Shelia Hensley grew up in East Knoxville, one of six children. Having always enjoyed doing hair on friends and family, this was a natural fit for her career, which has spanned 37 years. While her service won’t be changing, the name on the lease has. She is now the proud owner of her salon in the Old City. Shelia’s Creative Styles now calls 202 W. Magnolia Ave. home.
For years, Shelia rented booths from other people but couldn’t provide the environment and service she longed for. Now, as her own boss, she can provide her clients with the space she describes as comfortable and safe. Some elements that had been missing from her business before now were a place to hold meetings and training to stay informed on the latest trends in African American hairstyles and access to soft water that doesn’t dry out the hair. She also has a clean, spacious, and orderly salon to offer the products she uses on her clients so they don’t have to shop elsewhere.
Shelia became a licensed hairdresser in 1986 after graduating from Alma’s Beauty College, which was on Magnolia. She has served the East Knoxville community since that time. When I asked her if her clients were happy with the new space, she smiled and said, “Oh yes!” There is free parking across the street, a coffee shop on one side of her, and a barbershop on the other. She takes great pride in the beautiful atmosphere she has created.
Shelia specializes in natural African-American haircare, color, braiding, and sew-in extensions. She also provides a wash-and-go service, silk press and can work with children. She has 2-3 more women renting space from her and setting up their own clientele list. She hopes to provide lash services and nail services soon as well.
The first black salon owner to open her doors in the Old City, Shelia is proud to be bringing more black-owned businesses to the area. She worked with her cousin, Candace Moore Washington, the owner of and a project manager with Cancave Management, to negotiate the lease terms, find the best contractors, and pick out the equipment she needed for the shop. She sat in each chair chosen to ensure her client’s comfort and her high standards.
Shelia described bringing her shop to the Old City as a full circle moment when Angela Dennis interviewed her with Knox News. The location of her new salon is just around the block from the area where a black-owned business district and many neighborhoods were victim to urban removal several decades ago, from 1959 to 1974. It consisted of the Willow Street Project, the Mountain View Project, and the Morningside Project. Shelia says she believes the Lord led her to this location as she drove around looking one afternoon.
I was present for a second ribbon cutting for the salon, and the joy on the faces of Shelia’s friends and family who came out to support her was contagious. She has over 1000 clients and is ready for even more.
You can find Shelia on Facebook HERE and can book via her website/app HERE. She is open Tuesday through Friday, 10-6, and Saturdays, 10-2. You can reach her by phone at (865) 253-7616.