The owner of JBee Beauty, Janice Butcher, has worked toward this dream for decades. Photo courtesy of Alyssa Sciarrone.

While taking a walk through New Paltz and venturing off Main Street you pass some well known spots like Stewart’s Shops and the Salvation Army. But if you walk a little further, turn the corner and you will find a new gem in town. JBee Beauty Supply at 1-3 Henry W. Dubois Drive building 2 is a new Black, woman-owned business selling hair and beauty products: the first of its kind in New Paltz. 

When you walk inside the store, the purple walls and shelves fully stocked with any products you could need will catch your eye. Next, you will be greeted by the lovely owner and founder of JBee Beauty, Janice Butcher. She is an alumnus of SUNY New Paltz, attending the university in the early 1980s and a long-time resident of the town since 1990. From the time she was a student, starting in 1984, it became her dream to own a beauty store, after dealing with the struggle of maintaining her hair while attending college. 

“There was no place to get your hair braided, no place to purchase the hair, no place to purchase the products,” Butcher said. “So, I would have to go back to 125th Street, back to the city, every time I wanted a product.” 

This nearly 40 year long dream finally came to fruition on Feb. 2 as JBee Beauty Supply was officially opened for business. The name pays homage to her days as a student at New Paltz, where her nickname was J.B., short for Janice Butcher.

To make a dream come true takes hard work, and Butcher has been putting in the work for decades, and kickstarted her dream with a workshop she took through her previous job at the Department of Labor, titled. “Dreams, Goals, and Actions.” She then began establishing her company Brains & Beauty in September 2015, the parent company of JBee Beauty. 

Butcher owes a lot of her strength in continuing her dream to God. “In 2015 God gave me a vision, and he gave me the look of the beauty supply store and in the back, the gold rod and the curtains, [the vision] was to have women come in and be healed from being broken.” Since then, it has been a gradual, upward journey towards what is now Butcher’s reality. 

JBee Beauty carries a variety of brands like Taliah Waajid, Mielle and Crème of Nature. For hair bundles and wigs, she carries brands such as Vivica A. Fox. Around the store you can also pick up hair accessories, wig caps, bonnets, brushes, rollers and makeup with a wide range of shades. 

The store does more for the town than simply providing a service and fulfilling the much-needed niche. “I know the presence of the store is for people to be empowered. And the motto for the store is ‘Be Strong, Be Beautiful, Be You,’” Butcher said. For individuals of color in and around New Paltz, JBee Beauty is a form of representation and empowerment. 

Angelina Bell, a fourth-year theater arts major, said, “We’ve needed a store like this for such a long time in New Paltz, because I feel like people don’t realize there’s a thriving Black community on campus, off campus, just all throughout the town of New Paltz. I think seeing a business like this that represents marginalized communities is inspiring.” 

Working alongside Butcher in the shared space is cosmetologist Johnah Incardona. Based out of Stella Bella Beauty in Kingston, she is now taking clients in the new space in New Paltz, giving Black women a close-to-home option for getting their hair done. This is especially convenient for students that may not have access to a car or the means to travel far out of town for this service. For more information about Incardona’s business, she can be found on Instagram @stellabellahairandbeauty and on her website

As JBee Beauty Supply continues to grow and develop, so do Butcher’s dreams. “My goal, eventually, is to help cancer patients when their hair is falling out to find affordable wigs that they can actually use that will not itch and scratch,” said Butler. The main message behind her business endeavors with JBee Beauty Supply and Brains & Beauty is one of self-love, self-acceptance and being given the tools to do so. Whether those tools are physical products or the encouragement and empowerment of a community, Butcher aims to supply it. 

Bell, now a customer of JBee Beauty, said, “I hope it inspires more Black people to take up more space in town because that’s okay. And I feel like sometimes we’re led to believe that it’s not okay, or we just need to like, deal with the resources that we have.”

In the month since opening, the business has picked up. At the start, Butcher would see a customer a day, but as more and more people have found out about the store through word of mouth and through the Instagram account @jbeebeautysupply things are looking up. 

Butcher’s story of achieving her dream is one filled with ups and downs as an independent first-time business owner. However, she made it happen and now wants to remind everyone, “Through life’s challenges, just continue to keep the faith. Do not give up on your dream. If you were given a dream it was meant to happen.”

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