Meldora knows best
Entrepreneur models more than hair and clothes
I’ve always loved doing hair,” Meldora Skaggs said. “I did the Barbies. I did the baby dolls, did my friends. It was just a natural gift for me, a natural desire.”
Skaggs formerly owned Meldora Hair Salon and currently owns Bleu Hanger clothing boutique, both located on E. College Avenue in Decatur.
Her start as a hair stylist was rocky. She didn’t fit in at the salons she previously worked at. She also had a vision for her ideal salon, and she realized the only way to be in an environment “suitable for her craft” was by starting her own.
And so, in 2000, she started her chapter book of life and opened Meldora hair salon. The vision paid off.
Over the course of the salon’s 16 year history, Skaggs met “wonderful” people and learned to offer more than hair services.
“Believe it or not, when you’re a stylist, you’re also a psychiatrist,” she said. “You’re literally hearing about that person’s life story and experiences.”
Her clients weren’t the only wonderful people she met. She also bonded with stylists.
“Seeing a stylist come in all shy and unsure of herself, and then blossom into this independent, ‘I know what I’m doing’ type. I like to see growth,” Skaggs said.
Skaggs prided herself in establishing an environment that encouraged employee growth, but also loved seeing her client base grow through the idea of being a multicultural salon.
“Having a vision for [being a multicultural salon] is one thing, but being able to see it unfold was awesome,” she said. “We dealt with people from all walks of life. From Europe to Africa, you name it. They walked through that door.”
Her vision didn’t stop at the salon. In 2014, Skaggs started a new chapter in her book. She called it Bleu Hanger, where she refined her affinity for fashion.
“I’ve always loved fashion, so seeing people come in and saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I love this! I love this, I love that! Oh my gosh!’ Hearing the accolades behind you staying up till 3 o’clock in the morning, and your labor, it’s rewarding,” she said.
Last month, Meldora hair salon closed permanently, but not because of Skaggs’ loss of desire for styling. She “needed something new, a new chapter.”
“I had been doing hair for 19 years, 19 great years,” she said. “I’m not switching because I don’t like hair anymore, because I will always love it. It’s my first love, but I felt like it was time for something different.”
Skaggs is more than just an entrepreneur. She’s a mother of two, too.
Taj, her oldest daughter and a sophomore at Decatur, describes her mother as an inspiration and
admires her “unique, out-of-the-box” personality.
“[My mother is] independent. She does it all herself,” she said. “She’s also a visionary, my mother. When she has something in her head, a lot of people can’t see her vision, but when it comes out, people are like ‘woah, that was really cool. I understand what you were talking about.’”
Taj watched her mom’s entrepreneurial story unfold.
“My mother didn’t start off with a lot of money, and she doesn’t come from a lot of money,” she said. “She built her way up. She started off just doing hair, and she made her businesses in Decatur.”
Not only that, but Meldora also serves as Taj’s role model.
“She shows me that women, a black woman, can be a business woman,” Taj said. “She shows me that I don’t have to work for anyone else in life. I can work for myself.”
That’s exactly what she plans to do.
She believes her mother’s work has enabled her to become a “people-person,” which to her means reading and talking to people.
With an entrepreneur mother, Taj’s experience in the work force started off young.
“You know how most kids have to wait till they’re 16 to get a job? Well, there was always a job for me at the salon,” she said. “I learned how to make money at a young age since I’ve had a job since I was 13.”
Salon life isn’t all work, though. Skaggs “always tries” to incorporate Taj and her youngest daughter Tia into her projects and the businesses.
At the hair salon, the mother-daughter trio joined forces to create shampoo bowls out of broken tiles and glue, where clients get their hair washed.
As simple as it was, making the shampoo bowls with her daughters was a memorable experience.
The projects, Skaggs said, were “like arts and crafts for them. For me, I was killing two birds with one stone.”
She accomplished more than creating memories for her children. Her success stories inspired the beginning of Taj’s.
“When I was younger, I wanted to go into cosmetology because of my mom,” she said. “I thought it was really cool, like how people do hair and stuff.”
But her mother’s merging and then diverging pathways guided her onto a more fitting route.
“Now, I think I want to go into retail, also because of my mom,” she said. “I really like the business part of it. Managing business and money… I wouldn’t be very good at doing hair.”
Whichever path Taj chooses, it will come with natural, unconditional love and support from her mother.