Hairstylist Kenniqua “Nuk” Jones is the owner and lead stylist of the fabulous Salon 215 Elite in Conyers, Georgia. Known for her “Nuk Curls” and dedication to servicing only natural and relaxed clients, no extensions, her large social following has coined themselves #NukNation.
With her appointment book already scheduled months ahead, rolling out visited Nuk at Salon 215 to experience the hype for ourselves, and understand what gives her a special touch.
How did you get your start in the hair industry?
My first job was in a salon [when] I was 16. I worked in Philadelphia as a shampoo tech, so I got to see the back end and the hard work behind getting to the final result. I did that just to get me through high school, making some extra cash. Back in the ’90s hairstylists were killing it. That’s when they were doing 20 and 30 clients a day and you just waited because that was just the tradition of salons. I just remember on a good Saturday, coming home with a lot of money. Tired, back hurting, but thinking to myself, “man if this is what I made, imagine what [my boss] is making.” I just fell in love with the whole process of how [clients] would come in and how they would leave and just seeing a change in posture and attitude. Everything changes once a woman starts to feel beautiful and just to know that I had a small part made me feel good.
How did you come up with your signature NUK Curls?
I was looking for ways to curl the hair different from everybody else in such a saturated industry. I noticed that a lot of people weren’t curling with purpose. People were just flat-ironing and curling. [My curls] just became a signature and people were like “what do you call these curls?” and I’m like “uh … ” So I think one of my clients just kinda coined it “these are NUK Curls” and it just kinda stuck and it turned into a hashtag and just took off from there.
What is #NukNation?
Ironically, Nuk Nation is not about me. It’s really just about support, almost like a girl gang. Just women who inspire each other and coming from nothing, I always tell people “if Nuk can do it, anybody can do it” because I didn’t have funding. You just have to work hard. So Nuk Nation kinda began when people started to tell me like “man your story is really inspiring and just coming from how you started to where you are now.” I didn’t come up with it, somebody else came up with Nuk Nation. It’s just seeing another Brown girl just like you who didn’t have anything get to a point where she can now inspire and help others. That’s really where it started.
How important is science to the craft of hairstyling?
It’s very important. That is what sets a good hairstylist apart. There [are] a lot of girls who can curl hair, there [are[ lot of girls who can sew in some weave but science is the foundation of hair; just like your skin, your nails, just like food. Anybody can curl hair but can you explain the difference between curl patterns and can you explain the difference in porosity levels and density levels? And even when it comes to choosing the right products, you gotta know the science of Black hair. which is even trickier than just hair. … So it’s important, big time, to know the science and every facet, whether it’s the strand of hair or the products that you’re using. Very important.
What part do social media and social branding play in your business?
A huge part. Almost to the point where talent is overshadowed by [the] brand. There [are] a lot of people who brand themselves so well that you don’t even notice that they’re not talented. Those people tend to have a high following so for me, I try to do both. Make sure that the talent is there and genuineness is there and not just talent and “look at what I can do.” I try to show before [shots], after [shots] and engagement is really important in a lot of things that I teach in my classes. My clients already know if you come in here, it’s like Tyler Perry Studios; [there is] a camera over there, a camera over here, I’m going to be recording from iPhone over here because I want different angles. I don’t want every video to look the same. It’s just getting [clients] to get in the zone and know this is an experience. It’s fun and they see themselves on social media. That’s how you grow because it’s easier for your client to show [a video] than just to tell a person “oh you should check her out, she’s good.” … I probably, more than likely wouldn’t be [anywhere] near as booked and busy as I am if it wasn’t for social media.
What’s next for you?
I would like to go on tour with hair. It’s just something I’ve been putting off and it’s harder to do when you have a family. A tour where I’m servicing clients who can’t make it to me and teaching other stylists and expanding my product line. I have four items in my product line so just making a full product line is next. And I think I want at least one celebrity client.