Spotlight on Lenora Devreax of Strutables Nails and Hair Salon

| August 14, 2013
(Photo: James Redmond)

Lenora Devreax (left) works on Jeanie’s nails. (Photo: James Redmond)

Jeanie shows off her new nails

Jeanie shows off her new nails

UP CLOSE WITH JEANIE by Jeanie Summerville

Whatz up, babies?

In this thing called life, on our journey of love, I have a confession to share with you because I’m guilty! And, I’m guilty in the first degree for not patronizing our African American licensed nail technicians who do acrylic nails. But, please forgive me, because I’ve done something about it and after you read this spotlight, if you’re guilty too, please walk this walk with me by giving them a chance, in the name of love.

Now I’m going to share with you how my nail awakening happened:

Several weeks ago I started noticing a sign that was displayed at Jerrell’s Barber Shop that’s located at 2104 S. Clinton St., that stated Full Nail Set for $12 at Strutables Nail and Hair Salon that’s located right next door and I thought wow, that‘s fantastic! Because that means that there’s, at least one African American in there who knows how to apply acrylic nails and I also thought, what a fantastic price because normally they start at $18.

At this particular time, I knew I needed a nail fill bad because I’ve always liked acrylic put over my real nails so they don’t break as often and I’ve had it done for more than five years. But anyway, my nails were looking a mess and you can see what I mean by my before photo that’s shown. But, the reason that I had not taken the time out to get them done was because I had so many things to do that had deadlines. Then one day my brain was like, “Okay Jeanie, it’s time for you to go and get your nails done.” And so, I headed straight towards my usual nail tech location.

Then my heart was like, “Stop the car! What’s up with that? You’ve been seeing that sign by Jerrell’s for weeks and you’re not going to support them?” That’s when it dawned on me, that I too was guilty of not supporting a black business and I felt totally ashamed of myself. I felt ashamed because I realized that I could have supported some African Americans nail techs for those past five years and who knows, maybe I could have helped them to stay in business longer. I also thought, “Wow I helped take food out of their mouths by giving it to somebody else.” Then, I thought about all of the other African Americans who we’re doing the same thing because I’d see them while waiting my turn and sometimes we’d pack the places. So now I’m really feeling bad.

Then I thought a little deeper about it and realized that we as African Americans are their target market, as well as, their target market for black hair care products and in knowing this, we choose to keep their bellies fed, a roof over their heads and etc., when we know that we have African Americans businesses who have the same things available to us and that’s not right nor fair. We must help our community and help our community businesses and in turn our community businesses give back to the community in some form, so in turn, I’m taking steps to do something about it!

So, I got on the phone and called Jerrell and confessed my guilt and to please forgive me and how I wanted to right my wrong. He was very happy and excited to hear me say those words and that he’d be more than happy to comply with my wishes which were, I want the opportunity to have your nail technician do my nails and also give me a pedicure because I need to know, feel and understand that she can do just as good a job, or better, than non-African American people because it‘s all about trust. Then I said, afterward I’m going to bring it to the people in my column to share my experience and have photo’s taken so that they may know, feel and understand that what I say is true.

After that, I called photographer, James Redmond, shared with him what was going on and he was more than happy to be a part of this love and beauty. Next, I called the president of the MLK Club, Benny Edwards, and shared with him what’s going to happen because I wanted him in attendance too since I know that Dr. King would have been proud. And, he too was more than happy to be a part of this love and beauty. So babies, now it’s on! And, all we want you to do is sit back, relax and enjoy. Or, stand and jump and shout if you want to! You can do that, because we’re gonna take you there and this is what they have to say:

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. I’m Bennie Edwards the president of the Martin Luther King Club and as a citizen of Fort Wayne, I think that it’s about time that we started to patronize black businesses by helping each other to help ourselves and that’s one of the things that we’ve been talking about for a long time. Black businesses are in need of our support. An article came out in Frost several weeks ago, in reference to people supporting their community and supporting businesses that support black businesses. I think it’s about time we get to doing that.

“I’m also the president of the American Legion Riders and a Fort Wayne police officer and we’re certainly in favor of supporting black businesses in this community. If we don’t support our community, who will?” 

“Hello Frost readers. I’m Jerrell Davenport and I’m the owner of Jerrell’s Barber Shop and Strutables Nail and Hair Salon. I appreciate this agenda of getting the message out about supporting one another in the community and neighborhood and I do believe that it’s necessary. I don’t know where we got divided on supporting one another’s businesses and things like that but I do believe it’s high time that we do that and maybe spend more money in our communities instead of taking money outside of our community. Also, as business owners I think we have a responsibility to our community to provide good services and good business that’s worthy of community support as well.”

