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Tarot & Tea

8019 Agnes
Detroit, Michigan 48214

Nefertiti Harris

By Tunde Wey
April 1, 2013

Personal evolution is about peeling away the layers that conceal a person, revealing that which has always been there. It is the effort to get back to the start, the beginning; embracing the idea of who you truly are. Nefertiti Harris is about to begin something that has always been with her.

“I have been a spiritualist all of my life,” says Nefertiti (her preferred appellative), owner of the soon to open Tarot & Tea in West Village. She describes Tarot & Tea as a place that “provides spiritual counsel using divination tools such as tarots cards, palmistry, intuitive and tea leaf readings to bring clarity, healing, and balance to individuals.”

This healing and balance she speaks of is really self-referential. Nefertiti is not really beginning a new career with Tarot & Tea; instead she is finally admitting to herself what she has known for forever. This admission is the beginning of a new phase in her life.
Nefertiti is the proprietor of Textures by Nefertiti, a full-service natural hair salon and spa. A native of Chicago, Nefertiti opened Textures in 2003 as part of The Spiral Collective, a shared space for creative businesswomen in Midtown. Six years later, with her business expanding, she relocated a block south to her current location. Textures is soothing; figures of seated Buddhas sanguinely sit among colored crystals as the subtle scent of incense hangs over the hum of salon conversation. This blend of sensory provocateurs blesses the space with a relaxed breath. The clientele, dreadlocked and reclined in a chair, are at various stages of pampering, with Nefertiti’s slim figure calmly presiding over them as she works her slender fingers through their hair.
For a while Nefertiti was content to do this: caring and tending to natural hair. However, every so often she was compelled to talk to her client’s about more than just hair care. “I have always done healing work; it’s just that I was doing tangible healing work, working with women and their hair. Many times I would have experiences with women where I would share spiritual insight while doing their hair.”
Nefertiti had enough of these experiences to warrant an important realization; it was time for her to be what she always was – a spiritual healer.
“It got to a point in my life when I couldn’t ignore it and I just stepped out of the fear … I was too concerned with what other people thought. As soon as I let go of that, the space that I wanted came to me. Now I’m looking for the means to get the startup money and I know that’s going to come also.”
These are the particular set of fortuitous events that brought Tarot & Tea together.
A friend and fellow salon owner in West Village had called Nefertiti to tell her she was closing her business. She encouraged Nefertiti to investigate a lease at the location. Nefertiti – who had often driven down the quiet, stately Agnes Street with the idea of opening up a business there enchanting her commute – was immediately interested. She decided this was a sign to finally open up her spiritual tearoom. She picked up her cell phone and called the realtor.
Almost a world away in spirit (if not in distance) were Michael Forsyth, with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) Revolve Program, Jackie Bejma, of LAND Inc., a Warren Connor Development Coalition Initiative, and Brian Hurttienne, the Villages CDC Executive Director. The DEGC, along with Berjma and Hurttienne, had committed to investing in the business development of the Villages neighborhood. Supported by other foundation grants, they worked to create a plan to fund four new retail businesses in two ground floor retail spaces on Agnes Street in West Village. They put out a call for business plans, and the bids came fast and furious.

“I called the number on the window and I talked to the realtor. She told the owner what I wanted to do and the owner was excited about it. From there I was introduced to Michael Forsyth. They had a competition for businesses that wanted to be on that block; we had to pitch our plans for one of the (available) spaces. They called me back and told me that my particular idea was accepted for the space!”
The arrangement, worked out between Nefertiti and the funding consortium led by the DEGC, LAND Inc. and The Villages, provided Nefertiti a fully-renovated, almost move-in-ready space.  Nefertiti was only responsible for the cosmetic work of painting, lighting and furnishing what is to be Tarot & Tea.
As almost a final acknowledgement of the propitiousness of her choice, Nefertiti held a pop-up event in October to introduce the Tarot & Tea business concept to the neighborhood; it was attended by over 200 people.
Nefertiti will open Tarot & Tea in May this year employing local residents and featuring local textile and tea makers.
Though her journey has certainly not been one without its own challenges, Nefertiti’s story is less about the obstacles than the confidence that governs her actions. Speaking about some misconceptions regarding spiritual healing, she says, “You create your own future. The spiritual counselor gives the client an idea of their capabilities and what direction they should be going in. The spiritual counselor validates the person’s destiny and thoughts, what’s already there, and shares with them the particular obstacles they might come across so they can make informed choices that lead to a better life outcome.”
Again, it might not be farfetched to conclude Nefertiti is speaking of herself … and judging from her previous experiences, she only has to listen to succeed.

Photograph by Marvin Shaouni Photography.

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