SALISBURY — For sisters Talaya and Tierra McManus, compromise comes naturally.
It only made sense, then, that the siblings decided to meet in between their respective homes in Winston-Salem and Charlotte to open a beauty supply store in Salisbury.
Located at 1953 Jake Alexander Blvd W, unit B, the House of J. Lorraine specializes in hair products for color and care, but sells everything from decorative headbands to hoop earrings. The store held its grand opening in August with an event hosted by Livingstone College’s WLJZ 107.1 radio station.
The name of the shop is an homage to Talaya and Tierra’s family members. The “J” comes from Jacqueline, the first name of their grandmother, and “Lorraine” is the last name of one of their great-grandmothers.
Talaya and Tierra said they decided to open House of J. Lorraine because they want to provide customers with an experience not found in other beauty supply stores.
“We care about other people’s hair,” Tierra said. “We try a lot of hair products, a lot of hair styles and healthy hair in general is important to us. In our experience, going to beauty supply stores, sometimes the owners or employees don’t have that first hand knowledge with some of the products. We wanted to give our customers a different experience.”
On top of its convenient proximity, the sisters chose Salisbury for the store because they believe the market wasn’t fully tapped.
“There are other beauty supply stores in the area, but what sets us apart from other beauty supply stores is the vibe that you feel when you come into the store,” Talaya said. “It’s fresh and open. We wanted to create an atmosphere that was young, fresh and that the customer service experience was superb.”
It helped that Tierra is familiar with Salisbury after living in the city while commuting to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
“I told (Talaya) that it would be a good area, not only because it’s halfway but because I do like the city,” Tierra said.
When they aren’t behind the counter at House of J. Lorraine, Talaya and Tierra both work in education.
Talaya is the owner and operator of Smarties LLC in Winston-Salem, a youth center that provides after school and summertime programming and tutoring. She started the program in 2015 at her home, but quickly added more customers and now has a physical location. Smarties has experienced a boom in business since the onset of the pandemic, with parents needing childcare more than ever. Tierra, meanwhile, is a school counselor with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
Talaya drives from Winston-Salem to open and run House of J. Lorraine in the morning and Tierra drives up from Charlotte to take the baton from her in the afternoons. The sisters don’t mind the commute. Talaya said she uses it as “joyful” time to decompress and clear her mind.
While owning and operating the shop has put extra strain on their already busy schedules, the sisters have both enjoyed the experience so far.
“When you’re doing something that is a labor of love, it doesn’t feel like ‘Oh my gosh, I have to go do this again,’” Talaya said.
It also gives them an opportunity to interact more often than they otherwise would, which they said is an added perk.
The beauty supply store is not Talaya and Tierra’s first joint entrepreneurial venture. The sisters own and operate Luxxe, an online custom apparel and accessory store. They sell Luxxe merchandise primarily through Etsy and Facebook marketplace, but now Luxxe’s items, including their top-selling shades, can now be found in House of J. Lorraine.
Having worked together before, the sisters have an established rapport that has helped while starting their new brick and mortar business.
“Our communication, which is extremely important professionally and personally as well, is pretty good,” Tierra said. “We both communicate when it comes to stock, inventory, things that are needed or things we don’t have, or throwing a sale on something real quick so we can bring new stuff in. That’s been really good between the two of us.”
The sisters said they are constantly adjusting their inventory after trying products themselves or hearing reviews from customers.
“The hair and beauty industry is always evolving and changing,” Tierra said. “Although we carry all of these things, we haven’t used 100% of the items in this store. I haven’t used the men’s beard cream, but we know men who have used it so we take feedback from customers who have tried things.”
The House of J. Lorraine offers discounts to local barbers, hair stylist and hair braiders who might be in need of additional product. The shop is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. More information about House of J. Lorraine can be found online at www.houseofjlorraine.com.