We are pleased to introduce this week’s Woman of Style & Faith, Toni Lucas. Toni is a senior hairstylist, entrepreneur, real estate investor and the CEO & Founder of both Mi’TreChic LLC and Sisters Sad No More Empowerment Organization. Miss Toni Lu blessed us with some serious transparency sharing her story of how she’s overcome years of challenge-after-challenge, but now uses that victorious spirit to help other women overcome and become triumphant too. This multifaceted woman chats not only about faith, losses & gains, but also how she feels overwhelmingly excited about her upcoming event – We Are Overcomers Extravaganza that launches her dynamic Sisters Sad No More Empowerment Organization. Although, she’s faced some serious obstacles in producing this event, even going against the recommendations of those that really care who are close to her to postpone to a later date. Knowing that they meant really well, she decided to move forward regardless, going full-throttle, putting her total trust in God to make provision for the vision He placed in her heart. And we must say we are so glad she did! We commend this strong woman of faith; her story is the embodiment of what we strive to champion here on the Saintly Style Blog - #StyleAndSubstance. Please read and be blessed by Toni Lu’s interview below!
Tell us a little about yourself personally and what you do professionally. What inspires you about what you do?
My name is Toni Lucas, I’m the 50-year-young, mom of two - son Leon, 32 and daughter Amelah, 20, and a divorcee after 11 years of marriage. I’m also caretaker for my mother who has stage four cancer. I have been a cosmetologist for 30 plus years, I’m also an Entrepreneur, Realtor and the Founder & CEO of Mi'TreChic LLC and Sisters Sad No More Empowerment Organization. I was formerly the partner in a hair salon by the name of Textures And Tones for three years, then became the sole owner of TreChic Couffeur Salon for six years . I closed down my Salon in 2009 due to the failing economy.
I never planned on becoming a hair stylist. I truly believe it was God's plan for my life. I always thought I would dress up in my suits and heels and go to my office with a big window and beautiful view. I am really serious. I was 19-years-old riding on the bus going to see my son's father in prison. Yes prison, lol. (Sidebar: In defense of my son's father, when I initially met him, he had a good office job working for Bell Atlantic, but got caught up into the times of street life and fast money as many young men did during that period, but he's a good guy and we have a great relationship) On the bus this particular day, I sat beside this young lady and we begin to talk. I mentioned to her that I was looking for a new job. At the time I was working at Roy Rogers restaurant and I had a one-year-old son, whose father was in prison, so obviously I needed more income. The young lady asked me if I could shampoo hair because she worked in a hair salon downtown. I responded, “I can shampoo my own.” We laughed! She said they paid $375 a week which was more than I was making at Roy Rogers, so I said give me the information and I will visit the salon tomorrow. I went that next day, but the young lady decided that she was going to keep the guy that she already had another chance and keep him on board. I was about to walk out the door and a lady called me back and said she liked my outfit and then she asked if I was there to get a job, I replied yes. I told her what happened with the other lady about giving the guy another chance. She went on to ask if I knew how to shampoo and if I ever worked in a hair salon. I told her no, but I was willing to learn whatever I needed to in order to do so. While she couldn’t pay me $375, she was able to pay me $175 a week only, which was still more than what I made at Roy Rogers, so I took the offer. The lady told me to be there at 9 a.m. the next morning and thus I started at Adean's Hair Salon in 1986 as a shampoo assistant for Sandra Bland. At the time Adean's was a very successful salon, but when I left a year-and-half later with Sandra who started Sandra And The Stars, its success surpassed that of Adeans and was one of the top and most sought out salons in the 1980s thru the early 90s for African-American women in the Washington, DC area. It was there I became a hairstylist through an apprenticeship program and went on take make a very impressive amount of money as a first year stylist. I even was awarded the Most Outstanding Young Hairstylist among my peers that first year!
I'm inspired by being a hairstylist because I love helping women look good and feel good about themselves. I'm also inspired being an entrepreneur because I love to be able to do what I like and go when I like to. I also love creating ways to make more money and having no limit to the amount of money I can make or the use of my potential and gifts within me.
How do you couple your faith with what you do professionally?
