Jul 132017
 

Laurita Dallas & Lilbo of A Touch of Elegance

Founded in 1994, A Touch of Elegance is a beauty and barber salon located in the heart of Central City. Their stylists and barbers cater to all kinds of people and hair types. Whether you are looking for a new hairstyle or a shape up, they know a great haircut can make all the difference.

Shopkeepers: Laurita Dallas & Lilbo
Shop: A Touch of Elegance
Since: 1994

What ignited the spark in you to start your business?
Laurita: When I got out of high school, I didn’t know which way I wanted to go. After having a few different jobs, I made the decision to open up a daycare called Labo Preschool, which my son and I owned for 10 years.

While the daycare was open, I opened a beauty salon on Jackson and St. Charles. Then, we opened another location on Carrollton Avenue and this salon, A Touch of Elegance 2. In the midst of opening those two salons, we closed the daycare center–and I do miss the kids. In total, I’ve been in business for about 30 years.

I like to have my hands in everything. I had a boutique on Magazine Street, I was printing t-shirts, I was selling hair and beauty supplies–I was doing a lot. Over time, I had to let some things go.

What makes New Orleans businesses so special?
Lilbo: Most New Orleans businesses have their different feels. Some are a little fancier here, and others are more cultural like our business. My family is all Mardi Gras Indians.

Who are your ideal customers?
Laurita:
We patronize to all. Our salon really balances itself out because one side is a barbershop and the other side is a beauty salon. We get as many women as men coming in. Since we started our business, we never wanted to patronize only one side.

Lilbo: Everyone cuts everyone. Our stylists cut different types of hair: Caucasian, Black, and more. In this neighborhood, I think we are in the wrong area to be stuck on one type of person. I used to do hair just for one race because I was scared of everybody’s hair texture, but I had to get out of that. In this area, we are close to St. Charles and hotels, so we get all kinds of people that walk in. As the neighborhoods here have different people moving in, you get all kinds of people coming through.

If your shop was a cocktail, what kind would it be?
Laurita: I would say a margarita. That’s my favorite cocktail. It’s elegant, feminine, and it’s a cool and refreshing drink. I think we have a cool salon.

Describe your business in a few words.
Lilbo: At A Touch of Elegance, you might come in looking one way, but you’re gonna leave looking another. When you walk out of here, you’ll feel good about yourself. That’s what it’s all about. You may come into the shop, you know, feeling a little down and rugged, but you’ll leave with your chest puffed out.

How do you define “success” in your business?
Lilbo: At the end of the day, we want everyone to be satisfied. As a business owner, you know, it might not be my ideal day every day, but I am still a business owner and it’s still my business I’m running.

You know you have to get up early and you can’t be coming into the barbershop at 1 o’clock. I get here at least 7:45 or 8 a.m. every morning, even if I don’t feel good. A lot of people want to get in early and get out early. Most people don’t want to sit in a barbershop all day. When I used to go to a barbershop, half of my Saturday would be gone because that’s how long it took! You wait because you gotta get a haircut. I like to set appointments. If someone is just a walk in, I still try to get the person out fast.

Laurita: We want our customers to come back. Our stylists feel the same way. We want to live up to the representation of our brand.

What are your current or any upcoming goals for your business and/or community?
Laurita: To get finished with this construction! First off, I would like to get my building back in shape because the construction shook it loose. We do get a little irritated with different situations, but I know the construction is going to make it better and more beautiful for the area, which is gonna make the business better. So, my thing right now is just to relax, let it happen, and be prepared once it’s finished to do what I have to do to bring the business back to where I know it can be. My daughter and I have been putting ideas and plans together. It’s all about timing. 

What’s your favorite local biz in your area?
Lilbo: My favorite is the Bead Shop on Magazine Street. They have all kinds of beads there and they have classes for kids.

What advice would you give a new Business owner?
Lilbo: Get some sleep before the construction starts (laughs).

Laurita: Learn to have patience. When the construction started, my patience was short. Very short. Also, pray. The kind of construction that we are experiencing can literally shut a business down. I’m praying hard that it’ll hurry up and finish. It’s hard felt on our income, and that’s stressful. You know, you really just have to learn how to deal. Either you pick up and move or you stay with the odds.

A Touch of Elegance Beauty & Barber Salon
1803 Louisiana Ave, NOLA 70115

(504) 269-5741

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While drainage system improvements and road construction make “shopping local” a bit more challenging in the short term, the critical improvements mean our city will be safer and stronger for generations to come. We hope you are inspired and continue to shop small and shop local—even if it takes a little extra time!

The Shopkeeper Stories are brought to you by StayLocal, the Greater New Orleans independent business alliance, in partnership with Uptown Messenger. Learn about their work or become a member at www.staylocal.org or email info@staylocal.org.