Meet Deanna Teasley, hair care extraordinaire and owner of Lawtiwa (pronounced like brow tea jaw) Barbersalon in Burien, WA. Lawtiwa Barbersalon is a Native and Black-owned business that specializes in all types of hair from all ages, ethnicities, and gender. When you walk into the quirky salon, you’ll see Deanna’s family photos adorning the walls. Deanna’s father’s side of the family were sharecroppers and descendants of slaves from Tennessee, while her mom’s side is Indigenous from the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho.
“I feel very fortunate to have their strength that has been passed down to me, and in some small way, have this little place to showcase them posthumously — that all their hard work and efforts went to a good place and is not lost on me,” Deanna said. “I hope they are proud of me/us.”
Read on to learn more about Deanna and her salon in this week’s Business Spotlight Q&A.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s something your customers may not know about you or your business?
Probably the biggest thing is the name “lawtiwa” — it’s the Nez Perce word for friend. I chose the name because the hope is that you’re friends with the people you work with, friends with your neighbors, friends with your community. I knew I wanted [my business] to represent community, and at the time I didn’t really know what that was going to look like. Everyone knew it was going to be my shop, but I didn’t want it to have my name on it. But I also wanted it to represent my family, my culture, and that’s why I named it that.
What’s your favorite part about Burien and why?
My favorite part about Burien is how diverse it is. There’s lots of young families moving here who I think are open-minded and really culturally diverse. There are lots of great restaurants. I have a son who’s still in school, and there’s a lot great family events. Discover Burien is incredibly helpful in that regard and directing people to different businesses. It feels like a small town even though we’re within 15 minutes from downtown Seattle. I really enjoy living here and working here and I never ever thought I would live this far from the city and like it as much as I do.
Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLikeItMatters?
Before I had my own business, I always thought, “Wow, they have their own business. They’ve made it.” What I didn’t realize was that it’s a lot of work. It takes a lot of money just to get started. You really are involved in every aspect of the business. It’s not just about me being behind the chair and doing the physical haircuts or perms or colors — there’s bookkeeping, ordering, cleaning the toilets, taking out the garbage. So when somebody comes to patronize your business, it means a lot.