One look at Tammy Fleming’s hair salon, located in Southeast Houston, automatically gives a vibe that she is ready for action, serious about her craft, and enjoys styling her client’s hair into beautiful styles they’ll never forget. Working in excellence for over two decades, Ms. Fleming can be pictured “tammifying” her clients by giving them curly, twisted, and healthy styles that they can be proud of.
A licensed cosmetologist, real estate broker, spoken poet, fashion and beauty lover, Ms. Flemings runs operations at her salon called TrendzbyTammy. As a New Orleans native, she has been in the cosmetology business for over 26 years. At her hair salon, Ms. Fleming manages, trains and instructs young hairstylists on how to execute quality hairstyles for both relaxed and natural hair. She also loves words; performing spoken word poetry and working on a poetry book that she hopes to publish soon. Her life has been a series of trials and pain, but she admits she has come a long way and is proud of her journey.
“I grew up in foster care because my mother was murdered,” she told BLKPRENEURSHIP.com. “I was raised in a girls home and was a ward of the state, and I was only able to go to a state university, so I chose Xavier University. I never had to pay any tuition.” Graduating with a degree in accounting, she wanted to have a degree that she knew would quickly secure her a job as she was good with money, but she ended up pursuing cosmetology school. “I spoke to the owner and told her up front that I would like to work for them, and I said I would like to pay as I go. She replied that this would be ok, and I think I only made one or two payments and then they never asked me for another payment, they actually let me graduate without making any payments.”
Ms. Flemings has always loved hair, as it started with knowing a hairdresser as a young girl. “I saw my young sister who started doing hair in sixth grade. We would get our hair done by a woman who knew us and offered to do our hair professionally for two years, without cost. When I got older, I offered to pay her as I was responsible and could support myself at the time, and then I asked her if I could work for her. She was honored; today we are actually still close.”
Ms. Fleming soon opened her own salon but was finding trouble managing between her real estate properties and her salon. “With my real estate, I wasn’t going to be at the salon as much but I still wanted the salon to be up and running and functioning even when I was not there. I noticed that the ladies I hired were lazy and when there were no customers, they wanted to go home and do nothing, and I didn’t want to fire them because I wanted us all to be successful. So I had enough to pay them, which I decided to do so they could help out with the salon and around their booths. I’ve been doing that for about 14 years now.”
Ms. Fleming loves to teach her students and doesn’t let them start working on clients until she sees they are ready and can handle clients, sharing “The ladies don’t realize that working at my salon is almost like a continuation of school. They definitely get clients to do, but I identify their strengths and weaknesses and I don’t put them with a client until I’ve already seen that they are capable of doing that style professionally.” Ms. Fleming sees value in teaching her students excellently, just as her previous mentors taught her. “There’s so many things I’ve been able to capitalize on and succeed at because when I’m in the moment, I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing. When you’re new, you don’t have to feel bad about not knowing how to do something. If you’ve been doing something for ten to fifteen years and you don’t know how to do something, then it should be embarrassing to ask. It’s ok to be a child and to learn what you’re supposed to instead of pretending that you already know all there is to know, or that there isn’t anything you need to know.”
Ms. Fleming’s salon has a nice touch of old school to it, with a painting of a grandmother doing hair against orange walls that pop with color. “It’s very important for me to create a feeling of comfort and warmth and a feeling of old school,” she shared. “That photo is the only photo of its kind,” she added. “It was custom made and I asked the painter if he could paint me a grandmother in the kitchen doing hair, with the hot comb and the smoke and he gave me exactly what I wanted.”
One obstacle that Ms. Fleming faces when it comes to her business endeavors is that she fears her resources and her support will not be able to keep up with her mind. “I feel like I’m nowhere near my potential, and as I get older, I know there’s things that are available to me now that were not available to me when my kids were younger. The main thing is not having the resources and support as a small business owner.”
Ms. Fleming’s favorite quote she likes to tell herself is our situation is due to our decisions, more so than our circumstance. “If you and I both grow up in the projects, and I go to school and get a good job and you go to robbing banks and end up going to jail, you can’t say that you went to jail because you grew up in the projects, your consequence was due to your decision, not your circumstance. I grew up in the projects as well, and I just made decisions different than yours.”
Ms. Fleming wants people to know that she has learned that you can’t discount hard work and persistence. “One thing about me is I will use whatever I need to use to get, even if that means the person might feel sorry for me. I am not ashamed of talking about my past.” While purchasing her first shop, Ms. Fleming let the shop owner know that she was not going to be irresponsible with her shop, way after the owner expressed that she did not want Ms. Fleming with the shop. With that lesson, Ms. Fleming learned to sell herself, and that she can turn a no into a yes, which is something she teaches her two sons. “I’ve already been told no, so what do I have to lose? ” she shared. “The worst that can happen is being told no again. But what if I can turn that no into a yes?”
Ms. Fleming can also be found on YouTube as Houston Poet Authentic Deception, where she shares her spoken poetry.
Visit Tammy Fleming on Instagram here.
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