West Bloomfield Township resident Dezi Santiago, 37, is the host and co-creator of the TV show “Ask Anything With Dezi” on The Word Network and founder of Sway’d Style Lounge in Birmingham and Virtuoso Home Healthcare. She tells us about her style, career and more.
By Rachel Schostak
Photography by Allison Farrand
1. How did you get started in the beauty industry? I always say that I’m self taught. A Barbie head, comb and some ponytail holders started it all. Growing up, I spent a lot of time in hair salons and mainly learned the craft by watching and assisting.
To pay my way through college, I started coloring and styling hair on campus at Hampton University. After college, I did an apprenticeship with a world-renowned stylist in Atlanta. At that time, I was also working in fashion doing personal shopping and styling. I’ve always been my friends’ unofficial stylist before they go anywhere and had an affinity for making things more beautiful.
2. What inspired you to start Sway’d Style Lounge? A season came in my life when I wanted to create more than just a look for my clients; I wanted to create an atmosphere where they could just let their hair down and leave the rest to me. Upon moving back to Detroit, I was able to establish an amazing clientele. The clients themselves truly inspired me to create a destination for the multi-hyphenate woman. Learning the many facets of the working mother, executive wife, young entrepreneur, among other types of curated evolving women, left me with no choice but to give them something that exceeded the usual salon — then came the birth of Sway’d Style Lounge!
The style lounge encompasses a concierge as well as an environment that allows clients to stay on task while indulging in self-care. For example, a client who needs a car wash or a dry cleaner pickup can have all of this done during the duration of their services. Being a single mother and serial entrepreneur myself, I fully understand the true value of time and the need for self-care and getting things done. So, why not do it all at the same time?
3. You are jack of many trades. How have you and your businesses evolved? There have been some growing pains, phases and lessons along the way. Within the process, I have grown so much alongside my businesses. There is definitely a direct parallel between my personal growth and business growth. Reflecting back, I’m still in awe of how far both have come, especially in the areas of patience, innovation and discipline. Businesses are more than dreams come true, they are experiments that challenge your hypothesis, leaps of faith and sacrifices made profitable.
4. What do you love most about your job and being a business owner? People always ask me the question “Do you love what you do?” and my answer is always the same. More than loving what I do, I love who I do it for. Sway’d is a whole vibe. It’s hard not to fall in love with it. The staff. The clients. The atmosphere. The music…the Champagne. Most of all I am dedicated to exemplifying a model of professionalism and inclusion that empowers those around me. Owning a business is cool, but being a boss truly means you are in it for the profit of others and not just yourself.
5. Who inspires you in the beauty industry? Ted Gibson, Chaz Dean and local stylist Ming, an iconic stylist in the city of Detroit, as well as a lot of the young, up-and-coming artists who have taken the art of styling mixed with the audacity of entrepreneurship and taken things to the next level. I’m working to keep up!
6. Who inspires you in the business world? I have an amazing mentor, S Smith. She has truly blazed a trail for young minority women in home health care, (working on) a rehabilitation center for people with disabilities. She reminds me that it’s not about the acknowledgement but the difference you make! Another is Suzanne Shank, who gave me my first internship out of college at Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co. Having the opportunity to work at an all female firm changed my perspective of business early on. She is a true pioneer in the movement of female empowerment. There’s many more. My clients are my most valuable mentors. They fill me up with such wisdom, hearing their stories and watching their victories, I can run a list to cover this whole page — I’m surrounded by nothing but business success and strong feminine energy.
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7. What do you love most about our community? I am a native Detroiter, and what I love most about my community is the grit and gang of Detroit. We have come through so much as a city, and we support each other through the highs and lows. No matter where I travel there seems to always be someone representing Detroit. We are everywhere — Detroit is the true unsung hero!
Now on to style
9. Head-to-toe outfit details:
Accessories: Evil eye necklace from Styling the Wardrobe.
10. Three words to describe your style? Tomboy chic, high low, eclectic.
11. You’re never fully dressed without _____? Earrings. I must have them on at all times.
12. Your current “must-have” item? Anything Sacai or the Jacquemus Croc “Le Chiquito” clutch.
13. Your most cherished item in your wardrobe/closet? My blacked out matte python Chanel boy bag.
14. Do you have a style icon? Yes, Julia Lang. I admire the way she makes tomboy chic sexy.
15. Who or what inspires your style? Truly my personality is reflected in what I wear. My day-to-day life inspires me to dress comfortably, but the industry causes me to be fashionable.