By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
SINCE the recent grand opening of the “Hair Granted Beauty Supply Store” in Toronto, Canada, Bahamian owner Zhorrah Grant said the response she is receiving from Bahamians is amazing.
“I have been getting support from Bahamians at home in The Bahamas virtually, but more so Bahamians living here in Canada. I have had Bahamians who drove 2 to 3 hours just to come and visit my store on multiple occasions. I can honestly say I am profoundly grateful for it all,” said Ms Grant.
At the store, Zhorrah and her team offer a variety of hair products such as virgin human hair extensions, virgin hair and synthetic wigs, braiding hair, crochet hair, ponytails, accessories, products for natural or relaxed hair, cosmetics and so much more. The store is at 200 Queen’s Plate Drive in Etobicoke, just minutes away from the downtown core of the city of Toronto.
“I have Bahamian-owned brands in my store. I have the Bahamian brand Braidglam by Jonique Holness who carries a line of edge controls and wax sticks for your natural, relaxed or bundles. I also carry Crochet Bundles by Eleuthera native Bekuh Johnson. She has a factory in Nassau where she hand makes her own styles of crochet bundles such as Shanti Twist, Lutra Locs and the infamous Bahama Twists which is the crochet style sold in my store," said Zhorrah.
"While creating these different styles of crochet, Bekuh also has created her own line of edge control which is also sold in my store. Moreover, coming soon well-known Bahamian makeup artist Lisa Wallace’s cosmetic line ICON cosmetics will be sold at Hair Granted as well. I am just genuinely happy I can be a platform for Bahamian brands to be sold internationally."
Living in Canada for the past 16 years, Zhorrah always wanted to open a beauty supply store, but her other dreams took precedence in her life. Upon graduating from the St Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology - she came back home to The Bahamas for ten months seeking employment from different departments in the government.
“To no avail was I successful in finding a job as I was turned away and many doors closed, therefore, I decided to go into teaching at a private independent boarding school in New Brunswick. After teaching there for a school year, I decided to accept a teaching job offer here in Toronto. During my time teaching, I worked part time at a very well-known Asian owned beauty supply store. I worked and gained a lot of background knowledge in the beauty industry what is predominately Asian-owned here in Canada.
"I sat down three years ago and planned my entire company. From hair to products. I knew what I wanted my brand to stand for especially for a black woman during these times. I asked myself 'What will make Hair Granted Beauty Supply different from other beauty supply stores?' I lead with that question, and my dream became reality with a lot of firsts in the hair industry in Canada. Having a hair and wig wall with just raw virgin hair displayed. Creating a colour-coded customer shopping experience via customers choosing a specific colour shopping basket in respect to their hair and product knowledge which then helps increase our customer service. Most importantly having the largest black-owned beauty supply store in the Greater Toronto Area with over 4,000sq ft of hair, cosmetics, products and more."
What she enjoys most about the beauty industry is the interaction with customers. Zhorrah loves hearing about their beauty experience stories. Most importantly, she enjoys observing them as they enjoy the ambience of the store and being “wowed” about the size and the variety of the selections offered. She said what is also gratifying, is having customers from the black community congratulate her and some even near tears to see what a black person can accomplish especially during these times.
“I loved how this industry never gets old or fall behind with techniques. There is always a new technique or an easier way for women and men alike to make their lives easier regarding hair and or products. The popular trends during this time of the year varies as we are now into the Fall season, which means we are looking colder weather. Colder weather calls for shorter looks due to wearing jackets. Therefore, some customers prefer crochet hairstyles, braids, faux locs and short wigs,” said Zhorrah.
The feeling of this dream coming to fruition during a global pandemic is truly unimaginable for Zhorrah. The entrepreneur have been asked numerous times if she was certain of going through with the venture this year. She was even asked to wait until next year after the pandemic shows some slowing down.
“I was second guessed by many but once I opened my doors on August 29 and saw the response from Canadians, the line was literally wrapped around the building, customers wanting to come and shop and see the newest black owned beauty supply store on the market. All I can do is thank my Almighty God for all He has done. He instilled the vision in me, and I made it come to fruition all by His Grace and proved those who doubted me. I always look to the story of Madam CJ Walker, who was known for having her business soar through the Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1920 and look at me, 100 years later. All by His Grace," said Zhorrah.
"I have three important people in my life who I would say are my biggest influences. My parents even though they both deceased. The time they shared with my brother and I, I have learned and gained so much from them. My father, Bahamas Sporting Hall of Fame Inductee the Late Tom 'Da Bird' Grant and my mother, The Bahamas’ first trained and registered Dialysis Nurse, The late Sr Nursing Officer Hannah Rahming-Grant. Last but certainly not least, Mrs Laura Williams, my aunt, who I also graciously call my mother as she raised me from the tender age of six months. These three individuals not only taught me what hard work and true entrepreneurship was but what perseverance truly is,” said Zhorrah.
She is looking forward to having a successfully holiday season and towards next year. Most importantly, she is hoping the Canadian borders can re-open and Bahamians living at home can visit Toronto to experience what the Hair Granted Beauty Supply has to offer.