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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Hair check: Sheila Dantzler

Entrepreneur’s salon suites brings upscale hairstyling to Bronzeville
Nathan Li
To provide a commercial salon space, Sheila Dantzler works closely with stylists including Savanna Finely to create a positive work environment. She believes creating work environments like the Suites will inspire the entrepreneurs of Bronzeville.

Sheila Dantzler was chasing her hairstylist all over Chicago. Traditional salons, rent-a-chairs, salon suites — Ms. Dantzler would do whatever it took to keep her hair in check. She figured out pretty quickly that her stylist bounced around for a variety of reasons. What made the stylist stay in one place was simple: She needed her own mini-salon space to manage clients in a low-maintenance environment. 

That’s when an idea popped into Ms. Dantzler’s head: She would bring a similar idea to Bronzeville. 

As a real estate broker, Ms. Dantzler works together with her husband, Eric Dantzler, to bring her designs and finishes to life. Together they worked to transform one of the 11 consecutive plots of land on 80 E. Pershing Road into a sustainable business. Their intent was to bring commercial development into the neighborhood. The opening of Bronzeville Salon Suites three years ago brought that goal to fruition. Today, 18 businesses get to call the Suites home.

“We want to bring more businesses to the area, and also quality housing. Meaning, beautiful new construction, nice finishes, good layout,” Ms. Dantzler said, “what you would see in any other neighborhood. We thought that we’d do our part to bring more businesses and new residents to the neighborhood.”

Ms. Dantzler was inspired by how stylists, particularly Black women, run their businesses. She wanted the Suites to feel like a luxury experience and, most of all, for the business owners to be proud to bring their clientele there. 

Savanna Finley owns Savanna’s Protective Styles, specializing in naturally textured hair. Her business aims to educate people on their hair type and to provide alternatives to using chemicals. Ms. Finley has been at the Suites since its opening in 2021. 

Ms. Finley’s nail tech recommended moving her business to Bronzeville Salon Suites after struggling to work in a shared space. Her ideal salon had to be pristine, professional and match her aesthetic. The Suites offered just that. 

“I was operating five booths in five different types of salons,” Ms. Finley said. “There comes a time when you do need your own space. This place allows me to service anyone by having my own salon versus renting a booth in someone else’s salon. I get to customize it for each client.”

It’s important to the Dantzlers to show examples of successful business ownership to combat stereotypes of Black-owned businesses. For Ms. Finley, the idea of having both a welcoming and a professional space was a deciding factor in moving her businesses into the Suites. 

“When you come in here, I don’t have to say ‘This is Black-owned,’ you feel it,” Ms. Finley said. “You come in and you automatically feel like this is for you.”

Ms. Dantzler is passionate about creating an environment where communities don’t fall apart because of a lack of economic stimulation. Bronzeville can’t reach its full potential without the support of its own community. 

“Our focus has really been to build up our community so that people feel proud of it. We don’t want to leave our community to spend dollars outside of it,” Ms. Dantzler said. “We should be able to spend that money here, and recycle those dollars.”

The Bronzeville Salon Suites above all else is a true marker of Black Excellence. Ms. Dantzer is passionate about representing her community and showing people how success can be achieved.

“As a woman, as a mother, as a mother of a daughter, those are the examples that I want her to see,” Ms. Dantzler said. “For me, being the business owner with my husband, even the stylists see us as minority business owners and think to themselves, ‘Wow, you’re the ones who own the building?’”

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About the Contributors
Victoria Washington
Victoria Washington, Opinion Editor
Victoria Washington is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as the Opinion Editor. She joined the journalism team in fall 2021 during her ninth grade year. Her favorite story she's written for the U-High Midway is “Artist raises $2,000 to restore Bronzeville mural.” She enjoys journalism because it provides an opportunity to communicate with others from different departments and see new perspectives. Aside from journalism, she enjoys historical fashion and watching documentaries. Awards: 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, Boston convention: Honorable mention, commentary writing 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Honorable mention, news writing
Nathan Li
Nathan Li, Photographer
Nathan Li, a member of the Class of 2025, is a beginning photojournalist. His favorite part of photojournalism is documenting sports and being able to include his friends. Outside of photojournalism, Nathan likes playing basketball and listening to music. 

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