Epitome Hair Studio

Laci Ollison | May 15th, 2019
Essence Pugh

Essence Pugh

Nestled in the heart of downtown Richmond sits a hair salon that is the personification of its name. Epitome Hair Studio has garnered a reputation as a safe space for girls and women to receive services that will enhance their natural beauty and improve the health of their hair.

Alexis Saunders opened the salon during a time when she desperately needed a flexible schedule.

“I have three children: a set of twins, and one son who is autistic. It was hard to work and still be able to care for my son because my husband and I didn’t really have any support.”

The mother of three knew that she had to find a job that would allow her to maintain a flexible schedule while earning a sustainable income.
“I knew that I always had a knack for hair,” said Alexis. “When my husband and I moved back to Richmond that’s when I decided to open up my own salon.”

In the seven years since she began her cosmetology career, Alexis has managed to build a thriving business that has not only impacted the life of her clients, but her community as well.

“I try to think of my salon as being more than a salon,” the owner said. “I try to find ways that I can partner with others in the African American community. I’m always looking for ways to pay it forward.”

Lindsay Poole is a lead stylist at Epitome Hair salon, working alongside owner Alexis Saunders. Originally from Richmond, Lindsay had always wanted to be a hairstylist, even as a child. “I always paid attention to someone’s hair as long as I can remember,” said Lindsay. “My parents love to tell people how all of my dolls would have different hairstyles.”

Although she has been a licensed professional for eight years, she has been doing hair since middle school. Her dreams of being an entrepreneur started early as well. “I never liked how the corporate world could put a limit on what I earned. I never believed in someone else’s dream.”

She recently launched her own line of extensions, custom wigs, and lashes. “I want to add more services to my business. I want to be a one stop shop,” Lindsay said. “I’m working on adding make up services as well as skin services to my business.”

The hairstylist also aspires to mentor young girls in the Richmond community, and hopes to encourage others to follow their dreams, no matter what they may be. “If I could change one thing about my journey, I would’ve gone straight to cosmetology school after high school, said Lindsay. “I went to a traditional college listening to everyone else’s plans for my life but my own.”

Although entrepreneurship wasn’t an easy journey, Lindsay was able to learn valuable lessons along the way. The hardest part of her journey was remembering to remain true to herself. “I had to learn to listen to myself and what Lindsay wanted. Now that I am true to myself and what I want, I am very optimistic about my journey.”

Today, she is able to enjoy the business and life she has built for herself. “My absolute favorite part about being in the beauty industry is making women feel good about themselves,” she said. “I love how us women get that different strut in our walk when we know our hair is on point.”

In regards to being an entrepreneur, she tells others, “Rome wasn’t built in a day. Stay consistent, stay hungry, and most importantly have faith.”
Epitome Hair Studio is committed to developing strategic partnerships with other businesses in the community, and routinely feeds the homeless citizens in the Richmond area.

“As a whole, we don’t support others as often as we should,” said Alexis. “I want people to support me, of course, but I also love to see other people grow. I try to help others in any way that I can.” That includes those who enter the doors of Epitome Salon. Alexis said that her clients are her biggest motivation. “It gives me a natural high and extreme happiness to see my clients faces. Some may not seem as confident when they come in but their reaction after they’ve gotten their hair done is priceless.”

Alexis said that she takes pride in enhancing her client’s natural beauty. For her, seeing the confidence of a woman leaving her salon has been one of the reasons she hasn’t given up on her business. But she also draws her strength from someone who was very dear to her. “My grandmother, Gladys Rodgers, was and still is extremely instrumental in my life.,“ she said.

Although Alexis’s grandmother passed away in November of 2018, she still finds herself attempting to make her grandmother proud exceed her expectations. Alexis also has fond memories of her great-grandmother Dolores Miller, who was also a hairstylist.

“When I was younger, I used to ride the bus in the summer and spend all day in the salon with [my great-grandmother],” said Alexis. “I guess you could say becoming a stylist was in my DNA.”

Just as a love for cosmetology was passed down to Alexis, the mother of three hopes to pass down a legacy of entrepreneurship to her own children. “It’s extremely important for me to instill entrepreneurship in my children. There’s no gratification like having your own and working for yourself,” she said.

She also encourages others to pursue their dreams, no matter what. “The best advice I can give anyone is to never give up. What you put into something, is what you’re going to get out of it. Map out your overall goal and take baby steps towards it. If you have a vision you must create an action plan and believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself then no one else will,” she shared.

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