Beauty supply stores are often present in African American communities, but Black owned beauty supplies remain a rarity. Lamiya Kirby, owner of Joyce Essentials, opened the doors of her beauty supply store located at 375-A Gambrills Road in Gambrills, Maryland because she “never felt comfortable going into the local beauty supply stores.”
Kirby grew up in Annapolis. She whipped hair into shape on the side for friends and family when she was a student attending Delaware State University. The business owner transferred schools and became a Coppin State University alumna. She later took an entrepreneurial leap by opening Joyce Essentials in 2021. Her store is named after Joyce Gross—her late grandmother.
“She’s always been a huge inspiration for me,” Kirby said, reminiscing.
Kirby, who also works in the social work field, blends business with offering free community support.
“We have a bunch of haircare and skincare products. It’s a store in the front and there’s a small section in the back for a salon, where I do serve foster parents and foster children,” Kirby said.
Kirby is also a licensed stylist who opened the salon portion of her business in 2022 because of a unique partnership that arose with a nonprofit leader. Robert Cradle, the founder of Anne Arundel County-based Rob’s Barbershop Community Foundation, is known for bridging a gap to support underserved people who lack access to grooming services. Kirby met Cradle because he became a regular customer who patronized Joyce Essentials.
“He told me about the things he does. I asked him if it was something that we can work together to do because I wanted to give back to the community,” Kirby said. “We found a target audience and we realized that there were kids in school who received reduced lunch that don’t have access to haircare. We also targeted foster parents and their children.”
These parents are typically unaware of how to care for their foster children’s hair because the children may not have the same hair texture as them. Kirby explained that the individuals who are referred to her are scattered around Anne Arundel County. She provides natural hair care services such as cornrows, two strand twists and silk presses for girls and lock maintenance and shape-ups for boys. The first service is free of charge.
Cradle mentioned some of Kirby’s winning attributes that stood out along with her willingness to participate to serve youth.
“You rarely find somebody with a combination of product knowledge, and then the skill of providing natural hair care and she has a psychology degree,” Cradle said. “Lamiya’s learning how to operate her own project the same way we’ve been doing for 22 years.”
Cradle hopes that Lamiya can run a project on her own someday. Kirby added that she wants to lend a hand to youth long term.
Other grateful youth in need who currently sit in her salon chair are students who receive free or reduced lunch at Van Bokkelen Elementary School located in Severn, Maryland. Their services are provided without them ever needing to pay.
“All of the children that have come from the school are repeat customers. I see them once a month,” Kirby said. “From what I’ve learned from the children that I’ve served so far, some just can’t afford it [paid hair services] or they don’t have time, or some just don’t care to do their hair, honestly. The school has selected a lot of the children [for referrals]. I notice that their grades may be affected by them not being able to get their hair done because there’s a lot of bullying going on.”
Kirby wants more people to know about the services that she offers. She mentioned that she is open to explore additional options to help more youth beyond ones who are currently served. Kirby is open to individuals reaching out to her to explore how she may lend a hand more in Anne Arundel County.
“There may be a target audience that I can look into and come up with a program for them as well,” Kirby said.
Cradle noted Kirby’s impact by being a cohort member of his nonprofit. She “reduced the barriers to grooming for Anne Arundel County children in foster, adoptive or kinship care children by 30 percent” and since November of 2022, Kirby “has reduced barriers to grooming for Van Bokkelen Elementary School students by two percent.”
Kirby was selected as “Fox 45’s Champion of Courage” in February. You may donate to support youth in need of grooming services by visiting www.joyceessentials.com. Inquiries may also be sent to Kirby through the website.