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‘A royal experience’

Brown to open nail salon next to braids and twists shop

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Tianna Brown, onwer of RoyalT Nails, poses in front of her shop. The business is currently under renovation, but is expected to open in the coming weeks. Brown, a Fort Dodge native, has located her shop next to Braids, Dreads and Twists Shop By Carress. Carress Bjorklund, the owner of that business, went to school with Brown in Fort Dodge. The two attended elementary, middle and high school together.

Two friends who attended Fort Dodge schools together growing up will soon have connecting businesses that they hope will give customers a full salon and spa experience.

Tianna Brown plans to open RoyalT Nails next to Braids, Dreads and Twists Shop by Carress owned by Carress Bjorklund. The business is located at 2224 Second Ave. N.

“We have a passion for business and people,” said Brown, a 2005 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate. “Fort Dodge is our home and we take pride in our home.”

Brown earned her cosmotology license from La’ James International College and her associates degree in business from Iowa Central Community College.

Early on in her college journey, Brown found that she particularly enjoyed nail art.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Carress Bjorklund, owner of Braids, Dreads and Twists Shop By Carress, poses in her shop. Bjorklund opened her business one year ago on Juneteenth. The holiday is of particular importance to her as it celebrates the freedom of African Americans from slavery in the U.S.

“When I was going to La’James I started getting my nails done around the same time and I the nail art just wasn’t there,” Brown said. “I would show them pictures and it was a ‘no.’ I thought I could do this, so I took some extra classes at La’James and from then on I focused on nails.”

Brown said she enjoys the artistic side to designing a nail.

“I’ve always been into art,” she said. “Into fine detail. So shaping the nail. I also like to make people feel good about themselves. That’s a big part of it for me. I really focus on design.”

Some of the nails she designs include rhinestones or other types of jewelry.

“She’s the bling queen,” Bjorklund said.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Carress Bjorklund, owner of Braids, Dreads and Twists Shop By Carress, left, stands next to Tianna Brown, owner of RoyalT Nails. The two Fort Dodgers have neighboring businesses. Bjorklund and Brown went to elementary, middle and high school together in Fort Dodge.

Brown previously worked at Smurlz, located downtown, for about a year. When it closed, she went to work for Wonder Nails for five years.

She was let go from Wonder Nails in January of 2021. At that time, she decided to pursue the opportunity of opening her own business.

“Carress got ahold of me and here we are,” Brown said. “It was a fast transition.”

At RoyalT, Brown plans to offer pedicures, manicures, shellac, acrylic, dip powder and facial waxing.

Complimentary beverages like wine, soda or water, will also be available.

“I want people to have a royal experience without breaking their budget,” Brown said. “A place they can come and relax and not worry about being rushed out or that their service won’t be the same as the time before. Consistency.”

“I take pride in each and every one of my clients,” Brown added.

The south side of the building where RoyalT Nails will be located is currently under renovation. Brown hopes to be ready to open in about a month. She said she will provide updates on her Facebook page “RoyalT Nails.”

She has known Bjorklund since third grade when she moved from Livermore to Fort Dodge.

“We both went to Duncombe, Fair Oaks and Phillips up to high school,” Brown said.

Bjorklund is looking forward to having connecting businesses.

“We both have big personalities,” Bjorklund said. “She’s a firecracker. She has to be.”

The two plan to offer package deals for the two businesses.

One year ago today Bjorklund opened Braids, Dreads and Twists Shop By Carress. The date of Juneteenth is significant to her.

“In my heart, it told me that that’s what day I wanted to open my business,” Bjorklund said. “To me it is a celebration of freedom and I do take pride in freedom because we are finally being acknowledged to be free for who we are and embrace our ethnicity.”

Hair has always been a special part of the African American culture, according to Bjorklund.

African-style braiding dates back thousands of years, Bjorklund said.

“People would get their hair braided and twisted and locked to identify who they are,” she said. “As time went on, some people would buy slaves and shave their heads because they wouldn’t be identified by the tribe.

“That’s how we identify culturally. Sometimes it’s used as a marital status or if you’re rich or not rich.”

Bjorklund said she wants people to feel good about their hair.

“I take pride in who I am,” she said. “My job is to educate people on culture and educate people on ethnicity and educate people on their hair so more people can be comfortable with wearing their natural hair.

“Our culture, a lot of us use extensions to make us feel better about ourselves for being discriminated against for who we are naturally. So being able to educate others and my clients on how to maintain their hair so they won’t need to use extensions (is important).”

She’s proud to operate her own business.

“In this year, this salon has become 100 percent black owned in less than a year,” she said. “I have renovated this part of the salon. I started my own hair care line in that time.

“One of the biggest things I’m proud of is doing natural, anything that does not require chemical, that’s what I specialize in. With the services here, I specialize in natural hair growth and protective styles. It’s a chemical-free salon.”

She has planted a garden on the property in recent times.

“We started building a garden in the back and front so I can use the stuff from the garden to make some of my hair care products,” Bjorklund said. “That garden represents my grandmother (Mary Lee Mosley). She loved gardens and planting gardens.”

Mosley also inspired Bjorklund to style hair.

Mosley would leave the city just to get her hair done the way she wanted.

“I practiced on my own hair repeatedly,” Bjorklund said. “Watching my grandmother motivated me to practice on myself and never stop.”

Bjorklund offers the following styles at her shop: box braids, Ghana braids, lemonade braids, microbraids, cornrows, crochet, dreads, retwist dreads and others. She said the average appointment lasts two to three hours, but can be longer. Prices vary on hair length and time of service.

She also offers hot oil treatments for hair and different natural hair masks.

“My goal is to make people feel good to make sure we help them have a healthy scalp and have an experience where they feel welcome,” Bjorklund said.

Both Brown and Bjorklund are happy to do business in their hometown.

“I’ve always said I like to travel and come back home,” Brown said. “I feel comfortable here. I’ve made a lot of connections here. It’s home.”

Bjorklund believes she can be successful in Fort Dodge.

“One thing I love is no matter where I would fail, if I would fail in life I know I can survive here because there’s enough support for everyone to be successful,” Bjorklund said. “It’s a family-oriented town.

“You can succeed here. It’s possible to live your dreams and our town does strive on service and hospitality. This is home. It’s home to a lot of people. We are proud of that. We want to give back to our community and owning our own businesses in town that we were born and raised.”

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