Despite losing her salon in a fire, this stylist grew back bigger with a million-dollar hair care brand

BY Preta Peace Namasaba June 17, 2024 7:18 AM EDT

Building a business, or a relationship—anything—is a slow and laborious task. It requires tremendous hard work, grit, dedication, and determination. Ruin, on the other hand, takes a fleeting second. So what do you do when your life’s work and dreams are destroyed in a single day?

In 2013, Jesseca Harris-Dupart’s Kaleidoscope Hair Studio in New Orleans burned to the ground within six months of opening. The salon was a culmination of a lifelong dream and over a decade’s worth of hustle as a freelance stylist. Harris-Dupart was not defeated. Instead of giving up, she viewed that unfortunate incident as a mere hurdle on her journey to the ultimate triumph. She went back to the drawing board, rebuilt her salon, and launched her own hair product line. A decade later, Harris-Dupart owns the entire business plaza where her first salon went up in flames.

“Not even six months after branching out on my own and opening a Kaleidoscope hair studio, we experienced a fire that took 90% of everything I had built down in a matter of minutes. It took months to get things back straight. I’m sure you could imagine how defeating that must have felt. That experience bought out a fire from deep inside. I felt like I had to overcome it; there were so many people watching and depending on me. I felt the responsibility of being an example of a true leader,” Jesseca-Dupart said about how she moved past the tragedy of her salon burning down.

Harris-Dupart has always loved doing hair. As a child, she went from styling her father’s hair to becoming the go-to stylist for girls on the block. Despite her natural talent, her parents had other plans for her future. They wanted her to be a conventional professional – a lawyer or doctor –  and preferred she focus solely on her studies. Harris-Dupart had to sneak her friends into her house and bedroom so that she could style their hair.

The road to becoming a professional hair stylist was littered with challenges. Harris-Dupart became a teen mom three times and had to leave her parents’ home at 17. These hurdles gave her clarity and drive to realize her dream of becoming a licensed cosmetologist. She persevered, graduating from cosmetology school in 2000 and obtaining her license a year later. Harris-Dupart began doing hair out of her home and soon became popular for creative, unique, and colorful styles.

She invested her savings into launching Kaleidoscope Hair Studio to cater to her growing clientele. The salon was an immediate success, booming and filled with people within six months. Unfortunately, Harris-Dupart’s victory was short-lived. One of her stylists mistakenly sparked a fire started by a faulty piece of curling iron and burned down the entire business. With the support of her community and supporters, Harris-Dupart moved into a fully furnished salon. A year after the catastrophic fire, she was back in business.

In addition to reopening her salon, Harris-Dupart launched her own line of hair care products called Kaleidoscope Hair Products. She designed the products using ethical and innovative product formulas that provide maximum results for all hair types and textures to help her clients solve their hair woes. Initially, Harris-Dupart sold the products to only her clients but expanded her reach when she realized there was an online market for them. She successfully increased visibility of the business by leveraging social media, disruptive marketing, and entertainment.

Her first viral campaign, dubbed Edge Police, involved Harris-Dupart and her friends going around the city slicking down edges in party city cop uniforms. The campaign would eventually generate millions of dollars. Harris-Dupart continued working as a hairstylist while her products were grossing six figures a month. In 2017, she retired from being a stylist to focus on growing her hair care line. Today, Kaleidoscope is a multi-million dollar business distributed in major retailers like Target and Walmart.

Harris-Dupart recently announced her ownership of the entire business plaza where she opened her first salon. “The Miracle Plaza” currently leases its space to a variety of businesses. Like a phoenix rising from the fire, Harris-Dupart has reinvented herself and emerged triumphant.

“Hope my story of defying the odds can let someone know ANYTHING is possible. Far from where I’m goin’ but way further from where I started. Do it, do it scared, do it against the odds you’re facing,” Harris-Dupart wrote on Instagram.