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More than just business for local hair stylist
Seeking to help those in need

By Maria Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

While many businesses focus mainly on their own gain, a Henry County hair stylist is trying to accomplish more than just business.

Not only does she take care of her customers' hair, she offers assistance with other needs, such as finding a job, or knowing where to go -- if they have other problems.

Laketa Patrick, owner of Healing Touch Salon, located at the Peachtree Peddlers Flea Market, 155 Mill Road, McDonough, has sympathy for those in need of financial assistance, because she's been in their shoes. Though her salon has only been in business for eight months, when some of her customers come in for a hair cut, they walk out with a prospective employer's phone number and a smile on their face.

"I was cutting a lady's hair, and she told me she had to quit her job because they dropped her hours to three hours a day," said Patrick. "I gave her [a list] of jobs in a print-out, and I didn't charge her for her haircut."

According to Patrick, who is a Clayton County resident, she obtains job opportunities from her church congregation at Faith Walk Ministries, Inc., located at 6084 Riverdale Road, College Park. Church members collaborate, share information and create a flyer about what is available in the job market for those in need.

She said she also receives information through her own research, or from friends and family members. "I take flyers, and there's a table in my salon, and I put my flyers there," said Patrick. "What it does is help the needy with food, or a job."

She ensures that her customers see the table by decorating it with balloons and lollipops. For Patrick, the flyers provide her customers with networking opportunities to improve their troubled financial situations, while also bringing them some hope and relief that all is not lost.

When her hair salon opened in July of last year, she decided to take another approach in advertising her business. In addition to promoting her $10 haircuts with a complimentary shampoo, in flyers, Patrick also decided to personally invest in school supplies for children in the community who were preparing to return to school for the coming year, she explained.

According to Patrick, she bought 20 baskets at the dollar store, and filled them with goodies such as paper, pens, pencils, notebooks and other school materials the children needed for their education.

"There was a young lady that came back to thank me," said Patrick. "Every time she comes to the flea market, she runs and tries to find me."

Though Patrick has been in the cosmetology industry for 21 years, she is currently attending Griffin Technical College, in Griffin, Ga., where she plans to earn a business information technology certificate in December, as a back-up plan, in case her salon doesn't do as well as she hopes. The certificate, she said, will enable her to get a job in the administrative field.

"I am going to enhance my computer skills, and learn the updated versions of computer software," said Patrick. She said that before fate led her to establish the salon at Peachtree Peddlers Flea Market, she worked for a barber shop in the north-metro area. Her experience there was not a positive one, she said.

According to Patrick, during her two-year stint there, some of the barbers were, either convicted felons, or under the influence of drugs. Though she was looking for a way out of the company, no one was opening a door.

"I couldn't leave because I had a mortgage," she said.

During her employment there, she said, her doctor discovered that she had fibroid cancer, and she had to undergo surgery, though she was uninsured.

"After the surgery, I was out of work for a month and a week," she said. While she was unemployed, she sought loan approval to start her own hair salon. She said she visited every bank she could find, but only heard negative news from the lenders. Undaunted, though, she continued to pursue her dream of having her own shop.

"While I was driving in the car, the Holy Spirit told me to go to the flea market," said Patrick.

Fortunately, a spot was available, and it was affordable, she said. She set up shop, after traveling a long road to get there. According to Patrick, she was raised in Henry County, graduated from Griffin Technical College in 1994, with a cosmetology diploma, and obtained her license from the state in 1995. In 2000, she obtained a paralegal diploma from Atlanta Technical College.

"The salon," she said, "is my success story."