SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (AP) – Shaynae Clark likes to think of herself as a beauty innovator.
About a decade ago when she was a student at Romulus High School, she focused her senior project on how certain pesticides used in food production were causing cancer.
Her goal was to create a product that would assist women who had cancer, so she started making and donating wigs to the Look Good, Feel Better program of the American Cancer Society.
In college, that passion resulted in a student group Clark started that helped students and others with hair loss. That effort, in turn, became a nonprofit featuring a blog.
More recently, she has opened The Luxury Beauty Experience Salon, Spa & Beauty Store in Southfield, a business in which she sells wig hats, runs a hair salon and continues to create hair products. The author and mother also runs a philanthropic business called PJ’s Lemonade Stand. It is named for her son, PJ Clark.
Her reason for giving back in multiple ways? Simply because it makes her “happy and joyful.”
“I need that energy to run a business and create, along with fulfilling my purpose of inspiring others,” Clark told the Detroit Free Press. “It keeps me going.”
Turning innovations into a business
Clark’s salon is at 23100 Providence Drive, Suite 122. She provides space there for other small business owners, too. Those owners include Lisha Beeman, a makeup artist, and Porscha Longworth, who does eyelash extensions. Clark sells her Luxury Beauty Experience products at the location.
The idea for her latest innovation, the Grab ‘N GO Hair Cap, came to her while she had time off during the pandemic. The hats come with the weave attached.
The product is for those who are on-the-go or who may be experiencing hair loss. The hats come in different colors and there also is a version for kids. Clark sells the hats starting at $115.
“I’ve been seeing women wear hats, wear visors, wear everything,” said Clark. “But I haven’t seen them wear the convenience of the hat with the hair on it.” Of women and hair loss, she said she has learned that not all alopecia or cancer patients “want their hair all the time.”
“Some days, they’ll be like ‘I don’t want no hair, I’m good.’ ”
The Grab ‘N GO cap has transformed Clark’s business and has become a major part of her brand as a hairstylist in the salon where she also offers services like quick weaves, sew-ins and micro-links for her clients.
Clark offers consultations with her clients who experience hair loss to see whether or not they should wear a wig or a hair hat.
She released her winter collection in 2020 that included the Grab ‘N GO cap. She plans to release a summer version this year.
Specialized services developed over time
Clark has been creating hair growth products since in 2012, when she developed a product for a boy who had alopecia. That product, officially launched last year, is now called The Luxury Growth Grease. At $20, it has peppermint and tea tree oil and other ingredients meant to promote hair growth.
For example, in a testimonial video, one client used the product on her daughter’s hair to promote growth after a fungus had caused hair loss.
Clark’s handmade products also include black seed oil and other natural oils.
From campus to nonprofit to cosmetology school
Clark started a student organization while attending Western Michigan University in 2010 that focused on helping people with hair loss. The organization hosted meetings to encourage women and provide gifts to them. It later turned into a nonprofit called The Butterfly Effect, which Clark named after the movie of the same name.
“We were on campus doing bake sales, saving up money and finding women who needed the services,” said Clark. “I said we’re not just going to help women with cancer, we’re going to help alopecia (patients) that lose their hair, and lupus. So I started finding girls on campus that you wouldn’t even know – you would just think they wear a wig or weave.”
With the nonprofit, Clark had sponsors who donated wigs and gift cards to people experiencing hair loss. The organization also ran a blog that talked about personal experiences, encouraged empowerment and provided information about losing hair.
Clark went to cosmetology school and graduated last April. She opened the Luxury Beauty Experience in Southfield in November.
“I went to cosmetology school … to really take what I do to the next level,” Clark said. “I want to be a beauty innovator, a beauty educator and a beauty business consultant. In the beauty industry, people either don’t take it serious or they do take it serious and they go to school and they take it to the next level. So I graduated from school, went through all of that and now I’m here.”
Son’s condition inspires more innovation
In the midst of her many hair business ventures, Clark and her son spend a lot of time doing philanthropic work in the community.
When Clark’s son was born, he was diagnosed with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder, which is a form of hearing loss. She wanted to become an advocate for other children who have similar experiences, so she wrote a children’s book called “We are Friends and We are Different” that shows representation for other kids that have different abilities.
Some of the other characters in the book have Down syndrome, need glasses or braces, have vitiligo, alopecia and more.
“Yes, those words are big and it’s a big step, but they’re going to have questions,” Clark said. “The thing with my book was it doesn’t have an age on it. It doesn’t matter what age – they’re going to ask questions. A 5-year-old is not going to know and a 10-year-old is not going to know either if nobody is talking to them about these things. So my book was to encourage that conversation.”
Through PJ’s Lemonade Stand, the mother and son often give away gently used pairs of gym shoes and sell lemonade in an effort to improve PJ’s social and speaking skills.
Giving back to the community while running businesses came naturally to Clark, and she eventually realized that it is her motivation to keep pushing.
“I realized it was important to me when I would have roadblocks where sometimes, I shut down as an entrepreneur,” Clark said. “I have a lot going on and I do a lot of things, so sometimes I do hit those moments where I’m not motivated or I need to find a refresher. Every single time I need a boost or refresher, I start giving and that’s when I feel motivated again.”
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