Yolanda Keels-Walker understands the stresses of beauty and hair as far as time and maintenance. That's why she created Suite Extensions, a hair salon dedicated to affordable hair extensions. What makes her story interesting? She's not a cosmetologist! Instead, a savvy entrepreneur who began her business based on her experience as a customer. "It was kind of a selfish idea, but I know a lot of people like me who are kind of at a lost when it comes to beauty services so I just kind of filtered around all of the things I felt were missing and all of the things I thought would be a benefit in my life and that other women could relate with," she said. With locations in Germantown (Philadelphia) and Richmond, VA, Suite Extensions services start at just $50. Owner Yolanda explains more below:
ALIYA FAUST: Tell me about Suite Extensions…
YOLANDA KEELS-WALKER: I have one in Germantown (Philadelphia) and one in Virginia. Honestly, I'm a rookie when it comes to hair. Just being a girl and just being in different circles and having lots of friends, we all kind of had the same dilemma when it came to traditional salons. So for me, business is paramount. I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Anytime that you can kind of satisfy a need for people, you typically do well. The biggest need I had, at that time in my life, was being able to look and feel beautiful and not break the bank. That's what kind of spawned the idea.
What are your specialty services there?
We specialize in extension services as far as natural hair. A lot of natural girls, myself included, we love protective styles. A lot of times you don't have the time to do all the maintenance and upkeep that comes with maintaining your natural hair so extensions are a great way to still look a certain way and still protect your natural hair.
What's your clientele like?
We service everybody from first ladies to exotic dancers to professionals to students. Everyone comes.
How about the atmosphere?
Well it's called Suite Extensions and suite is a play on words. It's ultra feminine, yet modern and mature. On Thursdays we do an event called "Party over Hair." We bring in a DJ, we bring in cocktails, and we make it a really fun atmosphere.
You kind of mentioned earlier how Suite Extensions isn't your typical salon because of your focus, but what else stands out about your salon over others who specialize in the same?
Our price point, really. Our prices are really affordable. Most weaves will run you anywhere between $250-$400 and our pricing starts at $50.
That's pretty good for a weave.
Definitely. And we don't just do hair in the store. We do lots of outside events and activities, like fashion shows, hair shows and things like that.
What would you say are the top 3 "don'ts" of wearing extensions?
Number one is don't neglect your natural hair. I think a lot of times women look at extensions as an easy out, but you still have to protect your hair underneath. Two, make sure you're using quality extensions. I started a product line of extensions and of actual products that are really, really good on extensions. Not all products are made for extensions. That's paramount. Third, a lot of people leave them in too long. Just make sure you're getting it maintenance appropriately. I would say every two weeks.
The braids under the weave… describe that a little.
The braids should be tight, but not tight to where they're giving you a headache or pulling your hair. You definitely have to be cognitive about that. And if they do hurt, tell the stylist! The braiding patterns [underneath] really depend on the style you're going with. There's so many different types of patterns you can use.
I once talked to a lady who was anti-circle in regards to braiding patterns, how do you feel about that circle/crown braiding around the head?
It doesn't necessarily bother me. How I typical wear my hair, the circle pattern isn't required, but for certain styles, that might give you the best space.
What's the difference between having a complete closure - a style option listed on your site - versus not having a closure?
The closure allows all of your natural hair to be sewn up. It's not as realistic as leaving some of your natural hair out, but you can still achieve a great look with the closure. Without the closure, you're leaving some of your natural hair out to cover the weft of the extensions. The main difference is some of your hair being left out and some of it not.
Want to book an appointment? Visit suiteextensionssalon.com or call 215-844-4247 (Philadelphia)/757-963-5255 (Richmond, VA). Check out pinklabelbeauty.com for beauty products by Yolanda Keels-Walker.