A Hair Boutique offers a boost in confidence

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Just be beautiful: restoring confidence and empowering women is the mission of A Hair Boutique Shadyside.

Open for less than six weeks, owner Latoya Johnson-Rainey is diligently working to make her customers comfortable, relaxed, and to feel beautiful as she helps restore their confidence to being beautiful.

“Women go through a lot during their lifetime. My goal is to help them regain and maintain that self-assurance,” she said.

A soft-spoken and compassionate woman, Johnson-Rainey recognizes the reasons and circumstances why women experience hair loss, a contributor to low self-esteem. “It could be due to stress, medical issues, cancer treatments, age or heredity,” she explained. As a result, she says she specializes in wigs for fashion and medically caused hair loss, skincare for compromised skin and skin undergoing cancer treatments.

Located at 5510 Centre Ave., A Hair Boutique, offers its customers a stock of semi-custom and custom wigs of various styles and textures, clip-in extensions and bangs, wiglets, halo wigs, scarves, turbans and hair gear as well as hair care products for wigs and natural hair. She offers wig styling, repair and wig prep.

On the second floor in the Pop-up Shop Loft, which is available for rentals, she hosts special events including wig parties, style mixers, skin and nail care clinics, interactive styling sessions, trunk and jewelry shows, photo shoots and book parties. Already she has events set for December 13 and 21.

Aware of what it is like and how it feels when looking for items as personal as wigs and skincare, Johnson-Rainey says it is important to her to provide customers with a comfortable, private and upscale atmosphere.

Around the hair business most of her life, Johnson-Rainey worked in her mother’s beauty salon since the age of seven cleaning floors and working her way up as she got older. Most recently she was employed at Sisters Beauty Supply, her family’s business in the wig department. Owned by her aunts and cousins, the store has locations downtown Pittsburgh, Aliquippa and Charlotte, NC. She was inspired to be an entrepreneur by her high school counselor, the late Dr. Gloria Spencer who was in charge of the Business and Finance Department at Westinghouse High School.

Her first business venture was ASM Services, a notary, loan closing, personnel assistance business which she operated until the economy changed. Her academic preparation includes attending Community College of Allegheny County, the University of Phoenix and in December she will receive her Master’s in Business Administration from Carlow University in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

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THIS IS IT—One of Latoya Johnson-Rainey’s biggest supporters, Josephine Mukwita, her grandmother finds a wig for her style.

Even though she is preparing herself educationally, she has years of experience working in the hair business and with people, Johnson-Rainey admits that it is not enough. “Operating your own businesses is a lot of work and takes time, desire and organization.” To get to where she is now she says she worked two jobs, is in school and she and her husband Dwayne have made sacrifices. Her advice to potential entrepreneurs is to budget and save, to get a solid foundation and not to underestimate marketing costs. “Plan, plan and plan,” she emphasizes. Even though I have a business plan there are things you don’t know and learn until you actually start operating.”

Not letting her start up lessons deter her progress, she identifies adding a virtual component to the business as her five year plan. By utilizing the company’s’ website her goal is for customers to be able to try on wigs and determine their size and style without stepping foot into the store. She would like to own a boutique in Squirrel Hill and put jobs into the community by employing five people. She views having the Pop-up Shop Loft in its own building enabling it to host activities at a much higher capacity.

To achieve her five year plan, Johnson-Rainey says she will continue selling the Luxhair, Revlon, Noriko, Raquel Welch, Amore, Rene’ of Paris, Gabor and Hair World brands, two of which include the Sherri Shepherd and Wendy Williams lines. She also sells Rene’ of Paris wigs for children.

Featured skin care lines sold at A Hair Boutique are Mary Kay and the clinically-proven LindiSkin designed for people undergoing cancer treatments and for compromised skin.

Grateful for the successes in her life, Johnson-Rainey a Homewood native and Westinghouse High School graduate, says she has experienced a lot in her 33 years of life. “I grew up in the height of the gang era and saw my best friend die in front of me,” she said. At the age of 18 she survived a major car accident where her mother was killed and she was on life support and not expected to live. She was severely burned and she pointed out that she lost her hair on the right side. As a result of those experiences she recalls that in her 20’s she was very angry. “Through those trials and tribulations I made it and I am blessed for that,” she said.

Using A Hair Boutique to uplift and motivate others, Johnson-Rainey says her philosophy is that if you have an idea you have to take it further than that. “If you believe it, you have to do it and have it.” Quoting the late Arthur Ashe, she says, “Start where you are. Use what you have and do what you can.”

A Hair Boutique Shadyside is open Monday through Saturday. Appointments are recommended but walk-ins are encouraged.

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