Owner goes from ICU to grand opening of Hair Thairpy salon
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
A few weeks after closing a deal to open a hair salon on Silver Slipper Lane, Donnell Davis found himself in an intensive care unit at the hospital.
He, family members and supporters worried. Davis prayed. He got better and in early March he opened the door as owner of Hair Thairpy. A grand opening and ribbon cutting took place last Tuesday.
“It’s a blessing to see me doing this,” Davis, a devout Christian said between setting up for the grand event.
People who know Davis, weren’t surprised by his resilience after he fell ill. Still, the illness shook many of them, including his wife Chereka.
“I was in disbelief that it was happening at a time that we were trying to get the business off the ground,” she said. “Faith had to kick in.”
That Davis was having a grand opening was a little surprising to Antonio Jefferson, president of the Big Bend Chamber of Commerce, which coordinated the ribbon cutting.
“I think it’s a remarkable thing,” said Jefferson. “I think that if you can survive illness and still open a business that tells me that in good times, you’ll be great.”
Jefferson praised Davis’ gumption to open up a personal service business at a time when social distance is a priority. He said he was especially impressed because Black-owned businesses have been struggling to survive during the pandemic.
But the clientele he is targeting demands the service that Hair Thairpy provides, Jefferson said.
“Women still want to look beautiful every day; Black women for sure want to be perfect every moment they’re outside of the house,” he said. “Donnell’s business satisfies that need.”
Indeed. It’s the main reason that Davis said he decided to become a salon owner for a second time in the 21 years that he’s been a cosmetologist. This time he insisted that he’ll take a therapeutic approach to what he does, thus the name Hair Thairpy.
“I like the way it makes women feel; feeling good about themselves,” said Davis. “I want to make sure they get superior service.
“Women go to the beauty salon to be taken away from the everyday-life. They want that feeling where they’re massaged and they get a good word and they’re understood. I like the therapy that it gives the women.”
Davis’ popularity soared through the years he’s worked as a cosmetologist. He gained celebrity status when he started appearing as a singer on Tallahassee Nights Live shows.
On the night of the grand opening, he celebrated his 45th birthday by performing a virtual concert from inside the salon.
A few of the city’s movers and shakers showed up to help him celebrate the opening earlier. In addition to city commissioners Dianne Williams-Cox and Curtis Richardson, County Commission Rick Minor was there along with Darryl Jones, deputy director of the Office of Economic Vitality.
“It’s amazing to see so many businesses like this opening in this pandemic when so many are going out of business,” Richardson said. “We are proud of the owners. This will add to our economy, it will create jobs for our people and the services that our citizens need and look for.”
Davis is one of three brothers to own a business. The other two are in the security and trucking industries. Their wiliness to do for self comes from seeing their mother Kathy Dixon on the same job for three decades, said Antonio Hall.
“We learned from her,” Hall said.
Davis said he develop an entrepreneurial spirit at age 14. Selling candies and baked goods to his schoolmates was his grind, he said, adding, “I was a walking store.”
Cosmetology became his passion when he was attending a career fair at Lively and ran into popular hair stylist Curtis Miller. It turned out that what Miller told him and what he’d hear from his mother was enough to keep him motivated.
“My mom always pushed us about not accepting being normal and not getting comfortable,” Davis said. “So I’ve always been a chaser.”