By Beverly Richards
Special to the AFRO

March 23 will go down in infamy for Kim Dukes. That was the day her professional life came to a screeching halt when Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan sanctioned an emergency order to close all non-essential businesses due to COVID-19. Dukes was by no means prepared for this. 

“Never in all my years of being a cosmetologist would I have thought this would happen. I understood everything that was happening, but it was still hard to digest that it was happening to me,” said Dukes. The only time the young entrepreneur has ever closed her doors was when she had her two children.

K. Monique Salon and Vintage Boutique, located in the 2100 block of N. Charles St., is a unique fusion of artistry and style. (Courtesy photo)

Monique Salon and Vintage Boutique, located in the 2100 block of N. Charles St., is a unique fusion of artistry and style. The shop is a collaboration of hair styles and vintage clothing and has been in operation since 2008. Combining the two seemed like a no-brainer to Dukes. “I always dreamed of having my own salon and was determined to make it a reality.” She continues to have dreams and “what’s next” aspirations for the shop, that have not been cast aside but tweaked a little. “My short-term goal right now, of course, is to get my doors back open as soon as the restraints are lifted. Long-term, well, I have several in motion even as we speak,” she shared.

Once the decree is lifted, Dukes has two major projects underway. She plans to work with women with alopecia, hair loss, thinning hair or damaged hair, and get them on a course to restoration. “I’d like to call it a movement, called For the Love of Hair (F.L.O.H.). The goal,” she continued, “is for women to embrace their natural beauty, without weaves or wigs or extensions. To simply embrace what God has given them and learn how to maintain it and keep it healthy.” Dukes’s plans for the boutique segment of her business is to expand the clothing line. “I go to thrift stores to find unique vintage pieces. I always take a vintage piece and pair It with a trendy piece, thus giving me a unique but stylish look. I now call this look, ‘Trentage,’ a bit trendy a bit vintage.”

Her clients may not be able to get their hair done, but they are still shopping. “Right now, I have a T-shirt line and we are selling T-shirts, ‘Trust Your Dopeness’ and ‘Trentage.’” She repurposes coats, denim jackets and blazers and makes what she has coined “Patched Koats. “Doing these things brings some extra income while I am unable to get behind my chair physically. I am able to use my creative abilities and for that I’m grateful.”

Like other business owners, Dukes has no way of knowing when she will be able to reopen. Neither does she know the magnitude of the effect the coronavirus will have on her business, but she remains optimistic. “What I do know is, it will end. I will reopen. I am confident, and I will not waiver in my faith.”