Sisters promote natural hair

Valencia and Denise Jones, owners of Mandisa Ngozi Art and Braiding Gallery, are celebrating their 20th anniversary as business women.

Valencia Jones opened the salon in 1990 at Florida A&M  while she was a student, and used her skills to help pay her way through college. Denise Jones graduated with a degree in Psychology in 1996 but decided to continue investing in her growing business.

The sisters moved through five different locations before finally settling into what Denise said will be their final place.

Mandisa Ngozi, which means “sweet blessings,” is now located in historic downtown Tallahassee in The Bloxham  House. The home once belonged to former Tallahassee Gov. William D. Bloxham.

“I think when you find a place like this, where there is so much history, you just know,” Denise said.

“This is where we’ll stay.” Bloxham’s house is four stories high and gives the sisters enough space to take their business to another level, Valencia said.

In the front room there is a gallery the sisters have designed as a tribute to African history. The walls and tables are adorned with pictures, books and wooden carvings representing African hair traditions, from extensions to locks to the use of clay in some cultures.

The next room was transformed into a small store where the sisters sell homemade jewelry, hair accessories and hair products.

Valencia and Denise also provide hair consultations for prospective clients. Women transitioning from relaxed to natural hair can also come to learn about the process.

Marcia Owens, assistant professor in the Environmental Science Institute, has been a loyal client of the Jones sisters since she moved to Tallahassee six years ago.

“People can look at my hair and say: You go to Mandisa Ngozi,” Owens said.

“If you can look at my hair and tell me where I go and you’re complementing me on it, I’m getting what I paid for.”

With 20 years of success in the making, the sisters say they know that good things do not happen overnight.

They have been featured in Sophisticate’s Black Hair magazine, including this month’s issue and 11 other hair magazines.

“I’ll cut my locks if they leave,” she said with a laugh. “I haven’t found anyone else near them in terms of how they do what they do,” Owens said with a chuckle.