Synia Jordan – Synia J’s Salon

You would never know the incredible obstacles that Synia Jordan has overcome to become the successful business owner she is today.

Synia describes the beginning of her business journey as being a time when she was very young and would work alongside her grandma at her grandma’s soul food restaurant, the Chicken Shack. Also named Synia, her grandma was a fantastic cook who employed people of all ages and backgrounds and inspired many people in the community. Young Synia and her sister spent a lot of time with their grandma, and didn’t know it as youngsters, but they were learning important business lessons and work ethic as they cooked.

When they had free time in the evenings, the young girls would braid each other’s hair, and Synia remembers spending her pocket money on hair accessories, always changing her own hair and that of her sister whenever she could. She excelled at it, but never thought about beauty as a career. Synia had other problems to face before considering her career options. It was at this time that she said, “A lot of things happened,” including dropping out of school, running away from home, and becoming pregnant. But Synia wanted a good life for her child, so she returned home, went back to school and graduated one month before giving birth. One month later, she was enrolled in college.

Her first career idea was to pursue nursing, but soon she felt she should just find something “to get a job.” Nothing seemed right, and it didn’t really make sense. Struggling, Synia found a program to help displaced homemakers. While in the program, she was referred to Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW), a Small Business Administration Women’s Business Center. It was then that she thought back to her grandma’s teaching, and the inspiration she received from her grandma’s message that if you have a gift, you should spread it throughout the community. The program she was in helped her get her cosmetology license and work in other salons, but Synia knew she wanted her own business, so she came to GROW for the business ownership curriculum (then called Minding Your Own Business) and learned everything she needed to know to feel confident in starting her business.

Synia began writing her business plan to focus on how she was going to accomplish her dream. In reviewing the plan, she and the GROW staff person noticed that she transposed letters. “It was then that I found out I was dyslexic.” That didn’t stop her from finishing her plans, finding a building, and opening her business after a year of renovations to the burned out commercial space in her neighborhood.

Since that time over ten years ago, Synia has added an additional station to her salon and employs another stylist. The women do manicure and pedicure services as well as all kinds of hair beautification. Not wanting to spread herself too thin, Synia hasn’t taken on any more staff people because she is comfortable with the size how it is, and says she’s thankful for her “respectful and loving clientele” that continue to seek her help. Her specialty is in addressing hair issues—not just covering them up. She mixes her own products and knows what it takes to develop healthy, strong hair. Her clients love the comfortable and uplifting environment in the salon, and Synia has no trouble staying busy.

The most amazing part of Synia’s story is not just her business success after years of adversity, but also that she has found heartwarming ways to give back. She takes her knowledge and passion out into the community where she has volunteered with D.A. Blodgett Children’s Hospital and Bethany Christian Services to run a class showing parents of newly-adopted African American children how to do their children’s hair. She sees young people come in who wear hats, or won’t come out of their shells because they’re not confident in how they look, and feel isolated. Synia knows that she can help these families to give everyone the confidence and self-esteem they need to be happy and follow their dreams.

“It’s hard to break that shell, but with a loving touch, that can change. I remember times when just one touch changed my life. I want to pass that on.” On top of that, she’s very active in the school system and volunteers as a Parent Action Leader with Grand Rapids Public Schools. Having gone through her entire education unaware of her dyslexia, Synia believes in educating and training teachers to notice these problems that kids may have to overcome, and having the resources and passion to address them.

Synia’s goals for the future are to continue doing everything that she does to serve her clients on a daily basis at her salon. She isn’t planning on growth now, but wants to do more volunteering and raising awareness to help fight kidney disease, diabetes, and heart disease. Synia notes that these illnesses are higher in the Hispanic and African American communities, and her daughter especially wants to work to eradicate them. Their family has lost members to the conditions, and Synia’s daughter is hoping to help find a cure.

Synia is also working with GROW on a project to find potential women business owners in her community and to empower them to pursue entrepreneurship.