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Conversations with Whitney Peek

Today we’d like to introduce you to Whitney Peek. 

Hi Whitney, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My love for hair began as a child. Growing up, my passion for hair escalated really quickly but I never thought I would succeed because there were so many beauty salons throughout the city, so I gained interest in the health care field. After 6 long years, I finally went to cosmetology school and successfully completed as the Platinum Stylist, also known as the top stylist of the school! Upon completion, I had 6 job offers! I worked and successfully expanded my clientele in this salon for 5 1/2 years until I decided it was time to branch out and become an entrepreneur and open my own salon, Peek Into Beauty. The salon was really small and only big enough to fit two stations. After almost two years of working in this salon, my desire to upgrade to the salon of my dreams finally started to take place. I opened a full-service salon with booth rental space and private suites. I also became a celebrity stylist to Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and a few others. One day, I attended career day at Empire Beauty School, and quite a few students were inquiring on marketing and advertising, so I gave them a few ideas that I did to expand my clientele. That evening, I had a client, an African American male in foster care living in a white, single-dad home. His hair was long, extremely thick, coarse, dry, and tangled. That’s when my next idea hit me! There are so many African American children residing in white foster and adoptive care, and their parents may not have any knowledge or experience in our hair texture or skin types, so I want to be able to assist these kids/teens with beauty maintenance. I can also help students and licensed professionals build their clientele or improve their skills by referring these clients to them. I started a nonprofit organization called Purposeful Innovative Beautician, comprised of student and licensed cosmetologist, barbers, estheticians, and nail technicians and we provide each participant a hairstyle or cut, basic manicure, and mini facial. I also assist families in shelters and facilities exploring job opportunities with beauty services so they can complete the look prior to or beginning employment. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Whew, NO! In cosmetology school, I was the Platinum Stylist, which is the top student stylist because I styled the most clients and sold the most retail. I had the opportunity to become Master Stylist if I had perfect attendance, but one day, I wore some leggings to school with lace around my knees. The teacher asked me to leave and called the police on me to escort me out the building. The salon I used to work for, I sensed quite a bit of jealousy as my clientele quickly grew. In the beginning of my career, my biggest requests were for braids, so approximately 75% of my clients were kids and teens. One day, a had a little girl, 5, at 8:30 AM, and her twin brother came with her to wait with their grandmother. No one else was in the salon except for the owner. He connected his cellphone to the surround sound playing a self-made recording, “No children are allowed in the salon!” I was so angry and embarrassed. Not only did these clients have a standing appointment, they traveled 50 minutes to see me. One week later, there were bright red and yellow signs in the salon that read, “NO CHILDREN ALLOWED UNLESS BEING SERVICED!!!” Then, the owner would secretly style my clients in her private suite if I was late to work. After that, I decided it was time to branch off and open my own hair salon. The landlord of my new salon was nice until after I signed my lease and kept threatening to evict me because I didn’t want to furnish my salon with his salon equipment that he had prior to my move-in. He had hair color from 1981!!! Then my landlord would access my salon when I wasn’t working and go through my belongings. Next, he noticed my clientele growing, and he constructed a new lease raising my rent and utility payment because he thought the initial rental agreement was only to help me. I knew it was time to leave. I went and leased a salon a few doors down and began purchasing items to furnish the salon. I came in one day, and the salon had leaked water from the previous evening and created puddles throughout the salon and all over my packages. I went to the basement, and there was water rushing through the door I noticed mold all over the basement so I contacted the landlord, and he was really disrespectful to me and upset that I went down there. He wouldn’t replace my damaged goods so I left, and he sued me. I researched and researched and found my dream salon. Although it was 3x the amount I was spending, I worked alone for almost 3 years in it until I found the right stylist and technicians to fill it. 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am not just a stylist; I’m a cosmetologist. I developed a passion and love for hair at such an early age, so my main focus grew towards growing and maintaining healthy hair. I specialize in natural hair, extensions, braids, and kids’ hair. I am most proud of the fact I leased a salon that is 4x the size of my first one and was able to maintain on my own for three years! I am also super proud of the platform I created, and now I style 7 Cincinnati Bengals players! What sets me apart from other stylists is that I love to give back to my community to help others. 

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I don’t believe my life and/or business has good luck; it has been blessed! Any time I felt I couldn’t handle the finances of the salon, I prayed for help, and coincidentally, my appointment book fills up quickly, and I will be able to pay my rent and utilities. I also won Ohio’s Top Stylist and Hair Salon two years in a row, and I’m currently nominated for 2022! 

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