Native Richmond songstress Kaneik Ferguson is in the self-esteem business.
So it came as no surprise to her husband, Trevor, that nearly five years ago Kaneik had an idea to launch a business specializing in personal style.
After developing a business plan and securing a few vendors, in 2014, Kaneik launched Richmond-based Styletress – an online beauty shop specializing in hair extensions, accessories, makeup, jewelry and shoes.
“When you look good, you feel good,” Kaneik, CEO of Styletress, said in a recent interview, wearing black Chanel earrings that matched her purse. “And that’s where my business concept came from. I wanted to provide an outlet for women to find what they needed to look and feel good… that’s what my business is all about.”
Now, in a bid to keep fueling her 2-year-old business, Kaneik is bringing some of that style to Jackson Ward.
Styletress opened a 750-square-foot brick-and-mortar store at 212 E. Clay St. – a block north of the estate of another self-made female entrepreneur: Maggie L. Walker, the first female bank president to charter a bank in the U.S.
“Word is getting out about Styletress, so I wanted to add to the growth and momentum,” she said.
The store is a small physical operation, Kaneik said, because a large percentage of her business is online. Over time, she plans to increase her workforce and firm up hours at the Jackson Ward location.
“I wanted a place that would showcase some of the things that we offer online,” Kaneik said. “This location gives us that platform.”
Half of the Styletress location is a showroom and store, and Kaneik plans to turn the rest into a beauty bar – allowing clients to have their faces professionally done with cosmetic products sold on her firm’s website and in the store.
While the hours might change, Kaneik said the store currently is open for appointments only Monday through Wednesday; and from noon to 5:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. The store is closed on Sunday.
Trevor, Styletress’ co-owner, said the company spent nearly $40,000 to launch the new store – that includes purchasing the retail suites that are accessible via Third Street, equipment and renovations.
The business of beauty is a multi-billion-dollar international industry and Kaneik said the key to success is diversification of services and products that reach all consumers.
“I don’t want this business venture, by any means, to be strictly urban,” she said, touching on a stereotype that most hair businesses started by black women are strictly for black women. “We’re going to offer a number of product lines for everyone, regardless of race, skin texture, hair texture… this store will be for all women.”
Richmond will be Styletress’ home base, Kaneik said, allowing her to focus on her music. Under the alias Kay Tunes, Kaneik has traveled near and far, opening for big R&B acts like Marsha Ambrosius and Erykah Badu.
Kaneik said she has upcoming plans to expand Styletress up and down the Eastern Seaboard, with her sights set on major U.S. metros like Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington, D.C. She also plans to open locations in the Hampton Roads area and Midlothian.
“I’m a Richmond girl, so this is home for me,” Kaneik said. “I’m excited about what’s happening in the city. So much has changed in Richmond, and I’m thrilled that Styletress is going to be a part of that change.”