How Shampoo’ed is transforming hair and inspiring entrepreneurs
Latrece Nelson is a passionate and talented hairstylist, but it’s her passion for community that sets Shampoo’ed, her Milwaukee hair salon, apart. Read how Latrece is leveraging her small business to lift up her community.
Inspiration is at the center of everything Latrece Nelson does. When she was a teenager, she was inspired to learn how to do her own hair. In cosmetology school, she was inspired to open her own salon. Today, she’s inspiring young kids in the Milwaukee area to become the best versions of themselves through social, emotional and entrepreneurial programming. To top it all off, she and her team of stylists are also creating beautiful hairstyles.
What’s the origin story behind Shampoo’ed?
“When I was younger, my mother did my hair all the time. She didn’t bring me to a hair salon, and my hair used to be so messed up. So, when I was in high school, I started doing my own weave. It went okay, it definitely went better than my mother’s work, and I realized how people were attracted to what I was doing when I told them that I did my own. I had people start asking me if I could do their hair.”
“When I was in my early 20s, people started telling me I should start doing hair professionally. I didn’t want to commit to doing hair, but one day I went to a hair show, and that changed everything for me. The same month, I applied to cosmetology school. My mother was my inspiration. She passed [away] in 2019, but she inspired me. The communication I have with my clients and the relationships I create with them, that’s really my calling. I’m able to make a difference for their outer appearance, but their inner-beauty as well. I help people feel better from the inside out.”
What was it like opening your own salon?
“I tried to work for someone else, but I was only there for a few weeks. I opened up a hair salon with my brother-in-law while I was still going to cosmetology school. As time went on, I started handling things on my own. I learned that in business, you can’t rely on anyone but yourself to get things done. Luckily, at this stage, it’s me and my husband [running the business]. He’s also a barber. I actually met him at the hair show I went to that was so inspiring for me. We met, and I thought, ‘You’re a barber, I’m a stylist, let’s go!’”
What makes Shampoo’ed a unique business in Milwaukee?
“Shampoo’ed is unique because we don’t just care how your hair looks — we care about the health of your hair. Originally, we catered to natural haired gals with textured hair. Now, Shampoo’ed is simply known for lavishness. It’s hair, it’s beauty, it’s a vibe, it’s an energy and it’s about your inner-beauty. Being able to coach people through caring for their hair, whether they’re wearing a weave, straightener, or naturally, it’s all still hair. It’s about helping individuals step up into the next level of their lives in every aspect, including their hair. Shampoo’ed is about a lifestyle — a lavish one!”
Do you have a favorite thing about owning a salon?
“I love that every day, I set the example. No matter what I’m going through, I have to remember that people are looking up to me. Whether that’s grown women or young girls to be that person, and they’re inspired by me. What they look up to is, they get to see someone in this industry that looks like them and comes from where they come from. That’s the biggest component for me. A lot of those girls don’t see that reflected at home, so we’re actually starting some social and emotional development courses to emphasize the idea that they can do it too, and they have the keys to success with them now.”
How are Shampoo’ed’s development courses helping kids in Milwaukee?
“We’ve built our own complete curriculum that speaks on identity, spirituality, how to acknowledge trauma and decision-making. It’s a 4-week course, and outside of classes, we’re working to build the kids up to another level. If they want to pursue entrepreneurship, we try to connect them with someone in Milwaukee who can mentor them and potentially provide an internship. If they end up being a good fit for the business, we always hope they can get hired on. Those capabilities are what made my business what it is now. I want to share those entrepreneurial skills with kids so they can thrive at work, at school and in their relationships.”
What makes small businesses so powerful?
“We are the closest fixtures to our community. Most large businesses don’t have entrepreneurs in their operation to set that example. When it’s a small business, there are community members working inside, thriving and supplying demand. People actually have direct contact with us, and I think that’s a big component. People see how we conduct ourselves, and how resilient we are in certain situations. We are the pillars of our community. We are the ones who reach down and pull others up. So many people come in wondering how we got started, out of the blue. Giving them points on why we do what we do sends them the message that they can do this, too. We are trying to build the community that supports us.”
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