Byline: Alicia Wilson

Favorite throwback hairstyle: a swoop with a crinkle ponytail

Hair crush: Ciara 

Hey, Hair Creeps! I have a great hair entanglement story for us this week! Our story starts with Totteanna Shanklin. A former 15-year cosmetologist turned tech entrepreneur and founder of the SWME app, Mrs. Shanklin went back and forth with hair. However, she never gave up on the relationship because she knew it was important. No matter what industry she went into, hair was always there for her. So instead of breaking up, she changed her relationship, giving this entanglement story a great ending.

Working in the hair industry has its ups and downs, but there are so many different avenues that you can explore. Being in the hair industry does not mean that you necessarily have to do hair; you can do so many things because the hair industry is like a big machine. There are different components that make it move. Mrs. Shanklin discovered her niche in the hair industry, allowing her entanglement with hair to continue instead of getting a divorce.

Love at first sight

Our entanglement story started in middle school, when Shanklin started her hair journey by braiding. She kind of played around with the idea of being a braider and once she got to high school there was a cosmetology program that was being offered. During her sophomore year of high school, she decided to look into that program. What ultimately got her into it was her best friend, who was also interested in the hair industry. She introduced Shanklin to the hair industry; they became a unit and started taking the hair industry series together. It was in this program that she mastered doing extensions. Her friend taught her all the new techniques and how to get clients. Shanklin took hair seriously, but at the time it was still a side job. Even though she had all her credits to acquire her cosmetology license, she never took the test. She continued to work other jobs such as at KFC and Foot Locker.

Do you know the girl in college that everybody’s looking for? The one that does your hair so you don’t end up going home crying to your mama — I’m talking about you lost your edges. Shanklin was that girl. She created flyers and started to pass them out around the dorm, building her client base and mastering her craft. Going to Texas Southern University where a lot of women were away from home looking for someone to do the hair, Shanklin took advantage of the opportunity. This is where the space in between Shanklin and hair started to shift.

During her sophomore year in college, Shanklin was working at Home Depot. Her checks came every two weeks, but would never even make it to the $400 mark. She was getting so frustrated with the situation that she even told her mom she could make the same amount of money doing hair in just two days. Asking herself why she was working this job, she told herself she needed to take hair more seriously. Even though she never thought that doing hair would be the career she would go for, she knew it was a better opportunity than working for other people.

Married to hair

After college, Shanklin started to take the idea of doing hair as a career seriously. She received her license in 2010, finally getting married to hair! Soon after getting married, she rented out her first booth, ending the entanglement. Shanklin started to see the benefits of hair, but she knew the hair industry had more to do. She realized that a person could take different routes in the hair industry and be successful. It was the idea of turning tech that ultimately helped Shanklin develop her relationship with hair. 

In 2015, Shanklin started her first business outside of the hair industry, an e-commerce vintage eyeglasses business. Then she opened other stores like vintage thrift shops. When opening up these businesses she started to catch the bug for e-commerce. When it came to doing hair, she never really looked at herself as an entrepreneur; she just felt like she did hair. But when she started her e-commerce business, that’s when she started to look at herself as an entrepreneur.  This allowed her to step away from the chair and explore her creativity.

Shanklin first got her urge to get out from behind the chair in 2018. She understood the struggle and high demands that came with being a service provider, especially when it came to the holidays. There were high demands on her schedule to service everyone and make money. 

Taking a break in June 2018 and then finding out that she was pregnant with her daughter in August gave her the opportunity to step away from the chair and discover the entrepreneurial  side of the hair even more. In December 2019, she really put the nail in the coffin. She was traveling from Houston to Dallas to see family and being the hustler that she is, she decided to take clients on the way to Dallas. Problems arose when the extension was not showing up on time and she had to make it to Dallas on Christmas eve. Still having to deal with customers and doing hair at the last minute meant that she was not able to enjoy the holidays. Something sparked in Shanklin. She didn’t know if it was a mental breakdown or a spiritual awakening. She told herself this would be the last holiday where she was hustling and bustling. 

She set a goal for January 2020 that she would be done working behind the chair by the end of the year. And she put actions behind her plan. Then COVID-19 came and with salons being forced to shut down she was able to focus more on our e-commerce business anyway.

So, she took the opportunity and ran with it. She still serviced some of her clients after the salon opened back up, but her mind was made up on where she was headed.

What is the SWME app? 

Understanding that the property has so many different moving parts — like paying rent or filling out maintenance requests — Shanklin wanted to solve a problem that a lot of suites have. The SWME app is a place for suite and salon owners to do everything in one location. 

The SWME app helps streamline communication and operation. For example, instead of doing paperwork, the app has online fillable forms and portable requests. SWME allows you to request or to upload documents. Also, it has a request option for you to send a maintenance request. And then you’ll get a timeline of when your request will be filled. This limits the middleman and hard labor involved with processing a request, taking the stress off the suite or salon owner.

SWME gives suite and salon owners the opportunity to cut down on office time. Instead of sitting in your office all day dealing with paperwork, this app lets you do it from your phone. You can even oversee the process and be clued into what’s going on. Now owners can enjoy their work more and focus on things like ensuring that their customers are happy. 

SWME is a business-to-business app. The perfect clientele for this app would be suite and salon owners looking for an opportunity to make their lives easier. If you are a franchise or a new salon owner, I promise you this is the app that you need to help run your business.