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New home for Black-owned beauty supply shop

Nearing its third anniversary, Arkay, one of few Black-owned beauty supply stores in Charlotte, is moving to a new address that the owner says will be great for business. 

Arkay recently signed a 61-month lease at JW Clay Station. The owner says the area will offer more foot traffic to the store. 

Though the store is the same size as their current location on North Tryon, owner Danita Watson said the lease at the new location is cheaper than her current agreement.

Watson has changed locations twice before but says this one will be “prime” for business. 

The birth of Arkay

Arkay Beauty Supply started in 2020.

Watson told QCity Metro the idea to open ArKay started with two key desires: be engaged in the community and leave something behind for her three daughters.

When trying to think of a way to connect to the community and leave behind a “legacy,” Watson kept returning to one thing: hair. She ultimately settled on opening a Black hair care store. 

A 2022 article by AfroTech found that only 5% of beauty supply stores are Black-owned. 

“This is our industry,” Watson said, adding that she wanted to “knock down barriers.” 

Moving around

With its move to JW Clay Station, Arkay will continue to call the University area home. Its previous two stores were on University City Boulevard and Terraces at University Place. 

The first location on University City Boulevard dealt with its fair share of problems, Watson said. One problem, she noted, arose after a nightclub opened next door. Watson said the environment changed, and some of her staff — and customers —  expressed that they felt less safe.

Following this, a roof leak led to rain inside the building that Watson said caused $80,000 worth of product damage. After this, Watson moved to Arkay’s current location at Terraces at University Place. 

However, Watson said that the move caused a decrease in business. “It’s been a struggle, but I’m determined to stay in it,” Watson said. 

The drop in foot traffic caused Watson to begin searching for a new location for Arkay once again. Watson found what she was looking for nearby the current location.

There was a vacant, city-owned space available at the JW Clay Station parking deck. Watson called the city about the space on May 1, signed the lease on May 11, and on May 22 the lease was approved. 

“This is going to be pivotal for the expansion that I would like to see fit in Charlotte,” Watson said. 

Looking forward

Watson wanted to find a way to give back to the community when she first conceptualized her business — and she has not forgotten that vision. 

Watson said she wants to use Arkay’s new location, which is right on the light rail and next to a Black hair salon, to develop work-study opportunities for Johnson C. Smith University students.

In the future, Watson said that she wants to expand to the west side and back to her home town of New Jersrey.

She told QCity Metro that three would be enough.

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