Valonne Smith

Natural Do founder and CEO Valonne Smith is giving back in a big way with new apprenticeship program

Natural Do, a black and woman owned natural hair care salon, is giving back in a big way.

Before Women’s History Month ends, we want to spotlight another incredible women founder who is paying it forward and creating opportunities for other women. 

Valonne Smith is the owner and founder of Natural Do, a membership salon and retail store offering natural hair care products specifically formulated for people with kinky, curly, wavy hair. 

As a woman of color with natural hair, Valonne thought, wouldn’t it be great to go to a salon and get the products and services I need? After searching for salons that catered to natural hair, she soon found that there was not much out there for this niche and decided to start her own salon with this vision in mind. 

Valonne Smith, founder and CEO of Natural Do. (Photo courtesy of Valonne Smith)

Leaning on her strength to put herself out there and engage with all kinds of people, Valonne began taking steps to build her dream business. Her vision finally came to fruition in 2016 when the first Natural Do location opened in Stockton, California. 

However, while building her business, Valonne encountered some struggles, as many entrepreneurs do. Unlike many businesses, though, the main struggle she faced over and over again was rooted in a lack of understanding from vendors and banks who did not understand her business’ niche and what they do. 

“They think we are just a regular hair salon, but because we are niche and cater to a specific client they don’t understand it,” said Valonne. “They don’t see how a natural hair salon is actually very different from the traditional salon.” 

It’s this specific client niche that makes Natural Do so unique and distinguishes them from other salons. 

Natural Do’s core mission is to educate “Curlfriends” on how to properly care for their hair and get the positive results they want, and embrace their natural hair texture using natural and organic-based products designed to nourish, strengthen, and maintain healthy hair growth.

 “My favorite part of my business that I love to see is when the stylist turns the client around in the chair and they see their hair. They look so happy and surprised that it’s their own natural hair that looks beautiful. There was no need to add chemicals or extensions. Just their beautiful natural curls.” 

Valonne is passionate about spreading that love for natural hair and continuing to educate individuals on how to care for their hair and embrace their natural look. 

Continuing her mission, Valonne is now expanding her reach with two new locations in the works in San Jose and Sacramento, along with introducing an exciting new opportunity for aspiring cosmetologists. 

With education at the center of Natural Do’s mission, the salon is now launching the Natural Do Apprenticeship Apprentice Academy, a training program approved by the Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) and the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology that allows people who have a talent in doing hair but may not have the resources to pay for cosmetology school, to be able to work in the salon and get on-the-job training all while getting paid. Under the guidance and supervision of a trainer, apprentices will hone their skills and after two years, they can then apply for the state board to get their cosmetology/barber license.

This incredible opportunity will help train more cosmetologists and barbers in the art of natural hair care and continue the salon’s mission while giving back. 

“Do what you love and have a strong interest in,” Valonne encourages aspiring entrepreneurs. (Photo courtesy of Valonne Smith)

Valonne encourages women entrepreneurs and professionals to focus on their passions. Her own business was founded on her passion for hair care and a desire to educate. Through her business she has also been able to help others follow their passions by providing education and apprenticeship opportunities. 

“Do what you love and have a strong interest in,” she said. “The business or your career will have ups and downs. There would be good days and amazing days,” she continued. “And the only thing that will keep you grounded is the love and passion you have for your business or career.” 

Valonne has faced her share of challenges throughout her journey, but ultimately it has all been worth it. She hopes to continue to reach more “Curlfriends” as Natural Do expands its reach with new locations and opportunities this year, and continue to educate and spread the love for natural hair. 

You might be interested: Meet the Frías sisters founders of Afro-Latina beauty brand LUNA MAGIC 

Author

  • Victoria Arena is a writer and student, passionate about writing, literature, and women's studies. She is bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish. In 2017, she received her Associates in Fine Arts for Creative Writing from Brookdale Community College. Now, she is working toward her Bachelor's in English Literature at Montclair State University. Along with literature, Victoria is interested in Gender and Sexuality Studies, which she is pursuing as a minor, focusing closely on women's issues, gender inequality, and LGBT issues. These studies provide her with a feminist lens, which influences her work from both fiction to academic writings.

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