Being an entrepreneur and hairstylist you never know exactly how much money you are going to make each month. I haven't began working as a realtor or investor yet. However, it works the same. So regarding how I maintain my life along with my relationship with God, I pray a great deal and I asked God to bless me with clients and a successful event. I truly put my faith in God, not my clients. I have experienced a lot of disappointment from clients that I have given discounts to or did free when they have either lost their jobs, gotten sick or been abandoned by mates and left with only one income . So I don't trip I just pray and just do my best to serve them when they sit in my chair for hair care.
How do you manage and a maintain balance in the different aspects of your professional & personal life along with your relationship with God?
I go to church, however not every Sunday, but I listen to gospel and worship music all day, that’s how I stay motivated and get through each day. And of course, I pray throughout the day. I basically play nothing but Christian music in my car, at times my friends will laugh while riding with me saying, “Toni we are getting ready to go to the club and you’re listening to nothing but gospel music.” Yes, this is the case, and I make no apologies for my faith, and the God I believe and trust in.
What advice can you give others who have interests in what you do, what type of direction would you give them?
My advice to someone who would like to do hair is to enroll in and finish cosmetology school. Then go work at a salon where they can receive continuous education and great guidance from senior stylists. Also, pay your taxes, and both your health and disability insurances and invest in your retirement. Be professional and prompt for work at all times. It's truly a great career; I wouldn't change being a hairstylist all these years for nothing. I LOVE IT!!!
What’s been your greatest accomplishment thus far?
My greatest accomplishment has been being a mother that my children can be open with, being a good daughter to my mom, and being a good, loyal friend (so they tell me. Lol). Also becoming a hairstylist and being a true woman of God who is transparent in so many areas of my life, so much so that it enables me to help other women.
Tell me about the any challenges you’ve faced, how you endured and what keeps you wedded to what you do?
A big challenge for me is, as a self-employed individual, you never know exactly how much you're going to make and if you’re going to make enough to pay your bills. Also, now standing on my feet for so many hours, I get tired faster. Being that I’m a good stylist with over 30 years under my belt, I have a pretty okay clientele and God's favor is on my life so I just continue to go day-by-day knowing that He's going to provide everything I need. I’ve never thought of getting another job. I’m thankful and God has blessed me, and as I mentioned, I trust God for provision and do my best to serve.
Having to be concerned with financial stability and the physical strain that comes from standing styling hair can be difficult to handle, even now. Years before that I had to deal with something really major- the death of my infant daughter. I was nine months pregnant when I went to the doctor on a Tuesday and my baby was just fine, and by Wednesday I wasn't feeling any activity from her. So I told my friend, if I didn't feel her moving I was going to the doctor the next day. On Thursday, I went to see my doctor, only to hear him tell me my baby girl was dead. Just a year ago, I was challenged with ultimate divorce from my 'wasband' (was my husband) due to our failing marriage. We met in church, dated, got engaged in 2003, married in 2005 and unfortunately divorced in 2016.
I’ve had to endure many health challenges, including battling issues with fibroids. I actually have no spleen, no gallbladder, no agnoids, no tonsils - all gone. And dare I forget to mention I have a very rare 1 and 100 million blood disorder, hemoglobin CC (sickle cell trait). Once they were able to actually identify and diagnose what I had, the doctors said I could hit the lottery with my odds on that one, Lol! This is one of the reasons I closed my salon along with the failing economy. However, it the was one of the best things that ever happened because I was sick and needed to care for myself, but I couldn’t fully tend to my health because I had to keep working to make sure everyone else could still work and get paid. Although I was still working, I couldn’t pay myself though because of my responsibilities as the owner to my employees, as they had to get paid first. After I paid them, there was really nothing left for me. So closing the salon was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed me to obtain better insurance and get the rest/care I needed and the surgery necessary to resolve my issue. I had truly become the woman with the issue of blood, bleeding for three straight months before having my procedure. Although these situations were a tremendous burden and devastating in some cases (losing my baby), I certainly don’t look like, neither do I sound like what I’ve been through. God took care of me through it all. I trust Him because He’s proven Himself so faithful to me. Even my wasband and I are really good friends today, because I/we choose to be. When God has kept you and blessed you in spite of, there's no time to be bitter, scorned and walking around with your head hung low. I truly thank God for His grace and His joy, and I know my story will help if not many, at least one women to endure and overcome. Helping other women to become beautiful and victorious, keeps me wedded to what I do.
