Beyoncé and Solange Knowles grew up at the salon. Miss Tina’s salon, to be exact, where their mother, Tina Knowles-Lawson, fostered an uplifting community among her 24 stylists. “I think that’s so important because as women, we are taught very early to be competitive,” Knowles-Lawson says on the latest episode of The Carlos Watson Show, a new late-night-style talk show hosted by OZY co-founder and CEO Carlos Watson.
The entrepreneur and fashion designer reveals an unlikely journey as she opens up about her businesses, her daughters, politics and the pandemic. With her family originally hailing from Louisiana, Knowles-Lawson spent her childhood in Galveston, Texas, but it was the metropolis of Houston that taught her she had to dream big to be big.
It was there that she opened a hair salon in her early 30s, prioritizing customer comfort and promptness and modeling a more efficient style of entrepreneurship in Black communities. “It was a very professional atmosphere and there was no gossip, nothing but uplifting women,” Knowles-Lawson says.
If I screw everything else up in my life, I’m going to do this right.
Tina Knowles-Lawson on motherhood
Still, Knowles-Lawson acknowledges that she was “a young rebellious woman, and had a mouth on me, and got into trouble a lot.” What changed her? Motherhood. After Beyoncé was born, Miss Tina decided: “If I screw everything else up in my life, I’m going to do this right.”
That meant everything from making sure her daughters were exposed to the uplifting salon community to defying cultural norms by taking them to counseling at an early age. “Solange loved it because she was always very outspoken, you know?” Knowles-Lawson says. “And Beyoncé didn’t like it at all, because she didn’t like to talk to someone. But it just made her sensitive and Solange sensitive to her. And they have been close ever since.”
Lately, Knowles-Lawson has led a COVID-19 relief drive for her community in Houston, sourcing masks, gloves, gift cards for groceries and vitamins as well as testing. And she’s become a voting rights advocate, penning a letter to congressional leaders to push for absentee voting funds and organizing schoolchildren to register new voters.
“Especially in Black communities because we’ve been unheard for so long, and we’re just so systematically abused every day and we’re hardened to it and just think, ‘Oh, that’s the way it is,'” Knowles-Lawson says. “We don’t connect the dots when it comes to voting.”