Jonnika Nickohl

Junios Smith | January 24th, 2020
Jonnika Wilson (Photos by Apollo Wonex)

Jonnika Wilson (Photos by Apollo Wonex)

A leap of faith, flair for style and a desire to advocate the diversity of women in the workforce, propelled Jonnika Wilson into entrepreneurship.
On November 11, 2019, Wilson launched The Jonnika Nickohl Collection, a hair accessory line she created as a way of expression for the everyday women to look and feel their best. The Spartanburg, South Carolina native who currently resides in Duncan, S.C. says the initial reviews have been positive.

Wilson has showcased plenty of innovation over the years, having graduated from the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, S.C where she studied dance. With over 20 years of dance training, Wilson continues to pursue her passion by teaching in local dance studios and creating choreography in the upstate. Wilson extended her education and now holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of South Carolina Upstate and a Masters degree in Business Administration and Human Resource Management from Strayer University.

“My desire for the arts and business has molded me into the professional woman I am today. I believe that your passion comes from your heart which is not enforced but embraced,” she says.

While having a hand in numerous avenues, a decision to go natural in 2009 planted the first seeds of Wilson’s desire toward her collection.

“From college to the start of my professional career, I always thought straight hair was considered the only way to look professional, move up in your career and fit in,” she says. With the desire to try something new with her strands, Wilson went for a drastic change. “I wanted to go natural, which at the time was not the trend as you see today. So, I did the bigchop and embraced my new identity and journey.”

A missed job opportunity a few years later emboldened Wilson into wanting to put something together.

“I applied for a business developer position, which included four interviews. The final interview was between myself and an external associate. The director over the area said, “we want you to work in this position – we know you’re a great employee and well qualified – and we’re pretty much set on offering you the position, but I do have one question: what are you going to do with your hair?”

“My hair is naturally curly, defined, and as most would say good hair – I didn’t see anything wrong with it.”

Another female associate included in the interview quickly objected saying that she did not see a problem with her hairstyle or texture and proceeded to imply and that the most important factor was that she is most qualified for the position, but the director refused to budge saying it was not his thing. “He felt the look wasn’t as approachable for others. Ultimately, I didn’t get the position – someone was hired externally – and that planted a seed for me,” she says.

In 2016, Wilson started working on what would become her initial staple.

“At that time, I only had one design in mind,” Wilson said. “I had an old headband – I took the stitching out, extended it, and placed it on my head which pulled up my curls creating a pin-up style. People started asking me where I got it saying it looked professional and was something they would wear to work. With such positive feedback, I started thinking of expanding this design to a collection of hair pieces for women to wear in any occasion.”

A trip to New York a year later helped Wilson put the plan into place.

“I took a lot of creative and business advice from a close friend who is a fashion designer – business owner and we started thinking of ideas and the best concept for my hair pieces,” Wilson said. “What makes my collection so unique is that each design is named after a family member or close friend. I love my family and friends, and this is the best way to hold them all close to me on this journey.”

Although she was very confident about her designs and concept, she struggled with a fear of rejection from previous experiences. She was able to overcome her doubts due to a strong support system. “I am blessed to have good people around me especially my mother who has prayed and supported me during this process. I design headbands, headwraps and turbans for the everyday woman. I want women to exude confidence and style in any scene whether it’s in the office, at an event or in the gym. The pieces are made from a slinky fabric which gives a sheen sophisticated look while providing the best comfort and flexibility for all-day wear,” she shared.

Wilson has some plans in the future. She would like to expand her collection by creating more pieces each season and build her audience from online sales to storefront and in major department stores. She would also like to use her professional career in Human Resources along with the Jonnika Nickohl Collection to counsel others. “Through my personal experience of rejection and seclusion as a professional, I want to close the gap and bring to light the importance and positive impact of diversity in the workplace, education and personal lifestyle,” she says.

“I am excited about this business, the brand and my future. All I have to do now is place my feet in the right direction and trust God in the process.”

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