MEMBERS OF THE LITTLE CUPCAKE DIVAS who starred in the fashion show during “Fashion Under The Bridge,” July 7. (Photo by Dayna Delgado)
by Rob Taylor Jr., Courier Staff Writer
When Tenel Dorsey, owner of Dreamz Hair Salon in Homestead, thought of the best way to celebrate 16 years in business, she thought of cupcakes.
Yes, the Little Cupcake Divas, the youth group of fashion models that got a chance to shine in front of members of the Homestead community at the “Fashion Under The Bridge” event that was held, yes, underneath the Homestead Grays Bridge.
Dorsey also thought of addressing the audience via microphone—not to talk about her success, but to give out certificates of appreciation to longtime supporters and customers, like Sharifa Dominique Green.
“I have a real passion for people in our community, it’s just my thing,” Dorsey told the New Pittsburgh Courier, July 16. “I’ve always been that type of person.”
“Fashion Under The Bridge,” held July 7, had the local vendors, food and refreshments, and for the youth, food for thought. Devantae Butler, of Reaching New Dreams and Recognizing Talents, lined the youth up in a straight-line formation, and showed them how many people and other tribulations will try to knock them off their course to success. He helped them to understand that no matter what, you must “stay your course.”
The girls who were part of the Cupcake Divas displayed their sense of fashion and runway prowess during the fashion show part of the event. They were cheered by the many onlookers.
There were also youth dance groups and singers.
“Everything about it was very positive for the kids and encouraging,” said Mary Nesby, a Homestead Borough Councilmember, “because a lot of times, kids don’t see themselves as models.”
Nesby said Dorsey’s team of stylists and designers had the youth looking and feeling their best.
“It was about the community for her,” Nesby said of Dorsey. “She was not going to have it any other way.”
Dorsey describes herself as a community-oriented person, “since I was singing in church” at Bethel AME in the Hill District, where she was raised.
She told the Courier that her faith in God has only strengthened as an adult and mother of two. “I pray about things, and with the things that I’ve been through, He just works in a way that makes me believe.”
Her journey took her to Pittsburgh CAPA and Steel Valley high schools, a pregnancy at an early age, working to open her first businesses, Go Divas Hair Salon and Ms. Diva’s Supplies on the North Side in 2001-02, and then striking gold with Dreamz Hair Salon at 100 E. 8th Ave. in Homestead in 2003.
Nesby, whose love for Homestead is unapologetically palpable, has known Dorsey for years and calls her and the salon a “valuable part” of Homestead.
“She does a prom giveaway, a Christmas event,” Nesby said of Dorsey. “She even gives youth cancer patients a makeover. She goes to them, she and her team. It says that she’s human, she’s empathetic, she’s definitely a leader.”
Dorsey, a licensed cosmetologist, leads a team of 10 stylists and barbers (and a fitness instructor) inside—and outside—the physical building’s walls. Dreamz is a regular participant of Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Back To School celebration, in which youth were styled with the latest hair designs free of charge at Pittsburgh Faison Elementary School in Homewood last August. They’ll be setting up shop again for the upcoming PPS event at Pittsburgh Obama on Aug. 19.
Dorsey was honored by Soul Pitt Media in 2014 for being a Black woman in business in Pittsburgh for more than a decade, and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has presented Dorsey with an award for outstanding work in the community.
Now, at the prime-time age of 40, Dorsey said she’s only looking to soar higher along her life’s journey. But she knows people are watching her—nieces, nephews, even young adults looking to start their own business.
Her advice to everyone? “I started out when there was no social media, there were no ‘shares,’ none of that. You have to still understand that who you are and what you believe in needs to reflect on how you operate every day.”
Dreamz Hair Salon currently has five students from Learn & Earn, a six-week summer employment program for teens and young adults in the Pittsburgh region. It’s all in Dorsey’s effort to be a role model for the next generation of entrepreneurs.
“I take on a responsibility,” Dorsey told the Courier. “People just ‘say’ they want to change the world. I really want to change it, and I feel that I am.”
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