Asayah’s Closet: “For The Woman Who Likes to Stand Out”Dec 19, 2020 08:00AM ● By Kassidy Garland
Asayah’s Closet sits on the newly renovated corner of the Maplewood Mall in Northeast Philly. As soon as you walk in, you're greeted with a bright and welcoming space. Against the clean, modern walls, racks are filled with colorful dresses, two piece sets, and jewelry with traditional African vibes. In addition to the beautiful, traditional pieces, sit a number of modern styles.
Behind the boutique and up the stairs, lies a salon. Here, clients come to have their natural hair styled, colored, and maintained. This business serves its community well, but to fully understand the business, you must first understand the incredible woman behind it all.
Candace Smith was born and raised in West Philadelphia. From an early age, it was clear that creativity was going to be an enormous part of her life. She took an interest in dance and theater and spent most of her time practicing and performing. She studied at the University of Arts in Philadelphia and was a member of Philadanco. Although Smith has always been good with styling hair, a friend and fellow dancer taught her about starting, caring for and styling locs.
First Lady Smith met her husband, now a pastor at New Joy Missionary Baptist Church, during a performance they both appeared in. The two have been married for 20 years, and have three teenage children. For the first few years of their marriage, her husband, Pastor Ed Smith, studied ministry, and she volunteered for their church.
Over the last few years, the couple traveled to other countries like Ghana and South Africa, and found inspiration. It was during one of these trips that Smith found the perfect model for her business; a boutique that offered traditional clothing and a salon for styling natural hair in the back. Candace took her idea and ran with it. Moving from her basement, she set up Asayah’s Closet more than 6.5 years ago. In February, she will be celebrating 7 years at her location.
When asked about her favorite aspect of her business, Candace stated, “I know my neighbors and they know me.” Smith prides herself on being a member of the community, and she makes a point to create friendships and relationships with everyone. In her boutique, she even houses many of her friends’ and clients’ handmade pieces at no commission pricing, as a way of supporting other people in her community.
Candace is always busy as she has her hands in so many projects. As a mother, loctician, First Lady, and small business owner, she even makes her own hair and scalp products. When asked about her busy schedule, she said “I love what I do. It’s hard to say no sometimes.” Smith was asked what advice she would give to other women looking to start their own small business, “Expect to go hard in the beginning, so you can coast later on. No sleep ‘till Brooklyn.”
If you’re looking for last minute holiday gifts “for the woman who likes to stand out” in your life, consider shopping local; you can visit Asayah’s Closet Monday through Friday 10 am -6 pm and Saturdays from 10 am -1 pm. Appointments at the salon are available starting in February, so call soon to set yours up. Follow her on social media to see new boutique items and hairstyles.
Candace Smith / Asayah Loc Nurturing & Styling