Lisha Lou LLC of Polk County
Alisha Hinton has found a way to combine her love of three things – hair care, teaching and community – with the launch of Lisha Lou LLC.
“As a teacher previous to now, I had students who experienced different things in their lives with families and hair care,” Hinton said. “Some of their hair wasn’t done all of the time, and I wanted to find a way to help. I branched my business out beyond doing services.”
Having provided African American braiding services at her home up until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, she realized that she wanted to grow into a salon space. In February 2022, she reached out to the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at University of South Florida (USF), based at the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, for help nailing down her business plan and projections.
She was immediately paired with Greg Manning, a business consultant with previous business ownership experience of his own in the Lakeland market. Together they worked on building her business plan and he connected Hinton with additional consultants to have her website reviewed and answer questions regarding Florida business certification.
“His working in the community and his set up of a business helped me kind of understand how I wanted to set up a business of my own and understand the business structure as it related to doing business the right way,” Hinton said.
Since working with Manning and the Florida SBDC at USF, Hinton has opened a brick-and-mortar location, and secured opportunities that allow her to help the community.
“My business has grown since working with the Florida SBDC at USF,” she said. “Currently, I have a program with the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, where I go in and I mentor women and I teach them how to become entrepreneurs as well as braiders to help them when they get out of jail to have employment work for themselves and be confident. I also go into the high schools locally and I mentor girls to help them be confident in themselves and chase their dreams like I have.”
Hinton plans to continue utilizing the Florida SBDC at USF as she continues building what has already turned into an impactful business and encourages others to do the same.
“In the future, I plan on using the Florida SBDC at USF, by reaching out in the event that I see more growth. I do see that happening for me,” Hinton said. “Business has been doing wonderful, but I want to make sure that if I have questions or if I need more resources, that I’m connected to the right people. It’s been great thus far, and I want to continue that journey if need be. I didn’t know what I didn’t know until I got connected and being connected helps so much and it keeps you from having to run into dead ends all the time when people have the resources to help you.”