Community Business of the Week
Carolina PanoramaBy Nate Abraham Jr.
BUSINESS OF THE WEEK
As the baby of her family, Kimberly Diamond is used to getting advice from her parents. Both parents believed in working hard, and both believed in having a trade to fall back on case of a decline in their main source of income.
“My mom survived off of a trade,” said Diamond. “My father worked for the City of Columbia, but he also had a trade, plumbing, on the side. They taught having a trade as well as a college degree. I have hard working parents.”
Diamond’s mother is a cosmetologist who owns her own shop, and taught Diamond the business from an early age.
“My mother is a cosmetologist,” said Diamond. “She was actually my instructor at Heyward Career Center. I grew up in the business, and I have always had a love for hair.”
In 1993, Diamond graduated from Dreher High School and Heyward Career Center with cosmetology license. Even though she had her cosmetology license, she also wanted a college degree. But even when she was in college, she still worked part-time as a cosmetologist.
“I was the baby of the family,” recalled Diamond, “and I was one of those kids who was going to do the opposite of what my parents wanted me to do. I drifted for a while, attended several colleges, but eventually I realized that I had to stick with something.”
Diamond eventually earned a degree in Mass Communications. She embarked on her professional career, but at the urging of her father, she kept her cosmetology license up to date.
“I was doing everything else besides hair,” Diamond recalled. “I was doing radio, leasing consultant, property management – I did a lot of things that led me back to hair. Hair was always my first love.”
It took a downturn in the economy to make Diamond realize how much she missed the hair care industry.
“The recession caused me to fall back into hair full-time,” said Diamond. “I got laid off in 2007 from a property management job. Because I listened to my father, who always said that you should always have a trade to fall back on, I was able to go and build my hair clientele. I always knew I would come back to hair, I just didn’t know it would be this soon. I love it.”
Diamond’s mother always allowed her to work in her salon part-time. But Diamond knew that she wanted to make her own mark in the industry. She worked at for various other salons to expand her knowledge. Eventually, she became attracted to the benefits of natural hair.
“I started researching natural hair,” Diamond said. “I wanted to specialize in healthy hair, and I wanted people to know that there are alternatives to having perm hair.”
So on July 1, 2010, Diamond opened Kimestry at 1411 Augusta Road in West Columbia. The salon focuses on “natural” hair, but she also does relaxed hair. She says that “Kimestry is only against perms if the perms are against you” – that is, if the relaxing process is starting to damage your hair and scalp.
“I feel that a lot of Black women are stuck behind this ‘European’ look,” Diamond continued. “I feel that they are beautiful without long hair down their back and all that makeup. It’s okay to enhance your beauty, but all that extra stuff is not really necessary.”
Diamond specializes in helping women make the transition to natural hair.
“It’s a process you have to go through,” said Diamond. “If you are used to your hair being long and straight, you will notice that after you stop taking that relaxer, it will get shorter and shorter. That’s because the natural hair is making the perm hair shrink up. Some women take it well, but some clients cry. I just shut the door and give them tissue. They have to go through the transition, but the end result is worth it.”
Diamond says that a major part of her mission is to make her clients feel good about themselves and look their best. She also helps clients choose their makeup and accessories to enhance their looks as they transition to natural hair. She works hard to make sure that her clients feel good about themselves.
“When I have them in the chair, I try to instill positive things,” said Diamond. “If my clients come through the door with a negative vibe, they know we are not having that here. I feed them positive energy so you can’t bring that negative energy in here. My motto is ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.’ When people see Kimestry, I want them to think positive.”
Diamond says that Kimestry is an “Invitation Only” salon.
“That doesn’t mean that you are not invited, because you are,” Diamond says with a laugh. “There was a stigma attached to African-American salons that you go into a salon and wait five or six hours before your stylist will even see you. Invitation-only means that you can’t walk in the door and get your hair done ahead of someone else who already has an appointment. If I don’t have anyone else here already scheduled, that is fine. But I have clients coming here on a schedule. It’s not fair to make those people wait behind someone without an appointment.”
Diamond is currently looking to expand her business. She has a booth to rent to a licensed cosmetologist who is seeking grow in the hair care industry.
“The booth rental is very reasonable,” said Diamond. “It should be more, but I know that we are in a recession.”
In addition to the salon, Diamond sells Dudu Osun, an exclusive line of hair and skin care products that she imports from Africa. In the future, she plans to also do public speaking, image consulting and lifestyle coaching.
“In my family, there is no way you can’t do something,” said Diamond. “If someone tells you no, that you can’t do something, you just find another way. That’s just the way I was raised – never take no for an answer. There is always someone out there who can give you a chance. If not, find a way to make your own chance.”
Kimestry is located at 1411 Augusta Road in West Columbia. Kimberly can be reached by calling (803) 269-6858 or online at www.kimestryhairdesign.com.
Please come support KIMestry at The Black Expo on Saturday May 17, 2014 at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, SC. Kimberly Diamond of KIMestry will be doing a seminar entitled "Natural Hair: A Healthier You, Mind Body and Soul." To register for the workshop click here . See you there!