Detroit hairstylist prefers word of mouth over social media

Beauty entrepreneur Ebony Riley describes how she mixes both ‘old school’ and the new when navigating her business
Photo courtesy of Ebony Riley

From braiding her baby dolls’ hair to owning Salon Centerfolds in Detroit, Ebony Riley has always had a knack for hairstyling. Now, she’s a champion of natural hair care, ensuring her clients’ weaves look as authentic as their own locks.

Riley explained to rolling out how she’s navigating social media as a 15-year hair professional and business owner.

What led you to become a hairstylist?

I started with my baby dolls as a child. My grandmother was into braiding, and she used to braid our hair. [I’m] not sure if you’re familiar with “Da Brat” braids, but they were popular back in the day. [My grandmother] used to always give my sister and me this style. I was so interested in how she would get those braids to look “crazy” like that. I just paid attention, studied her, and kept practicing on my baby dolls until one day, I tried it on my sister, and I was kind of good at it.

How did Aveda Institute set you up for success?

I went to Aveda, but I did [everything] kind of backward. I did hair [professionally] before I went to school. Sometimes, everyone doesn’t do it the right way. It’s never too late to do it the way you want to do it. I did hair, owned a salon, and [everything] before I attended Aveda. I was in the game for a while, and I started in the game [around] 2010 with my salon. I didn’t go back to get my license until 2014. Aveda was great; I met a lot of great people [and] teachers and took amazing classes. I [also] learned a lot of coloring techniques from them; they were super skilled.

What does Salon Centerfolds specialize in?

As for me, I specialize in natural hair care. You’re going to get a natural sew-in or quick weave. When you leave here, it’s going to look like it’s coming from your scalp, bottom line. I started off braiding, but I somehow got into [installing] weave and natural hair care. I don’t only care about the weave looking good; I also care about your natural hair looking good. My clients are my everything, so I care about them internally and on the outside as well.

What is navigating social media as an established hair professional and salon owner like?

I’m “old school” with everything. This social media and content thing is a bit much; it’s like another job. I started at a great time where, back in the day, [there] was more word of mouth, cards, and flyers. I did books and [more], but now you have to have social media and content. I’m kind of [liking it more]. I see that my followers and clients like to [see] what goes on in my personal life as well. I’ve been trying to post a lot for them so people [can] get to know me, my work, and see what I do.


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