From adversity, Houston company have built a successful business dedicated to natural hair

uncle funky's daughter

Ray and Tonya Reed


Sometimes misfortune can turn into the most naturally glorious type of good fortune.

Husband and wife entrepreneurs Ray and Tonya Reed were working in the Houston energy industry when giant Enron collapsed, taking a number of other companies with it.

The Reeds, along with thousands of others, lost their jobs. Lesser souls might have panicked, but not these two dreamers and doers.

In considering their options, the two knew one thing for sure: they never wanted to be at the mercy of another company; they wanted to control their own destiny. “We wanted to be in charge of our own business,” Tonya says.

And so Uncle Funky’s Daughter was born. The 8-year-old salon and boutique in Houston is a seriously fun and, yes, funky destination for women who want cuts, twist-outs, extensions and other natural styles.

“We don’t offer any chemical services. We don’t use curling or flat irons,” says Tonya. “Natural is everything.”

Such an approach eight years ago was trailblazing, Reed says. “There weren’t any professional, natural salons in Houston,” at that time, she says.

When searching for a new venture, turning to the hair business was an easy call for Tonya. She’d enjoyed working with hair her whole life, and had wanted to attend cosmetology school straight out of high school. But her mom convinced her to go to college and get a degree.

The need to control her own destiny was the right reason for Tonya to pursue her dream of doing hair, she says. The time was now right to go to cosmetology school, and she was able to find a program that specialized in natural hair care.

Her business degree and experience, combined with her cosmetology license, and Ray’s added business acumen and retail experience, set the pair up for instant success in the salon business.

“We’ve been busy from the minute we opened our doors,” she says.

In another unusual twist, the flagship store also sells women’s accessories and clothing. “You can get your hair done, pick out a new outfit, and be ready for a night on the town, all in one place!” says Tonya.

And where did they get that super-fun name? “My dad was a funky, fun guy. He had a great style,” she said. “My cousins called him ‘Uncle Funky’,” she says.

“My husband — he’s pretty creative—thought of ‘Uncle Funky’s Daughter’. We wanted the name to be synonymous with the spirit of our company,” she says.

The company recently introduced a line of hair care products that have proven to be very poplar. “They’re selling fantastically. We ship all over the world,” she says. “Word of mouth has done us phenomenally well.”

Houston TV personality Deborah Duncan—a rare TV-news “natural”—loved the salon and products so much, she crafted a segment on her show around Uncle Funky’s.

And Uncle Funky’s Daughter has recently expanded to a second store a couple doors down where they sell natural body and skin care and offer spa services.

We would all do well to learn from the lesson of Tonya and Ray Reed—two amazing entrepreneurs— from adversity can come great things.


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