Shiree McClendon, the self-proclaimed “Oprah of Hair”, is an award-winning celebrity stylist and owner of Hair Icon Beauty Bar. McClendon started her career in 2004 and soon built a following of celebrity clients, including Erica Dixon of ‘Love and Hip Hop Atlanta’, Coko of SWV and gospel singers Y’Anna Crawley and Tamiya Carter who appreciate her attention to detail.
Her expertise in lace closures, infusions, microlinks and more prompted her to enter and win a host of hair competitions.
McClendon has been published in international magazines such as Salon Digest and Hair in Motion and has led the styling teams on various photo shoots. In 2014 she was nominated as the SteveHarvey Neighborhood Awards’ best hairstylist; worked an editorial photo shoot for Kontrol Magazine; and, was selected as a key stylist for the BET Hip Hop Awards celebrity gifting suite.
A native of Memphis, Tenn., McClendon relocated to Virginia after graduating from high school and soon obtained her cosmetology license. Within 5 years of working as a booth rental stylist, she became a salon owner. When McClendon opened the doors to her very own business, The Hair Icon Beauty Bar, she had only two hair stylist stations.
Seeing a need to be different from her fellow hair stylists, McClendon felt that she could reach more people in a broader market. Within a year, the wife and mother of three girls at the time moved her establishment to a 1,500 sq. ft. location in Norfolk, Va. where she has been able to employ seven stylists and a receptionist.
McClendon was recently named one of four Top Hair Salons in the U.S. in the Steve Harvey Neighborhood Awards.
As a licensed instructor, McClendon specializes in all types of hair extensions and hairpieces which has enabled her to stand out among her competitors. In 2014, she launched a hair-line designed to enhance the beauty of women of various backgrounds and ethnicities. She also is developing the Hair Icon Flat Iron, which is in the production stages and will be available in 2015 to the mass market.
Q: What empowers you?
McClendon gives direct credit for self-empowerment to her past. She says that she refused to pass down generational curses to her rising generation (kids) and decided that her past would be her best motivator in pursuing her goals.
Aside from the accolades, don’t miss the message in this story. McClendon first decided that she wanted more for herself, girls and family lineage. She opted to start with nothing. She describes her humble beginning as one in which she had nothing; no salon, no money, no clients and no platform. Never mind the fact that she was conquering her dreams as a homeless, yes, homeless woman.
Her decision to live her dreams and cultivate her passion in the hair industry to achieve different results for herself and family is a true testament of McClendon’s determination.
Here are a few tips McClendon shares:
1. Don’t live off the lifestyle of the past. Change and brand the future you want for yourself and those coming behind you.
2. Be okay with making changes. If something isn’t working, change it.
3. Don’t be afraid to change from your existing situation to better situations for you and your lineage to come.
Ask yourself, what is holding you back from pursuing all that our Creator has put you here to do? McClendon looked within, when her existing circumstances, at the time, said ‘no you can’t’ and decided for herself, ‘yes I will.’
We salute you! Keep it up until in fact, in your words, “when you enter a room we’ll recognize you as the Oprah of Hair and no introduction will be needed.”
Feel welcome to share your thoughts and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More about Felicia Smith
Felicia Smith is an author and Empower Magazine columnist.