Tameka Stigers is passionate about seeing more Black-owned businesses serving the needs of the Black community.
“We [Blacks] are consumers,” Stigers said. “We’re always consuming and not owning. We have to change that.”
Stigers is being the change.
Awarded the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2019 Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year in her Missouri district, Stigers, owner of Locs of Glory salon and spa in St. Louis, Missouri, went on to start two more businesses in 2021.
Black Beauty Supply is on Delmar Boulevard less than 100 feet from Locs of Glory. Stigers’ new Locs of Glory salon is a bit farther away — in Ghana, West Africa.
Stigers began doing hair out of her home as a sideline while pursuing a master’s degree at Saint Louis University. It was just supposed to be something to do to earn some money until she finished school and began a career in public health.
“It turned out to be way more than that,” Stigers said.
After a brief stint on the job market postgraduation, she decided to keep doing hair.
“Business was picking up, and there weren’t a lot of people in St. Louis providing the niche service I was providing,” Stigers said.
That niche service was natural hair care for Black people by Black people, featuring Sisterlocks, a unique styling technique for textured hair.
When Stigers decided to incorporate Locs of Glory in 2009, she went to Grace Hill Women’s Business Center, a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) resource partner, to learn more about running a business. There, Stigers learned about the numbers — profit and loss and capital — and she developed a business plan.
Initially, Stigers ran the salon from her home. It went from the basement to a bedroom to the remodeled back porch. After receiving a (7a) loan from the SBA in 2016, Stigers was able to get a storefront and relocated Locs of Glory to a 3,000-square-foot building.
It was in 2019 while she was participating in the SBA’s Emerging Leaders Initiative that Stigers met a business specialist with the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in St. Louis and began a one-on-one mentorship.
“Then COVID happened and shut everything down,” Stigers said.
Locs of Glory not only survived the shut-down, it came back stronger due to the capital Stigers was able to obtain through government-sponsored loans and grants.
Those funds enabled Stigers to work on the three-year strategic plan she had developed in the Emerging Leaders program, a key component of which was to hire a full-time manager for Locs of Glory.
Stigers said the addition of a full-time manager has drastically changed how the salon runs. And it has given her more time to focus on Black Beauty Supply.
Stigers started Black Beauty Supply last February to, again, have another business serving Black people in her community that is owned by a Black person.
A few months later, Stigers reconnected with the Missouri SBDC and began a new mentorship with business specialist Lynette Watson, regional director of the Missouri SBDC in the St. Louis Region.
“With Tameka, it’s been probably 60 percent coaching and 40 percent business counseling,” Watson said. “She really gets the business counseling part. The coaching is, ‘Hey, Tameka, you got this … you can do this.’”
She is “very forward-thinking and visionary” and “a smart, astute businesswoman,” Watson said of Stigers. “She’s always looking to grow, she’s always looking to learn, and she’s always looking to give back.”
“We started meeting every other week, and it was basically support … and talking about the logistics of everything,” Stigers said.
The current focus of their mentoring sessions is the Black Beauty Supply numbers. Stigers said there is an upward trend for the four quarters it has been in business, so she’s hopeful.
We’ve kept the expenses as low as we can, but we need to strategize to increase our revenues, Stigers said.
One strategy under consideration is delivery to the many salons and barbershops within a mile radius of the supply store.
The story of how her third business, Locs of Glory in Ghana, came to be is the tale of an intrepid entrepreneur.
Ghana was calling to Stigers. She felt drawn to it, even dreams of moving there someday. So, she and her family made a trip there last year.
“I didn’t go there looking for a business opportunity,” Stigers said. “I went to connect.”
But a business opportunity found her.
Stigers met a man who was doing hair “mobile” because he couldn’t afford a physical space. They got to talking, and now they are business partners.
That partnership, formed in September 2021, is just months old, but Stigers plans to visit regularly and train the stylists her partner is able to hire.
In the meantime, Stigers is excited about returning to Ghana at the end of the month and meeting with a man Watson introduced her to who has connections there.
And as if running three business were not enough, Stigers is currently in a nail technician program with the goal of becoming an instructor. She wants to develop a program to train young Black women to run a nail business so they can make an honest living to pay their bills and take care of their kids.
She has a vision of nail salons in her community run by people who look like her. “It’s not that I want to force anybody else out, but there’s room for us to do it, too,” Stigers said.
Locs of Glory
Black Beauty Supply LLC
Locs of Glory in Ghana