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Pressed Roots is giving North Texas women with textured hair the care that’s hard to find

This story, originally published in The Dallas Morning News, is reprinted as part of a collaborative partnership between The Dallas Morning News and Texas Metro News. The partnership seeks to boost coverage of Dallas’ communities of color, particularly in southern Dallas.

The salon’s founder opens her newest location Friday at Plano’s Shops at Legacy.

Piersten Gaines
Piersten Gaines, founder and CEO of Pressed Roots, reimagined the traditional salon experience by creating an inclusive community for women with textured hair. Her second location opens Friday in Plano.(Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)

By Alexandra Skores

For women in search of a new hairdo, it’s always a daunting task.

That’s especially true for women of color with textured hair, who’ve been known to travel hours to a stylist they trust not to damage their hair.

Piersten Gaines learned this at a young age. The California native went to a professional hair salon in high school and walked out with her hair so badly damaged it started to fall out.

“It was coming out in chunks over like a span of two weeks,” Gaines said. “I’d wake up and there’d be hair on my pillow. When I was in geometry class, this guy, who was a friend of mine, was like, ‘Piersten, your hair is all over my desk.’ ”

Gaines knew she couldn’t trust just anyone to do her hair — a reality that hit her again while she was studying for her MBA at Harvard University.

So Gaines started her own styling business called Pressed Roots, rolling it out initially as a series of pop-up shops in Boston in 2018. Fresh out of school, she began trying out the concept of a blowout salon for textured hair in different cities, eventually making her way to Dallas, where she has family.

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“One of the big things I noticed about Dallas is that a lot of the girls who had textured hair wore their hair naturally,” Gaines said. “They didn’t have any options.”

The 33-year-old entrepreneur’s first Pressed Roots silk blowout bar on Singleton Boulevard in Dallas opened March 14, 2020 — just as the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down. By May, she was able to reopen at reduced capacity and she counted every business day as a success.

Her customers’ social media promotion helped spread the word about Pressed Roots’ capabilities.

“We didn’t spend any money on marketing or anything,” Gaines said. “People would come in and take pictures and a lot of people would just pick it up because they’d put it on their Instagram.”

After the first salon’s success, Gaines was able to secure a seed round of venture capital to open up three more stores, including one debuting Friday in Plano at the Shops at Legacy. Pressed Roots now brings in over $1 million in annual revenue.

Gaines will also open an Arlington location before Mother’s Day and wants to expand to Houston. She said she sees opportunities in highly diverse Texas to help clients with textured hair.

“There are a lot of services that exist today that weren’t really built with women of color in mind,” she said.

A large part of Gaines’ business is training, she said, since stylists don’t learn different textured hair methods in cosmetology school. She employs 50 stylists in Dallas and will hire 50 more in each of her next three locations.

Pressed Roots customers are greeted by a stylist trained in the salon’s “Pressed Roots method,” which includes everything from how they hold the brush to how long a service takes. Gaines said stylists are also trained to consult with customers on curl type, pattern, porosity and more.

She’s also built her business model with stylists in mind. She said stylists who show interest in management can move up.

“The goal is to really have an opportunity for career growth and potential ownership, if they show dedication, work ethic and a commitment to the brand,” Gaines said.

While she grows her business with 10 to 15 salons in Texas, Gaines has plans to branch out to other markets. For now, she said she hopes to help women like herself gain access to the hair care they deserve.

“Challenge people,” Gaines said. “When you walk in somewhere and a makeup color isn’t offering your skin tone, ask somebody why. The people who have created things for so long haven’t had to think about it. It’s just important to start being vocal and challenging the status quo.”

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