“Worth the fight”: Knot Our Hair salon perseveres

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At the front desk of Equalla Calloway’s salon, Knot Our Hair, a paper calendar is still returned through March 2020.

But Calloway said she doesn’t plan to change the page anytime soon.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic completely shut down many small businesses for months. Deemed non-essential, hair salons have been hit hard.

“March was when the world stopped,” Calloway said. “And I’m still here. That’s what it does for me, it makes me feel like I’m always there.

Known to her clients by the affectionate nickname “Q,” Calloway said people would tell her to change her schedule, but she refused. The frozen page is testimony, she says, that the salon remains alive.

Calloway has owned the storefront at 503 E. 4th St. since 2019. Her eldest daughter, Jada, is now following in her footsteps and studying to become an esthetician herself.

Jada Calloway said her mother’s perseverance inspires her to continue her education.

“I see her as that higher power,” she said. “She does a lot for us, and even now that she’s where she is, it’s like she won’t stop.”

Equalla Calloway said there was a shortage of African American salons in the area.

When she sat down to think about the names of her salon, she wanted to pay homage to her dream of starting a salon specializing in African American hair.

“How can I let people know this? Knots, folds. This is how we created Knot Our Hair,” she said.

Whether it’s locs, braids, bobs, coloring or cuts, Calloway said her top priorities are hair and scalp care to strengthen and protect her clients’ natural hair.

Despite the show’s current success, it took many years and even court battles for Calloway to secure the showcase of his childhood dreams.

Before starting her own business, Calloway worked at a salon in the Promenade Shops in Saucon Valley.

When she saw an ad for the Fourth Street storefront, she began negotiating with the landlord, made a deal to rent the space, and began working as an employee and paying partial rent for the salon.

“Strange things started happening,” she said. “I tried to push them away because I wanted (the space) so badly that I didn’t want to believe the obvious. One day, August 5, 2019, in the middle of Musikfest, I came to the living room door and the locks were changed.

Calloway said a week later, she hired an attorney and filed a small claims civil lawsuit, alleging wrongful eviction.

The owner then asked her to retrieve the things she still had in the living room.

“I came and something in my stomach said, ‘Get out of here with your things, and you’ll never see them again.’ I called my husband and said, ‘When they open the door, I’m not leaving,'” she said. “I slept here for a whole week.”

Calloway said she slept in the store until she could get the keys from the property owner.

After more than a year in court, she won her case and won full rights to the storefront after the wrongful eviction.

“I had never encountered evil like this,” Calloway said. “You hear stories, but unless it happens to you, it’s different. It’s crazy.”

In the midst of this court judgment, the previous owner took everything out of the living room.

The only vestige was the floors.

She said she needed to take matters into her own hands to get the salon back in shape.

“I walked in and it was empty. And I just cried like a baby,” she said. “And I wiped away the tears. The same day I went to Ace Hardware and taped the windows and started painting everything myself, literally everything.

Calloway said she had to become her own electrician, carpenter and painter to build her dream living room.

“I had to make ends meet by any means necessary,” she said. “When I wanted things, I had to go on Uber and Instacart. Those chandeliers, whatever you could find. I worked for her until I could open the doors a year later.

Equalla Calloway’s painting hangs in her living room at 503 E 4th St. in Bethlehem. Calloway had to remodel her living room herself, including her accent walls. (Nahjiah Miller/photo editor)

She said the adversity she had to overcome was worth every moment.

She says she doesn’t regret going through the whole process because she thought she had going through it all to have the living room of her dreams.

Calloway said she tells this story to clients when she feels they need their own inspiration.

“The reason I’m in the beauty industry, and I know I am, is to impact, to inspire, to make people feel good,” he said. she declared. “Because sometimes you might have a bad day, but if your hair is good, that bad day can go on as the best day.”

She said her job requires selflessness.

One of Calloway’s clients, Carla Weathers, said she went to find a local salon and found Calloway’s online reviews positive, so she made her first appointment. Since then, she has been a client.

“Q goes out of her way to make sure she’s focused on hair care,” Weathers said. “But it’s also the effort she puts into making sure the scalp is well cared for, the hair is cared for, it’s not over processed or over styled. She’s exceptional.

She said Calloway has been a lifesaver.

Weathers said it was unusual to find a stylist with such incredible style and interpersonal skills. She said she had a unique way of developing relationships with a wide range of clients.

“Q has all of these skills rolled into one,” she said. “She is truly extraordinary.”

Calloway said the simple act of conversing with people and listening to them has an impact. When a client sits in her chair, she says, it’s about putting your thoughts aside and giving your client your full attention.

Equalla Calloway braids clients’ hair at her salon, Knot Our Hair. She specializes in scalp and hair care for all of her clients. (Nahjiah Miller/photo editor)

Jada Calloway said she shares the same sentiments as her mother.

“Watching my friends, who I grew up with, and seeing them leave that chair, even if it’s just for this day or for this short time, feeling good, that’s enough for me,” Jada Calloway said.

While currently studying at cosmetology school for the state board test, Jada Calloway said her mother would often be a crutch for her when she practiced on her friends and clients in the salon.

Because the two have their own specialties, Jada Calloway said it allowed them to work as a team. She said that for a client, her mother did her hair and she did her makeup.

“I love when we do things like that, where we’re together on it,” Jada Calloway said. “I feel like as I got older I got closer to my mum, so that’s another thing we share.

Jada Calloway said she remembers feeling her mother finally had her dream come true when she saw her open the doors to Knot Our Hair.

“One day my dad posted on Instagram when he came to visit her at night,” she said. “He just took a video of her in the window working on a client. And I realized, ‘Wow, she got what she wanted.’

Equalla Calloway said four and a half years later she is still in awe of where she is today.

She considers her job a privilege, she said, honoring each unique relationship that forms when someone walks into Knot Our Hair.

“I tell people all the time that people who come here are supposed to be here,” Equalla Calloway said. “As a spiritual type thing, there is something that we are going to gain from each other. We didn’t meet for no reason. »

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