What about fashion do you love most? Are there any new trends or concepts in fashion that’s piqued your interest as of late?
I love to wear black I guess because I'm a hairstylist and that is part of our uniform, however; I wear black even when I'm not working. I also love maxi dresses, that's my signature look, they’ve always looked good on me and fit well on my body type. I love big statement neck pieces and I love hoop earrings. Leggings and high heels are also favorites for me, I have been wearing heels since the 8th grade!
What about innovations or trends in hairstyling and haircare, as your hairstyle is very much a huge part of a woman’s style? Do you have any particular designers/stores/brands that you just love and even prefer when actually shopping for clothes? If so, tell me why these in particular are your go-to?
I don’t really trip on new trends. In terms of hairstyling, I love weaves or ‘extensions’ as they’re called now because it’s easy care. I also love short haircuts and color. Today, I'm not really caught up on designer clothing and expensive stores, in particular. I just like nice quality clothing and real leather bags, especially love high-end on sale. I feel money saved is money made.
Are there any particulars celebrities or personalities whose style you admire, and why?
I love the style of Kim Kardashian and Lala Anthony. Both these ladies bodies are shaped similar to mine. I think their styles are sexy and classy.
Is there anything you will not wear even if it’s considered haute or on trend?
I hate mini-skirts because I have a big buttock and the skirt rises up all the time. Even if it's haute couture or the on-trend thing, I won't wear it. I won't wear anything that doesn't look right on me.
I have a witty style question that I like asking all you stylish gals of faith, “What’s Your Style Innuendo” (the way you would like others to consider or view what your style is without you even saying a word when they see you)?
My style innuendo, I would say is classy, stylish and sexy.
How would you describe your overall style (lifestyle) – dress, education, personality, things you do, your circle etc?
My lifestyle is a little complex today. My education is continuing. I'm a strong willed compassionate woman. I love to go on vacations and be with my family and true friends.
How has your overall style evolved in the past few years?
My style has changed just a little, I wear less jeans and more dresses.
This blog series is about not only highlighting careers, businesses and accomplishments, but transforming style from the inside out, therefore, how can one transform their style and faith in a positive progressive manner, maintain it and do so without compromise?
Be yourself and those things you don't like about yourself or you feel needs to change that are beyond your control, pray and give those things to God and allow Him to do the transforming, as you submit yourself to Him.
What are your thoughts on saved folk wearing tattoos- just like wearing an accessory and you do wear it as an accessory, or are you against it personally because of scripture?
I’m a saved, GOD loving and fearing woman. I have 5 tattoos. They all mean something for me, so that's all that counts, and not because of any fad, but what they represent to me.
What’s next on the horizon for you professionally and personally?
I’m excited that I just finished real estate school and am looking forward to becoming an investor. My biggest enthusiasm is my Sisters Sad No More Empowerment Organization, LLC. I am launching my inaugural event in the Washington, D.C. metro area: the We Are Overcomers Extravaganza! This is full out women’s empowerment event on Sunday, June 25th @3pm in The Hampton Conference Center, featuring dynamic speakers and entertainers, with powerful stories of triumph that will uplift everyone in attendance. Saying that I’m SUPER EXCITED about this event is an understatement. I truly believe being a hairstylist is the way God led me to get me to this point in my life to help other women, as it’s afforded me the opportunity to meet so many different women and to pour into their lives. This is the reason why I will never regret becoming a hairstylist. I think about how I planned and hosted my first event years ago, which was one of the largest kiddie cabarets in the DMV on Valentine's Day and the other events including fashion and hair shows, not realizing all these years later that I would be producing one of the biggest events of my life. Those events helped to prepare me for my assignment today- the opportunity for God to use me to impart life, hope and deliverance on a even greater level, into lives of so many women. This is such a great honor to me. I desire women to be free, empowered and triumphant in every area of their lives not only within. It's my prayer and endeavor to accomplish just that with this event! What I want for myself, I want for others. How could I want success and wealth for myself and not want it for others. #TTHANKUGOD #sisterssadnomore
Be sure to connect with Toni on the following platforms and purchase tickets for her event at:
Facebook: Sisters Sad No More Empowerment Organization
Facebook: Toni Lu