Tomeka James is an innovator, instructor, salon owner, and founder of both the Stylist and Salon Owners Network (SSON) — an organization that brings salon professionals in the beauty industry together — as well as Extensions Expo — an annual educational hair show for stylists. As an innovator, she created multiple innovative and new weaving techniques and methods, including the Detachable Sewn Weave, the Mekani Weaving Technique, and the Roll-N-Sew Method, among others. As an instructor, she has educated so many stylists about styling techniques, business etiquette, marketing, and so much more. With all that she does her main focus is to continually build up stylists with both education and motivation, and clearly, she’s been doing an absolutely fabulous job.
We were the proud headline sponsor for her most recent Extensions Expo, which was held in Newark, NJ, this past September. Check out our Facebook page for pictures from the event!
Read on to learn more about who this superwoman is, and how she is able to do all the amazing things that she does:
Why did you decide to become a cosmetologist/hairstylist?
I love making people happy and beautiful. I love to see the joy on their faces when they are finished getting their hair done.
Tell us the story about how you became the owner of your own salon, and then the founder of the Stylist and Salon Owner Network (SSON)?
I sort of feel like I was forced to be a salon owner. I worked in salons that were very unprofessional, and I wanted to create a special environment. Clients were in need of a relaxed environment that provided hair loss solutions, and clients deserved privacy and quality service.
SSON was created because I know a lot of stylist that just needed a place to talk to their peers. Most hair stylist can’t take their problems from work into the home. Many professional connections were made through this organization.
Those are two amazing feats — owning a salon and maintaining an established network of stylists/salon owners. What drives and motivates you to do everything that you do? How do you stay motivated?
I am motivated by the fact that everyday is a challenge. I see clients that have a desire for a style that I have never done, and I have to figure out how I can do what they want. I get to create new methods all the time. I have created many weaving techniques simply because there were no solutions. I also have a strong desire to help others. I feel that if I have information that can help someone else, I am willing to help them.
I stay motivated by reading business/motivational materials. Sometimes I need a little push so I feed myself by reading. I keep at least 2 books on my treadmill. I have one that just has motivational quotes. So, if I need a little pick-me-up, I open it. Sometimes I post what I just read on IG or FB so I can share it with others who may need it too.
I also love watching Oprah! Soul Sundays inspires me. I also enjoy watching Masterclass. It shows me how so many successful people started and failed but prevailed in the end. I learn from other peoples’ mistakes. I also learn from their accomplishments.
I¹m sure you¹ve encountered difficulties and struggles on your journey towards success. How did you overcome them?
I have had countless difficulties that I could write a book on. I commit the problem to memory. I make sure it doesn’t happen again. I look at the problem as a small lesson that could have been bigger. I do a lot of praying too. I remain grateful for any small piece of success that I have. I know that any challenge I have can result in either helping someone else or even creating a new product or technique. If I dealt with something, there has to be someone else that needs to know how to handle that in advance.
What words of advice do you have for aspiring cosmetologists/hairstylists?
Use your time wisely. Take lots of classes. You must have a love for this industry to be a successful artist. You won’t last long if you don’t love what you do. Pay attention in hair school. You need everything you learned. You just don’t know it yet. 😉
If you’re a hairstylist, be sure to reach out to Tomeka via Instagram or Facebook and stay connected! She has tons of resources on her website, including DVDs and books about weaving techniques and the salon business. You will definitely want to check that out!