Michigan entrepreneur is first Black woman to launch hair salon franchise to speed up visits

Posted at 5:35 PM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 17:35:36-05

(WXYZ) — "As a woman with thick and curly hair, you know, finding a place to get my hair done was one of the first questions I asked in making any decision. It determined how often I worked out, where I vacationed, where I went to college. It just it was determinant," said Dana White.

Time-consuming and life-dictating, salon visits for Dana left her feeling frustrated.

"I couldn't understand ... when I was in Detroit or even sometimes in salons in New York, why was I so willing to just give up hours? And I said, 'there's got to be a better way,'" said Dana.

So in 2012, Dana moved back to Michigan and opened Paralee Boyd, a destination dedicated to quality hair care in a timely fashion.

"We're not a full service salon. We don't cut or color. We don't put in or take out weave. But we will service the weave that you have sewn in and it is about procedures, processes and techniques," she said.

Driven by data, Dana said much of the work in the Midtown salon is measured and executed efficiently.

"We're very deliberate about how we blow dry, how we shampoo, how we apply our treatments, and then using ... lean manufacturing principles to operate and get women in and out in a certain amount of time," said Dana.

There's a focus on even the smallest details.

"In the design of the salon, where the lights are, where you turn those on ... how you get the towels in our slot ... all of that is considered," she said.

And the effort, Dana says, pays off—in the form of happy customers.

"We've had women call us from their driveway. 'I can't believe I'm home and I got to you guys at 12:40 something and I'm home at 2:15. I can't believe that. Thank you.' We get that a lot. We get calls from dads, our husbands. 'I went shopping and I've got my wife back. I've got my daughter back.' We get that a lot," she said.

It's a gift she’s excited to give—as she honors her late grandmother, who she named the salon after.

Paralee Boyd

"She was integral in the community. People from all walks of life would come and talk to my grandmother, sit in her kitchen, sit in her dining room, sit in her living room and talk to her about whatever was going on with them. And they always left feeling better," she said. "She didn't have the same opportunities to open a business that I have, so I named it after her in honor of that, and I wanted people, my customers, to feel how a guest in her home felt. I want them to feel that way, leaving the salon just feeling better about themselves."

And it’s a feeling that Dana says should be experienced everywhere, and so recently she became the first African American woman to franchise a national hair salon.

"I just really wanted to see what this salon could do in larger markets like your Atlanta, Chicago and LA, New York, whatever ... we've got over 80 inquiries of people who are interested. You know, all of those may not be viable. But even if we get two or three, that's a great start," said Dana.

The end goal, Dana says, is to grow it and eventually sell it while acting as the CEO or on the board.

"That's the vision, just to give it to the world. And hopefully women with thick and curly hair will no longer make life choices inhibited. They can go jump in a pool because they can get out and go walk into a Paralee Boyd and walk out two and a half hours later, done. That's the vision," she said.

Dana tells me her commitment to Paralee Boyd comes from having to navigate hair choices all her life.

She hopes 10 years from now to have 100 locations nationwide — focusing on the quality of those salons over the quantity.