person.”
Wyatt has also put products from other local vendors on her shelves.
“Another thing that I really really loved about her business is that not only should we support her, but she is supporting the community,” Jones said. “She’s allowing people to bring their businesses in there.”
Wyatt also said she wants her store to empower the community, especially her daughter.
“So our slogan is ‘be natural, be beautiful, be you.’ That is our slogan,” Wyatt said. “So I want my daughter to always know you can wear your hair however you want it. She wears braids, she wears it naturally, she wears it straight as I have it now. We are so versatile in our hair and it’s very unique, you know?”