WHEN Dani Oglesby studied hairdressing at the Regency Beauty Institute in Indianapolis, all but one training mannequin had fine, straight hair. In the decade since, she’s often been the only Black hairdresser in a salon—and the only one familiar with ethnic hairstyling.
There’s a big gap in the industry, she says. Because many salons boasting that “all hair types are welcome” actually lack the tools, products, and education necessary for coarse or curly hair, those clients tend to spend longer times in the styling chair, risk hair damage from incorrect treatments, and leave disappointed. Some clients have been charged extra fees for natural hair or asked to return another day when a stylist trained in textured hair would be in, driving them to seek out specialized salons dedicated to their hair type.
“There’s no reason why these women shouldn’t be able to go into a DryBar or Great Clips and get the same great experience as other clients,” Oglesby says.
She came to the rescue with BaeBar, a multicultural pop-up salon staffed by hairstylists trained to perform silk presses and blowouts on all hair textures.
Her first challenge was earning the trust of women who harbor negative experiences from blowout bars. She started small last fall by launching monthly pop-ups at her mother’s Pure Essence Salon on the northeast side. Each blowout began with a consultation to determine the appropriate styling irons, shampoo, and conditioner, and ended with enough happy customers that the pop-ups became a hit. Spots booked within an hour of being announced in Oglesby’s “Bae-Watch” e-newsletter.
This year, Oglesby will expand the pop-ups to a salon tour around the city and state. She also plans to open a BaeBar location in Fishers and add Mommy and Me classes for women who have adopted daughters with different hair textures than their own.