Following a seed of inspiration planted by her mother, TaKeisha Berry-Brooks decided to shift her career focus from hair stylist to full-time business owner when she opened A Natural Affair Beauty Lounge in Memphis, Tennessee in 2008. After witnessing her mother’s own natural hair journey, TaKeisha wanted to cultivate a space to serve clients with natural hair or those transitioning into natural hair styles that helped clients feel empowered to take hold of their natural beauty.
But the start and growth of A Natural Affair didn’t happen overnight. TaKeisha credits both her mother and stepfather for her early success starting at age 16 when they invested in and supported her journey through cosmetology school. After cosmetology school and owning her own chair in a shared salon space, TaKeisha decided she wanted to establish a unique role of her own in the hair industry, and quickly fell in love with helping women restore health to their natural hair.
Finding success in her first location, TaKeisha decided her business’s growth was quickly overtaking her capacity due to the lack of more natural hair salons of its kind in the Greater Mid-South and surrounding areas. With a high demand, TaKeisha needed to expand into a second location, but needed funding to take that next step. After connecting with Pathway Lending in 2021, TaKeisha secured the funds she needed to jumpstart her new location-, enhanced with vibrant colors, neon signs, and an atmosphere to make a difference.
Through trial, error, training, and mentorship, TaKeisha has learned that small business success boils down to more than just profits. “It’s a ministry, art, and a business…it’s deeper than what people see on the surface. Learning every angle of my business allowed me to learn how to build equity. I now see my business from a different perspective than when I started, and I want to help other business owners pivot in the right direction,” says TaKeisha.
Through continual support from her own staff, community, and the team at Pathway Lending, TaKeisha’s zeal to help those around her has only multiplied. TaKeisha has now opened the door to helping other women in cosmetology reach their full potential by being the first salon to partner district wide with Shelby County schools to help train women in cosmetology school through mentorship and a work study program.
“The impact Pathway has made on my business has allowed me to support women in our community in a bigger way,” says TaKeisha.
An advocate for both small business owners and natural hair, TaKeisha has been recognized by Essence Magazine as one of the ‘25 Most Beautiful and Inspiring Black women in the World’ (2006) and her salon, and A Natural Affair Beauty Lounge received the ‘Best in Black’ award for #1 hair salon in Memphis from the New Tri-State Defender Newspaper. Now, TaKeisha has partnered with Amazon as they have launched a new program spotlighting black-owned businesses, where she will be selling several of her own natural hair care products.