When Nadia Al-Makhadmih went on maternity leave, she didn’t know then that she wouldn’t be going back.
But after some time away from the beauty supply company she worked for, she realized that she could use the experience she gained in her three-and-a-half years there to open her own business. As she said, she was basically running the shop anyway even though she was being paid as a cashier.
That thought led her and her husband Moe, a trained physical therapist and U.S. Army veteran, to open Iberia Hair and Beauty Supply on S. Hopkins Street, in the old Ackal Drug Store building just off West Admiral Doyle Drive. Now in its third week of operation, the shop will hold an official grand opening sometime in August.
That grand opening, Al-Makhadmih said, is not only to celebrate the opening of the store but also to celebrate the neighborhood. She grew up on Hopkins Street, spending some of her formative years at the Brother’s gas station and store across the street from her new business when her parents ran it.
Like some other area merchants, she said she is hoping to see the area turn a corner, to become the vibrant community it once was.
The Daily Iberian sat down with Al-Makhadmih to talk about her new venture and hopes for its future.
First, what was the reaction when you told people you locating on Hopkins Street?
Most people asked me, “Why are you putting a store on Hopkins?” For me, it’s natural. I grew up here. I am good to the people here, and they are good to me. I tell people all the time, “Y’all are a praying community.” And people are so happy to see us here.
How did you decide on beauty supply?
I had been working at Infinite Beauty and taught myself the business. Even the people who had been at Infinite were surprised at how fast I picked it up. I had more than three years of experience there, plus experience in my parents’ business since I was 7 years old. So I thought, “Why go back when I can open my own business?”
How has the neighborhood reaction been so far?
It feels good when people come in and say thank you for opening here. Everyone is so grateful. It used to be they would have to drive or get a taxi to go across town. They’d want to buy something that costs a dollar and have to spend $10 to get there. Now they come here and spend $11 buying what they need. Sometimes people will come in and just pick up something for $1 or so just to show support for us.
What’s on the agenda for the grand opening?
When we do the grand opening next month, we’re going to do a big block party. We’ll have music and open it up to the people in the neighborhood. I want to bring Hopkins back to life like when my mother was working at Brother’s. People were always coming by to see what she was cooking that day. That’s the kind of neighborhood we want.