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by Mary Worrell

Most small businesses hope to stay in business after a year with growth plans limited to things like an additional product line or a storefront. But Latonya Saunderson was different. She started her own small hair salon after moving to Atlanta in 2008 in a bit of rented office space and has since grown the business not only to a storefront, but to 10 salons in three states with more franchise locations on the way.

Saunderson opened The Weave Shop with its signature service – a $50 sew-in weave. Compared to the usual prices of sew-in weaves, often times between $200 and $400, The Weave Shop has created a niche with affordability without sacrificing on service, Saunderson said. This has been the key to the company’s exploding growth.

Originally from New York, Saunderson moved to Detroit to pursue a career in the music industry before close friends and her daughter’s desire to get involved in modeling lured her to Atlanta in 2007. A licensed cosmetologist, she quickly found a job in a salon. “I found a big demand for weaves in Georgia and was inspired to start my own business focusing on extensions,” Saunderson said. “I decided to open my first small location in a 400-square-foot office space with just a braider and myself.”

After some advertising in the local newspaper, Saunderson began to see a steady flow of clients and it became clear she was growing out of her small space. “After five months, we were overwhelmed in the small space – it was a fire hazard,” Saunderson said. “I had to break the lease and move to a full store front. We decided to open a sister location in Lawrenceville three months later and the Buckhead location three months [after that].”

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