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Two Black woman owned businesses celebrate grand openings on Madison’s east side

Though they’ve been open for almost six months, two Black woman-owned businesses celebrated their move to prominent storefronts with ribbon cutting ceremonies Sunday.

Simple Cuts Plus and Smiling Coast Braiding both cut the ribbons to open their spaces on the ground floor of the Ella’s Apartments building, the former location of the iconic Ella’s Deli on East Washington Avenue. About 100 supporters, family and friends attended the event, which was organized by the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce.

Aundrea Booker and Kiuna Montgomery opened Simple Cuts in a much smaller space at the corner of East Washington and Sixth Street. When that building was sold, they needed to look for a new home, and found a large empty space up the road.

“There was nothing here but empty space, and God just put everything together for us,” Booker said. “We just walked into the space, and this is what came of it.”

Montgomery said the increased space has allowed the pair to bring on more stylists and serve more clients – something the new location has helped deliver.

“The visibility has helped out a lot. People have been able to notice that we’re here,” Montgomery said.

Booker stressed that Simple Cuts is prepared to serve all hair types —

Both said communication is the key to a long-lasting partnership.

“It’s like marriage. That gets a bad rap, but there’s good marriages and there’s good partnerships,” Montgomery said. “You just have to have the same tools that make a good marriage. Communication. Literally, keep listening to each other. Caring for each other. No jealousy and envy. You know, just as a team.”

Booker agreed.

“We work because we are a team,” she said. “We work together as a team, we communicate as a team. We operate as a team.”

“We balance each other out,” Montgomery said.

Jimbi Mboob, center. Photo by Robert Chappell.

Meanwhile, next door, Jimbi Mboob has her first storefront location after braiding hair in homes – hers and those of her clients – for 20 years.

“I’ve been wanting to get a shop forever,” she said, but was inhibited by all the obstacles that stand in the way of any small business – with the additional burden of needing a state license to braid hair.

She credits State Rep. Shelia Stubbs and the state legislature for removing that requirement with legislation passed in 2021.

“I really appreciate her,” Mboob said.

She said she’s been able to provide part-time work for young women to braid natural hair in a professional environment. 

“I see it going way bigger than this. Get more product in and I can have more chairs, and just help people make part time money,” she said.