Ouley Beye came to America and found her place on Upshur Street

Ouley Beye came to the US from Senegal and founded her career on hard work and a dream.

This is the next story in a series about the women entrepreneurs and business owners along Upshur Street in Petworth. Join us as we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th with a special community event free for the whole family.

by Wanda Lucas

Ouley Beye, owner of Ouley’s Hair Salon at 834 Upshur Street NW, opened her shop in 2012. Enthusiastic about her second location, she changed the wall color to purple, her favorite, and selected furniture to support five stylists. While she is concerned that business on Upshur has slowed in recent years, she remains optimistic.

Ouely arrived in the United States in 2001. As a recently divorced, young woman from Senegal she found it difficult to find a job as a non-English speaker. People close to her explained the growth potential for providing hair care services. She decided this was an area she wanted to pursue and quickly began her quest to have her own business. She learned English in addition to the other three languages she speaks and began braiding women’s hair at a shop on Minnesota Avenue. She studied, developed a loyal customer base and soon opened her first shop on West Virginia Avenue, NE.

Ouley Hair Gallery at 834 Upshur Street NW

What appears to drive Ouley as a business owner is greater than just being profitable. She loves to empower others to fulfill their dreams. “It’s still going to be a dream until you make it happen,” she said.

Ouley proudly states, “If I can make it, anyone can.”  

Through her business she is able to help other stylists develop and grow a solid group of clients as well as learn the hair styling business. She offers assistance to individuals desiring to open their own business and looks for persons who want to believe in themselves and are willing to work hard toward their dream.  “I tell them all of the time. If you put 10% into your dream, you will get 10% back. But if you put 100% of your effort behind it, your dream will become a reality.”

Ouley’s bright smile illuminates her beautiful, smooth skin when she describes the joy she receives from engaging with her customers. Since I had her attention and was familiar with the therapist like role hair stylists can play in the lives of their customers, I questioned her about good hair care. She spoke prophetically about the importance of using natural products whenever possible to clean and deeply condition one’s hair. She further explained how healthy eating and drinking lots of water help not only your hair but also your skin. The secret to her glowing skin - drinking water infused with aloe vera juice.

Ouley is offering a discount to first time clients who mention this story! Stop by and see her at 834 Upshur Street NW.

More Articles in this Series…

Wanda Lucas

As residents address the changing urban space and the craziness of the holiday season, family issues including parenting and caretaking, mental health needs may get ignored. That’s why Heidi Vanderwerff and Marjorie Strachman Miller started Kennedy Counseling Collective (508 Kennedy Street NW), with the goal of offering an inviting space that fosters a place of mental healing and health. They are committed to helping people find their voice along with the life they want to live as city dwellers.

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