From left are Simone and Yanique Hylton, founders of Natural Trendsetters.
BY ERICA VAN BUREN
Special to South Florida Times
TAMARAC, Fla. – The Hylton sisters prove that keeping it in the family can help make a business successful and thriving. Natural Trendsetters, one of the most popular natural hair salons in South Florida, got its start naturally.
“I always had a knack for braiding,” said Simone Hylton, co-owner of the Tamarac-based salon. “When I went away to college, I couldn’t really figure out what I wanted to do. I just knew I liked working with people. So, I felt like psychology was a good fit. While I was there, I was doing a lot of hair, so I started charging people to do their hair. I thought maybe I should try to do it professionally.”
Hylton said she left college and headed to beauty school because it just made more sense.
“I realized when I got there, that there wasn’t much on natural hair or black hair period,” said Hylton. “There weren’t any options for black hair.”
On the day dedicated to educating students on black hair, Hylton explained that the instructor wrote the words “chemical straighteners” on the board. ‘When we teach you how to cut hair and everything on white hair, to do it on African American hair you have to relax it and then do the same thing,’ said the instructor.
“There was no other option but relaxer,” Hylton said. “So, I started really looking around and noticing that all we were really wearing was relaxers. After I graduated beauty school I worked in some salons in New York and I saw that everything was about relaxers. There was no real lane for a braider. No real lane for anybody doing anything but cut and color.”
Hylton said she kept going back to what the instructor said while increasingly noticing that black women were leaning towards weaves and trying to mimic a standard of beauty that was been set by the industry.
“So, it all comes back to this visual of beauty that’s out there,” said Hylton.
“That’s when I really started looking for an alternative. I found a salon that was going out of business. The lady that owned the salon had an allergic reaction to chemicals. She was forced to close her business. My sister [Yanique Hylton] and I saw it together. Long story short, she be came my partner.”
Initially, the plan was for the duo to work together, with Yanique handling the business side of things and Simone handling all things hair care until Simone could find another partner.
“But, here we are 20 years later and she’s one of the top stylists in our salon,” said Hylton. “We were the first natural hair salon in South Florida. We really gave birth to the industry here in this market.”
When they searched for a name, their mother came to the rescue.
“My mom said, ‘What about Natural Trendsetters?’ I kept rolling it around in my head,” said Hylton. “Finally, I was like that’s it. It says it in the title what we’re doing. We’re not just doing natural hair; we’re setting a natural trend. We’re giving birth to this thing. It just fit.”
Now that natural hair has become extremely popular, Natural Trendsetters is still considered a leader in the industry.
“The biggest thing about our salon is, that Trudy and I are sisters and partners,” Hylton shared. “We really push the sisterhood, not just with the staff, but with the customers as well. We’ve always wanted to work in a family type of environment, so we really try to set that at the salon.”
Natural Trendsetters offers customers more than just a hairstyle.
“When we opened, it became a place for women to really build their self-esteem and learn to love themselves rather than just coming to get their hair done. Another thing that separates us even from other natural salons is that we are on a self-healing journey,” said Hylton. “Before looking good we’re really big on hair care.
We teach our staff that if the hair is healthy it’s going to look good regardless of what you do.”
To expand the brand without compromising quality, Hylton said, “For the future of the business we are looking into franchising.”
The duo operated three salons for about seven years; but decided to shift their focus from quantity to quality. “So, this way if people purchase franchises they get the system, they get the format and the culture but, they have to run the business. With the franchise idea, we can support the salon owners and build the brand rather than just trying to have multiple salons.”
The salon is also known for its strong presence in the community.
“We do a Hair Expo which is all about community building,” said Hylton. “It’s really about teaching self-love and giving good visuals of women and men in their natural state, just trying to break that cookie cutter beauty element.”
Natural Trendsetters is located at 7247 NW 88th Ave, Tamarac, FL. Visit http://naturaltrendsetters.com