She styles hair - naturally

Jamal and Abenaa Timazee started their Brownstone Natural Hair Salon in 2001 with just $1,000 and rented equipment. (DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Jamal and Abenaa Timazee started their Brownstone Natural Hair Salon in 2001 with just $1,000 and rented equipment. (DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: April 11, 2013

 A BENAA, 35, and Jamal Timazee, 46, of West Mount Airy, own Brownstone Natural Hair Salon, on South Street near 17th, which they began in 2001. Jamal oversees accounting and payroll, and Abenaa trains staff. The husband and wife also make their own natural hair products. Abenaa was recently interviewed by MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry during a symposium at Penn about the politics of black-women's hair. We spoke with Abenaa.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Brownstone?

A: I worked for my mother, who was in the business, and saved every month. We started Brownstone with $1,000 and rented equipment. As income from my salon grew, I swapped out rental furniture and hair equipment and purchased my own stuff.

Q: And the name Brownstone?

A: Brown represents nature and stone is strong, so our name represents natural strength.

Q: What is natural hair?

A: We don't use any chemicals that change the structure of hair. We twist [hair] but we don't do [chemical] relaxers or perms. We don't use hair-curling irons. Our tools are our hands.

Q: Is that what sets you apart?

A: Yes, we use only natural, plant-based products. Alcohol, petroleum and sulfates dry out the hair, and everything that breeds life and vitality needs moisture.

Q: Your hair-care products are called Feng Shui Organics.

A: The product line is based on the five elements of feng shui - metal, fire, water, earth and wood - and it's all handmade by us. We have several stores that carry the product, and we also sell from a website and the salon. The products sell for $10 to $25.

Q: Describe your brand, please.

A: It's a healthy, holistic way of personal care and grooming. I have a cosmetology license and do all types of natural hair. Having a natural-hair stylist is like having a good doctor. Once you get one, you don't leave.

Q: What inspires your craft?

A: I love to customize style to different clients. I study hair styles from the '20s and the '60s, and I'm also inspired by hats. So, I love to look at different hats and re-create those styles with hair.

Q: Tell me about your clients.

A: I have clients who've been with me for 15 to 20 years. I've styled several celebrities, including [the late] Teddy Pendergrass, Jill Scott, Jaguar Wright and some ex-Eagles, Donte Stallworth and Vaughn Hebron. Anthea Butler [a Penn professor] is also a client.

Q: How much do services cost?

A: It can range anywhere from $18 to $1,600. It depends on what you want done.

Q: How big a business is this?

A: $250,000 to $500,000 in revenue last year.

Q: How many full-time employees work at Brownstone?

A: We have seven.

Q: What's next?

A: I want to open another salon. I believe natural hair is the wave of the future. My fastest-growing clientele is between the ages of 40 and 60, because they want to keep what hair they have.

On Twitter: @MHinkelman

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