UNPLUGGED: So let’s get started. Please tell us what is Girl & Guy Republic as well as Art of Republic?
RHONDA: Girl & Guy Republic is a salon. This entire space began as a salon. Eventually, we started hosting events in this space. Initially, I called the events Art of Republic. The next thing I knew, the events grew in popularity. So I decided to make Art of Republic its own entity. Now Girl & Guy Republic and Art of Republic have their own identities. Now Art of Republic is an art space. It’s designed to showcase emerging artists. We’ve hosted private parties and fashion shows to name a few. Therefore, any creative mind or dreamer is welcomed to use our facilities.
UNPLUGGED: So tell us the secret behind the names of your business.
RHONDA: Girl & Guy Republic is a name that represents inclusivity. I wanted to welcome everyone and I think the simplicity of the name says it all. Republic is important because I wanted it to mean unity, togetherness, and community. The “Art” is important because there is so much of it out here that needs to be exposed and celebrated. It’s simple, catch and fresh. That’s why went with it and never looked back.
UNPLUGGED: So why did you choose the Short North District of Columbus to set up your headquarters?
RHONDA: I like the open mindedness of the area. Arts. Galleries. Clothing. And the mentality, it’s just different. It just fits.
UNPLUGGED: So how challenging is it being a single woman in business managing the type of endeavors and projects you handle week to week?
RHONDA: It’s difficult! (smiling and chuckling). Balancing it all is no joke! I have to get my kids every day. I have homework and projects. When the salon business is over, the art space work begins. It’s a true challenge but I push forward and get it done. That’s what you do when your business depends on you to hold it together.
UNPLUGGED: There are all kinds of ways to manage people. So how do you manage your team?
RHONDA: Well, we have Bobby Couch who is our creative director. Bobby assists in making sure the events we have flow effortlessly. I have another stylist named is Marie. She is an Aveda instructor too.
UNPLUGGED: With everything you do, what’s the secret stuff that drives you to excel?
RHONDA: (With a big smile) My kids. Yea, my kids (nodding her head). Eventually, I want to leave them with something. I desire to get them started early being exposed to so much the world has to offer. I don’t want them to have to work so hard but at the same time I want them to have an appreciation for hard work. My parents didn’t kick start my career so I want to do that for my kids. So I’m really doing this for my children. My oldest daughter will be 23 soon and I’m encouraging her to go to school for business so she can help run this one day.
UNPLUGGED: Do you feel your children are benefitting from the diversity your businesses brings to clients?
RHONDA: I think so. I’ve brought them done here for some events and they’re absolutely amazed. Consequently, the questions follow. The more they ask questions, the more I know the exposure has truly piqued their interest. They’re learning to accept different perspectives and different ideas. They also are coming into their own personalities and the way they view life through their own lenses. So I think having this place really helps them.
UNPLUGGED: What is a challenge you find yourself frequently addressing and resolving?
RHONDA: Honestly, I would have to say it’s me. My business is waiting on me. I’m not as consistent as I would like to be. I give my attention to so many things at one time that things fall through the crack unfortunately. My team isn’t big enough so I give a piece of myself to everything. Everything and everyone are waiting on me and I feel that’s the challenge I face frequently. Some days I’m better than others but being the best version of myself is easy to say but so hard to achieve consistently.
UNPLUGGED: What would you say to other individuals who are in the same dilemma as you?
RHONDA: Allow people to help you! People offer help to me and assistance comes in so many different forms. Often times is not big help I need but it’s the small things that matter. An example is someone folded my towels for me. They have no idea how much that helped me for the day. Hey, we’re women. We know we’re strong. We do everything with little to no praise but we still need help too. So allowing people to help will make your journey so much easier and recognizing when help arrives will make you a better person for it.
UNPLUGGED: Do you think successful business women like yourself find themselves naturally guarded against receiving help? If yes, why?
RHONDA: Yes! But it’s not for the reasons people think. I believe women like myself find ourselves guarded against accepting help is because our business is our baby! No one will take care of your baby like you do. It’s not that we think people are sinister (though they exist). It’s just we are concerned that the job won’t get done right if we allow someone else to do it which in turn means we have to double back and do the same job again. So we just skip the mistakes and do it ourselves right and once.
UNPLUGGED: Do you think women will get over that challenge?
RHONDA: (exhaling while like towards the ceiling) Oh gosh, I don’t think we ever will get over it. You know what, (clapping her hands together and perking up) I’m a boss during the day but at the end of the day, I just wanted to be babied. I just want to be cared for. And even then, it’s still hard to let the guard down because you have to trust someone. And that’s the question we ask. Who can I trust while I’m vulnerable? We know how to be the boss but we don’t know how to let people in and sometimes our relationships fail because of that. But I don’t know if that will change. Perhaps, we stand a chance for genuine happiness if we can find someone who will accept us (women) as we are.