Tall, dreadlocked, and beautiful, Nefertiti used to be a model. She is the owner of Textures by Nefertiti
, a natural hair care salon and spa on Cass in Midtown. This Chicago native has made Detroit her home, and you can find her at her shop five days a week, which is where she was on a recent Friday afternoon, chatting with a female customer. As she spoke, her fingers moved effortlessly through the woman's hair with speed and precision.
"I'm grooming her locks," she explains. "I put a little bit of water based solution on her hair, wash her hair, sometimes we do conditioning. We do hot oil treatments and then we begin the process of taking in the new growth and wrapping it into the existing lock."
She started her salon just down the street in the Spiral Collective seven years ago. As Nefertiti's business expanded so did her need for workspace. She opened her salon in the same West Willis Village neighborhood in Midtown about a year ago. Although she had plenty of opportunities to move elsewhere, she says she chose to stay nearby because she sees the area's potential.
"The businesses here work very well together; we all complement each other," she says. "I think that the whole competitive way of thinking is passé. There has to be a fundamental change if we want to be successful, because what we have to understand is we're all connected, and one person's demise is your demise too."Change and transformation
That's a lesson she learned from her mother, who used to march with Martin Luther King and would "drag" her along. Raised to be an activist, Nefertiti says that from a young age she was taught to understand that she had a connection to everyone, and that she was not only responsible for herself, but others as well.
"You're not on this island alone. You have a responsibility to be a force to help change. To be a change agent," she says. "That was the talk I had coming up."
These days "change" means a total transformation of mind, body and spirit. Think of it as a realization of beauty, which Nefertiti describes as "a connection of what's going on in the inner world and how it reflects the outer." A lifetime ago, when she was a model, she says that her "attention changed" and she became disenchanted with the industry's superficial definition of beauty. Wanting to move toward a more natural standard, she began to embrace a more holistic side of the health and beauty world.
"It's why I got involved with natural hair and doing workshops on how to understand who you are from the inside," she says. "When I think about beauty I don't think about the outside, the aesthetic; I don't think about what you can actually physically see. It is the essence, the pure essence of something, of a person -- that's where beauty lives."
Nefertiti says the relationship with her clients is as much social as it is business. "Sometimes, when I'm with a person I get impressions of some things I need to talk about, and I share them, they listen and change happens," she says. It's one of the ways she nurtures her relationship with her customers.
Nefertiti is avid city gardener, too. Back in April of 2008, her personal perennial flower garden and involvement with The Greening of Detroit caught the eye of Oprah Magazine, which featured her in a story about urban gardening in Detroit. "It was one of my most exciting moments," she says. As Nefertiti sees it, there is a direct link to working with the earth to grow plants and working with the body to grow hair. "I don't think there's a separation between the energy that emits from the hands to the earth to what grows out of your head," she says. "It's a constant flow of energy."
Nefertiti's shop is tranquil; the peaceful sound of falling water complements the scent of burning aroma oils. Crystals are scattered throughout the store. She explains that they are used to help balance a person's energy. "Every particular crystal holds its own property -- a spiritual property, a healing property," she says. "You have to understand how to use the crystal, how to exhume the energy of the crystal to help create balance."
Nefertiti has found that energy and balance in West Willis Village. "I know I'm where I'm supposed to be right now," she says. "I'm clear about that."Textures by
Nefertiti is at 4147 Cass in Midtown. Call 313-831-4771.
Ian Perrotta lives in Hamtramck and is Model D's spring intern. Send feedback here. All Photographs © Marvin Shaouni Photography
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