Women entrepreneurs choose Cleveland Heights

Dana Chandler– Smoke Dee’s Kitchen

Photo by Belle Espinal.

Last month, the Heights Observer featured owners of Black-owned businesses that new FutureHeights Business Outreach Manager Belle Espinal met during her first month on the job. Now, for Women’s History Month, Espinal now has put together a recap, and a series of photos, of some of the women who own Cleveland Heights businesses, whom she has met since beginning her job in January.

Josefita Fehn is an independent representative of Beautycounter, offering cosmetic products made using fair-trade business practices, such as prohibiting the use of child labor and toxic chemicals, and offering fair wages to its employees. Fehn characterizes Black and Latina women as using makeup in high quantities, and wants them to know that Beautycounter is an option. She is proud that the company offers 25 scholarships for minorities to start their own Beautycounter business. “All you need is a passion and a desire to work to get started,” said Fehn. In April, she hopes to participate in an initiative to increase federal regulations on beauty products. Contact Fehn at achyfehn@gmail.com.

Chef Dana Chandler is the owner of Smoke Dee’s Kitchen, 1433 Warrensville Center Road. “I offer good soul food at a reasonable price with excellent customer service. Cooking is my passion, that’s why I have this business,” said Chandler. “I am a small, Black woman-owned business here in the Heights. I am a one-woman show.”

LaDosha Wright has owned Reverence Design Team salon, at 2062 S. Taylor Road, since 2000. Wright started her career as an outreach manager, visiting homes and teaching classes on parenting and anger management, and was surprised to discover that many of the issues her clients faced were because they did not like themselves, especially their hair. She created a course, How to Have a Good Hair Day, that focused on the same client issues, but related them to the cultural importance of having a good hair day. That led her to start her own hair-styling business. She is continuing her activism, and hoping to bring the discipline of Afro-hair to a local college.

Asma Mujib, owner of Momma’s Bowl, a soul food restaurant at 3077 Mayfield Road, grew up cooking with her mother. “To this day, my momma is the only other person who can fry my chicken,” she said. Soul food cooking is her passion. Even after working full time at a childcare center, she would come home to cook and bake. Last year, Mujib felt it was finally time to open her own restaurant, where many of the recipes she prepares are those passed down from her mother. “Here, you will get a fresh, home-cooked meal that you do not have to cook, and it’s not too expensive,” said Mujib. “People want home-cooked meals, and nothing here is from the can.” In addition to cooking all of the restaurant’s dishes herself, “to make sure that everything is perfectly cooked for the public,” Mujib, the mother of five, is working on her Ph.D dissertation, and operates a childcare center in a neighboring city.

April Bimbo (pictured) and Donell Manning are the owners of Lavish Decors, at 1645 Lee Road. Their home décor shop features such items as mirrors, throw pillows, lamps, tables and comfortable house shoes. Bimbo wants to share her passion for interior decorating and house staging, and strives to offer items that are reasonably priced and affordable. “This is a business that welcomes everyone,” she said. “We celebrate being a woman-owned business.” Manning agreed, adding, “We offer an affordable lifestyle, and it’s an honest lifestyle. We are trying to achieve the American dream as minorities.”

Licensed cosmetologist Shawnnell Thomas, and her daughters Shaniya and Heaven, own and operate two full-service beauty salons in Cleveland Heights: Polish Me Pretty, at 2550 Noble Road, and Polish Me Pretty 2.0, at 3964 Mayfield Road. Serial entrepreneurs, over the years the Thomases have owned beauty shops, ice cream parlors and a dollar store in Cleveland Heights. When Shawnnell opened Polish Me Pretty in 2011, her aunt, Germaine Monroe, a beautician from Georgia, came to help run the business. “I am one of the few black-owned nail salons owned and operated in Cleveland,” she said. Heaven and Shaniya both graduated from cosmetology school. “It’s exciting and hard to run a successful business as a young entrepreneur,” said Shaniya, 19. “We are still building and learning, and always open to learning more,” added Heaven. “We are loyal to our clients and loyal to the city,” said Shawnnell, who has been a licensed cosmetologist for 23 years. “We want people to leave our doors feeling and looking good. We are really genuine and passionate about our craft. We love what we do, and are good at it. We are a Black woman-, family-run business.” Heaven also runs Hair Bullies LLC, a business that offers three-day hair-braiding training, and Shaniya makes and markets her own organic, homemade line of cosmetics, the PYT collection. Shawnnell also co-owns Talk of the Town, a venue for social gatherings.

Belle Espinal

Belle Espinal is the business outreach manager for FutureHeights, with a focus on women- and minority-owned businesses. Contact her at bespinal@futureheights.org, or 216-320-1423.

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Volume 15, Issue 3, Posted 11:10 AM, 03.01.2022