Peoria stylist overcomes tragedy, celebrates one year in business

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At just 26-years old, Justus Johnson is making waves in the beauty industry. The Peoria native is a licensed hair stylist, make-up artist and a budding entrepreneur.

“I got your back. Whatever your need, I can help you,” she said.
Johnson is now celebrating a year in business as the owner of Justus’ House of Coiffure in Peoria.
“Coiffure is French and it means an elaborate hairstyle,” said Johnson. She says the name also pays homage to her great-aunt, Elizabeth Lynch.

“I have a great aunt on my mother’s side of the family who was the first African-American woman in Evansville, Indiana to have a salon. She was also on the board of education for the state of Indiana,” she said. “Her salon’s name was Lynch’s House of Coiffure.”

Johnson is now following in her family’s footsteps. She now manages a team of three barbers, one stylist and one braider.

She said, “I feel ecstatic looking at the salon everyday. It is a little overwhelming, but this is what I asked for. So I try to remind myself constantly that ‘Justus, this is a blessing.’”

But the road to entrepreneurship didn’t come easily. Johnson opened her shop, had a baby and experienced tragedy all within the same year.

“Thank God for villages and you know having a great support system. Last year, I ended up losing both my grandma and my mom within a few weeks,” Johnson said.

She says she’s had to process her grief more quickly being a business woman on the move. There’s a constant pressure she feels.

“As far as being a young black, African-American woman, we tend to beat ourselves up a lot because we always expect higher of ourselves,” said Johnson.

But it’s the support of her team that keeps her going. As far as what comes next, Johnson is keeping tight lipped about the details. But she does say she plans on growing her team, skills and brand.

Johnson said, “You know everyone just keep a lookout because you know I plan on being bigger. You know I’ve got plans for Peoria.”

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