Now, I bring to you Lenora so she can share her experiences and what sets her apart from the non-African American nail techs, and at the end of this spotlight, I’m going to share with you some more African Americans who know how to apply acrylic nails:

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. My name is Lenora Devreax and I’m a licensed master manicurist. I feel so happy being in this spotlight because it makes me feel like somebody finally cares and that somebody finally see’s what’s going on in our community and is trying to fix it and that thrills me. That means yes! I have another chance. 

“I first became interested in being a manicurist about 15 to 20 years ago when I was working at a factory and wanted to have some professional photos taken of myself, so I went and got my hair done. Then I wanted to get my nails done and went to a non-African American and that was the absolute worst experience that I’d ever been through before in my life! And, while they were hurting me, they were speaking in their language and I didn’t know what they were saying and laughing about. It could have been about me and how they were enjoying seeing me go through this pain and once they were done, the pain in my nail beds lasted about a week.

“But, from that experience, I was like, there’s got to be a way to do this, so it doesn’t hurt. I know that people say, beauty is pain but as church folks would say, ‘the devil is a lie!’ So I told myself, that would never happen to me again and I went to beauty school so I could learn how to do my own nails. But once I got started, I realized, ‘Wait a minute, I’m paying all of this money to go to school, so I can do my own nails, I’m going to make it my life’s occupation,’ and that’s what I did. And in the process, I did figure out a way to do it, so it doesn’t hurt and mine doesn’t hurt. 

“Later, I furthered educated myself by attending a lot of nail shows in Atlanta, Chicago and Indianapolis and I learned the proper way to apply acrylic nails and mine stay on better than theirs. Because what I do versus what they do is this: I do a mini manicure with my full sets for two reasons—one, it helps the product to stay on the nails longer and, two, I get more product on the nails further back so that your fill lasts weeks longer. Which means, instead of having your fill line show within two weeks with them, it takes three to four weeks with mine and that saves you money. Another thing that sets me apart from the non-African American nail techs is sanitation. In doing nails and toes, sanitation is the most important thing since I don’t want any cross contamination. Meaning, if they’re doing someone’s nails that have some type of an infection, you’re going to get it too because they don’t sanitize their implements properly, but you won’t have that problem with me.

“And, I became a master manicurist when I went back to school and got my additional hours which included spa pedicures and I do some fantastic pedicures. When I’m done with your feet, your whole body will feel revived and rejuvenated. And, on Sundays and Mondays, the two days that are not regular business hours, we have available for you, spa parties. A spa party is when you and a bunch of females get together for some pampering which includes facials, messages, manicures, pedicures and a light brunch or lunch. All you have to do is call me at (260) 456-1721 and I’ll let you know about the different packages that we have available for your enjoyment experience.

“Our regular operating hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays, so when you’re ready for a fantastic full set or fill, pedicure, manicure or spa party just call me and I’ll take care of you, even if you’re diabetic. I enjoy working at Strutables and so does our cosmetologist, Tameka Brown, because it’s a good area for doing business, we have a very clean environment, we‘re very client friendly and we have an awesome atmosphere.”

Now, I took it upon myself to interview someone who was getting a pedicure from Lenora and this is what she has to say:

“Hello, Frost, my name is Della Lawson and I love Lenora’s manicures and pedicures because it’s outstanding. I just moved here to Fort Wayne but I’ve been getting manicures and pedicures for years and hers are the best by far. I simply love everything that she does and when I go home, I feel revived and refreshed and I highly recommend her.”

Now check this out, the other African Americans whom I know of, who do acrylic nails and fills in the city includes Towanda Townes-Parker and Celestine Hagler of Optimistic’s located at 3415 Warsaw St., (260) 456-6610 and for Hair Care and Beauty Products see Joyce Spence of Celebrity Beauty Boutique 3818 Illinois Road (260) 755-1875.

Now in closing I say, Jerrell’s wants you to know he needs some more barbers and beauticians. And, I thank photographer James Redmond and MLK President Benny Edwards for being there for us in the name of love. Lenora, you did a fantastic job and my nails look and feel great, so do my feet. I’m so proud of you because you did do a better job than they and you even messaged my hands and forearms and my experience was a wonderful one. My plea to everybody, please give them all a chance in the name of love because they need us. So until next week, you’ve been Up Close with Jeanie. Bye, bye babies.

P.S. If you would like The Spotlight shined upon you or someone that you know, all in the name of love, just send me an e-mail to I’d love to hear from ya.


This article originally appeared in the Aug. 7 print edition.

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