Candice Sutton saw a need when she moved to the Minot area three years ago. There was a gap when it came to the range of hair and beauty supplies available in the community.
“Instead of complaining about the problem, I felt like I would be a solution to the problem,” she said. “I’m from Illinois and the suburbs outside of Chicago, where we have a lot of variety. So to come here and then to not have it, it was a little disappointing. But I found an opportunity in it.”
Sutton opened Total Beauty Supply in Dakota Square Mall on March 29. Stocking products for men and women, the store focuses on female hair products but also carries cosmetics and skin and nail care products. It is open mall hours.
Having once worked as a licensed cosmetologist, Sutton earned a master of business administration in accounting and previously worked in the financial services industry.
“It’s always just been a passion of mine to open up my own business. I just never knew what. So when I got here, it was like ‘aha!’” she said. Her husband, Pierre Sutton, serves in the Air Force, and she and their four children joined him in Minot after he completed a deployment to Afghanistan.
Her store includes products that cater to African Americans, but Sutton said it is a universal supply store with products suitable for anyone.
“We have seen a lot of people from the community, not just African Americans, whether they are Caucasian or whether they are Native American or any other ethnic backgrounds. A lot of people come through here, both young and old. We’ve had an 8-year-old buy a wig, all the way to 90,” she said.
Total Beauty Supply carries a wide selection of wigs from various suppliers, getting in new products every week or two. The store carries both synthetic and human hair wigs, with a price range of $40 to $400.
Since opening, the store has added a hair-braiding expert who comes by appointment. It’s one of the changes Sutton says she has made as she hears from customers about what they want.
“I learned that I still have a lot to learn. Honestly, we’ve had customers come in and really educate me on other types of hair products, such as the hair toppers. That was not something that I was familiar with prior to opening. So it’s nice to get that kind of feedback. We’ve been bringing in additional products that I hadn’t even planned on carrying,” she said.
“My background is not in retail. I hadn’t worked in retail since high school. So this is definitely a change of pace for me,” she added. “It’s definitely shown me my strengths and my weaknesses.”
Before starting the business, she did her research, gauging what might work in North Dakota. She attended entrepreneurial and beauty industry seminars and conferences in Florida, Georgia and Illinois.
Finding a location in Minot was difficult, and Dakota Square was not on Sutton’s radar initially.
“Being a start-up business, I didn’t feel like I would have the capital or the backing necessary to get me into a space like this. But I’m going to say, after a lot of tears and trying to figure out how to work it and putting a lot of money on the line, I just went ahead and called,” she said.
She said the mall manager was on the fence regarding her proposal. When a member of his family told him she was interested in buying a wig, it opened his eyes to the market and opened a door for Sutton’s business.
Finding employees who would be the right fit was another challenge, but Sutton now has five employees who are knowledgeable to assist customers.
Sutton said many customers are shopping for a wig for the first time and appreciate having a sales person who can show them how to wear one and explain the different types. People enjoy being able to come into a local store and touch and try on a wig as opposed to traveling to a larger community or buying products online, she said.
The store assists customers who are undergoing cancer treatment or experiencing alopecia, and it’s important to understand their special needs, whether it involves wigs, caps or turbans, she said.
The store includes a wig fitting room where people who want privacy can find it.
The store’s decor also features a “word wall,” covered with encouraging words and phrases such as laugh, extraordinary and reach higher.
“I wanted them to be inspired,” Sutton said of her customers. “If you are having a bad day, hopefully, some of these words can uplift you.”
The business can be found online at totalbeautynd.com or on Facebook and Instagram @shoptotalbeauty.
(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or call 1-800-735-3229. You also can send email suggestions to [email protected])
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