Houston small business owner feels unfairly locked out of her salon

- A Houston small business owner has found herself locked out of her hair salon and in the middle of a brutal battle to keep her company open.

For ten years, Tameka Fletcher did hair in her Third Ward home, dreaming of having her own shop before actually getting it. Now Fletcher is right back where she started.

”It's been stressful, depressing, just kind of my worst nightmare come to life,” says Fletcher, who's been locked out of her hair salon, Natural Resources, on Fannin in Midtown since April 18, 2018.

”It's devastating.  The loss of income for a small business even for a day can shut your business down," she says.

So she opened up shop, once again, in her home.

Fletcher says when a letter was posted on her salon door saying she was locked out for non-payment, she quickly produced the more than $9,000 rent check she paid to the building owner but she remained locked out.

She took the landlord to court where the owner said she was being thrown out for misusing the space.

”I think there was a cultural breakdown or maybe he didn’t understand that this is very common for us and it’s not uncommon for salons, especially now, it's actually very trendy to find different types of spaces to host events and that's what we were doing," she says.  

Fletcher has leased the space for her salon for two years.  Before moving to the Fannin location, Natural Resources was located in Rice Village for five years.

The landlord for the property on Fannin told Fletcher to stop hosting evening yoga classes and other gatherings that didn't pertain to hair.  She says she complied. Then, "We had a hair and fashion show.  We thought as long as it was related to the business, was my understanding that those events would be allowed.”

In court, one judge ruled she was locked out unlawfully.  A second dismissed her case, denying her re-entry into the building, leaving fifteen people unemployed.  

"I was devastated. One of my jobs and my responsibility to my staff and the people I work with is to make sure when they come to work, they have a place to work," Fletcher says. 

This is a time Fletcher should be celebrating because beauty store giant Ulta just put the Houston business owner's Earth's Nectar hair products in their stores.  Products born more than a decade ago in the very kitchen of the home that is once again her salon.  "It's bittersweet," she says. 

An attorney for David Kline Properties says Fletcher was in violation of her lease and says a judge agreed.

“My whole goal, at the end of the day, was to try to protect the people I work with and I felt helpless.  Even going through the legal process and the legal system I still felt like my voice wasn’t heard and I had no rights and that I’m literally being pushed out of the space illegally,” Fletcher says. 

Fletcher fears this battle with her business isn't over.  She says the owner has threatened to sue her for the remaining five years left on the original contract.

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