When Rhona Johnson Deah first immigrated to the US in 2006 from West Africa, Guinea, she earned a degree as a medical assistant and worked for 14 years as dialysis technician. Then Rhona moved to Maine, where she had difficulty finding quality beauty services for natural black hair and decided to make an unexpected career move – she would become a cosmetologist and fill the gap herself.
To change professions, Rhona completed 3,000 hours of on-the-job cosmetology training and passed her boards in 2021, then began renting booth space from an existing salon. Now a licensed cosmetologist and certified lash technician, Rhona provides Maine’s black and multi-cultural women access to on trend, high quality professional salon services including a specialization in braiding, dreadlocks and hair and lash extensions.
With a mission is to enhance both the beauty and confidence of women by making them feel understood and appreciated, it wasn’t long before Rhona’s client base grew. Soon she had more clients requesting services than she could see during her limited hours at the rented booth. Interested in exploring the possibility of forming and operating her own business, Rhona reached out to CEI for help.
A CEI business advisor helped Rhona develop a business plan that covered services, financials, operations and marketing – all with an eye toward the unique skills and experience Rhona brings to her work. When Rhona found an ideal location for her new business in Biddeford – a former salon and that had furniture and equipment she could purchase from the owner at a discounted rate – Rhona reached back out to CEI for financing options.
In February 2022, Rhona secured financing through CEI’s Wicked Fast Loan product for working capital and to purchase the equipment, furniture and fixtures in her new space. Under the name of Rhona Beauty LLC, Rhona is offering her services from her new location and advertising booth space rentals, providing additional income to the business and helping the next generation of natural hair specialists get their start. Funding from the Wells Fargo grant supports both CEI’s advising services as well as serving as an important backstop to our Wicked Fast loans, so we may help more racially and ethnically diverse first-time business owners such as Rhona.
Learn more about Rhona Beauty LLC
LOOKING TO IMPROVE YOUR BUSINESS KNOW-HOW?
CEI offers a wide range of assistance to emerging and existing business owners. Through one-on-one consultation, training, workshops, seminars, peer networks and other services, CEI helps individuals across the state get the information they need to start or expand their business. In addition to providing general business assistance, CEI has programs for women; marine-related businesses; farms; ag and food businesses; and refugees and immigrants.
Check out the full range of CEIs Business Advising offerings at https://www.ceimaine.org/advising