After 30 years in the territories, Gail Dyer was growing tired of constantly shipping personal care products north, stocking up when she travelled south and concocting hair cocktails with combinations of products available in town.
As a Black woman in Yellowknife, Dyer said her hair requires products providing extra moisture – something she hasn’t been able to find in the decades since she moved from Ontario.
Though friends and family told Dyer she was crazy for opening a business amid a global pandemic, beauty cosmetic and personal care shop Nubian Soul Sista has been in operation since November 2020.
“I just thought, it’s time,” she said. “No one has ever opened a store like this (in the North) – no one has even attempted it. So I thought, let’s just do this and see how it goes.”
Nubian Soul Sista carries shampoos, conditioners, beard oil, hair treatment, soaps and lotions, all with moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil, aloe vera, cocoa and shea butter.
While the business started as a means of filling a gap for her own hair care needs, Dyer said Nubian Soul Sista products can be used for men, women and children of any group.
While she continues to work full time in administration at Stanton Territorial Hospital, her son Brandin staffs the shop during the day.
Nubian Soul Sista is located on 49 Street in the same building occupied by Blunt YK hair salon and Piercings by Haylee J. The location is perfect for foot traffic, Dyer said. Especially as temperatures climb, she said downtown workers can stop by during their breaks and return to their office without hassle.
Before merchandise hits their shelves, Dyer said it is properly researched and tested to ensure they can vouch for it honestly. She and Brandin test their shipments so they can support shoppers and make suggestions for customers to get best results.
Nubian Soul Sista imports products from Quebec, Ontario and from around the United States. While the business operates just the physical shop and Facebook page for now, Dyer said a new website is in the works. Once operational, the shop will service online orders from Nunavut and the Yukon as well.
Four months in, Dyer is already turning small profits. After paying her rent, buying products and covering shipping fees – all paid for out of pocket – Dyer is able to put $200-300 back in her pocket.
As it’s still early days, she’s optimistic business will only continue to grow. When Black advocacy group BACup North profiled the business as part of their Black History Month campaign, Dyer said that was one initiative that got Yellowknifers’ attention.
Eventually, Dyer hopes to make Nubian Soul Sista her full-time job.
Although there are days where she works through doubts, Dyer said she’s proud to manage a business she has created from scratch to benefit herself and her community.
“I’ve lived in all three territories and none have products like these,” she said.