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story.lead_photo.caption Kumba Brewer, left, and Candy Wright pose Saturday, June 19, 2021, for a portrait at their Jefferson City business, Essence Salon and Beauty Supply. Photo by India Garrish / News Tribune.

Kumba Brewer is hoping to help Jefferson City customers find their essence.

That's the tag line of Brewer's salon and beauty supply store, Essence, which recently opened at 431 E. McCarty St. Brewer, a recent graduate of Lincoln University, said she has been doing hair since she was a young teen. At the time, she and her mother had recently arrived in Jefferson City from the West African nation of Liberia to join Brewer's father, who was already in the area.

Brewer said when they first arrived, it was tough to afford the same things as other girls her age, such as getting her hair done professionally, as the Liberian dollar was worth much less than the American dollar. (Current exchange rates show one Liberian dollar as being worth about 58 cents in American currency.) So she had to learn how to do her own hair, she said.

After a while, Brewer said, people began asking her to do their hair, and her business began, growing out of her apartment and into the salon now located on East McCarty Street.

"I decided to get a place of my own," Brewer said, noting she opted to add the beauty supply after realizing how often she was recommending products to clients.

Brewer hadn't always planned on staying in Mid-Missouri — in fact, she often talked about leaving as soon as the opportunity arose, she said. But after staying in the area to attend Lincoln University, she said she now feels that it's home.

"I really don't want to leave," Brewer said. "I've traveled to different states but I still feel, like sometimes I cross the bridge and it's like 'OK, I'm home.'"

Brewer emphasized her goal as a salon owner is to ensure everyone, and all types of hair, is welcome in her business.

"We accept everyone," Brewer said. "We can fix anything."

Even the decor is meant to help clients feel more at home, Brewer said, noting she's tried to incorporate more rustic features as she sets up the store.

Brewer said she also is currently looking for additional stylists to join her team, especially those who can braid. She said she would love to see more stylists who can do braiding in the area and has even contemplated teaching others the skill to help increase the options available in Mid-Missouri.

For more information on Essence Salon, to book an appointment or inquire about hiring, contact the business at 573-338-2719 of follow them on Facebook at Facebook.com/napihair.gal.94.

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