For as long as she can remember, Michelle Harris has had a passion for cosmetology and helping others. She turned that passion into two thriving businesses based in the North Nashville area with plans for expansion. Founded in 2000, The Hair & Nail Gallery is a professional hair and nail care studio with a waitlist. Scentsible Oils, an aromatherapy and natural body care company, supply the studio with all-natural, alcohol-free essential oils and fragrances. Between the two, Michelle Harris provides an immersive experience in self-care for her clients.

But this isn’t Michelle’s first venture into entrepreneurship. She founded Nailz on Wheelz, a mobile nail salon servicing nursing homes and disadvantaged neighborhoods with manicures and pedicures. Michelle later expanded her business, including hairstylists, and rebranded as The Hair & Nail Gallery, trading in her wheels for a brick-and-mortar location.

“Growing up in Nashville, my strong southern roots always pushed me to listen and look to confirmation from God. I’ve always tried to remain humble and work in my own lane to grow. I never try to copy anyone else,” she shares.

Michelle would later reunite with a childhood friend who sold essential oils. Through this relationship, she rediscovered her love of fine fragrances and her next business idea.

“I used to love going to the African Street Festival and buying different kinds of essential oils as a child. That’s when I first started developing an appreciation for beautiful, confidence-building scents. My friend showed me all the tricks of the trade, helping me secure holistic ingredients and teaching me how to mix my own lotions and body butters.”

Starting with just twenty oils, Michelle began marketing her products to family and friends, taking baskets of oils to her children’s cheerleading and baseball games to sell on the sidelines. It wasn’t long before she realized she was on to something. She launched Sensible Oils in 2010 but quickly realized she needed help with digital marketing to generate sales.

One of her customers suggested she take classes at the NBIC. Michelle connected with Angela Crane Jones and enrolled in Foundations, a 12-week program offered in partnership with Operation Hope on a quarterly basis. Mr. Harvey, the class instructor, introduced Michelle to digital marketing basics and advised her on best practices to transition her businesses into a new commercial space.

“The Foundations class help me understand the importance of networking and cultivating banking relationships. I realized there was so much more that I needed to learn. Through the NBIC, I finally gained the confidence to sell a rental property I owned and buy my first commercial building. I’ve been in the NBIC Mighty Oak Pathway program for two years, and I haven’t looked back.”

Michelle also completed the Groundwork program where she learned social media best practices, including how to create Facebook and Instagram ads. “The teachers were phenomenal.”  Groundwork is held twice a year with small cohorts to facilitate deep learning.

In just six months, Michelle used the capital she obtained from the sale of the rental property as a down payment on a commercial building located at 3921 Clarksville Pike.

Today, The Hair & Nail Gallery boasts a full-time staff and a busy schedule, making for few dull moments around the shop. Michelle looks forward to expanding, adding a third stylist and additional space for stylist booth rentals.

Looking ahead, Michelle looks to pursue woman and minority-owned business certifications in hopes of being awarded contracts with government agencies and hotel chains to supply hotel rooms with travel soaps and pocket lotions and commissary items to prisoners.

Michelle Harris has achieved numerous milestones during her twenty years in business, and she has done so while serving as a Nashville firefighter. After a nine-year stint, she recently retired from the Nashville Fire Department and plans to devote more time and resources to finding new ways to give back.

“I’ve always tried to couple my ambition with philanthropy and think outside the box. Where others may shy away from opportunity, I like to imagine what could be and use the resources I have to make it happen. Most importantly, I want to set a strong example for my children. I’ve always told them to work hard and pursue their dreams. If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

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Abigail DaSilva
Abigail DaSilva is the marketing coordinator at NBIC, channeling her passion and creativity to support the organization’s mission of leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs. A proud graduate of Tennessee State University, Abigail holds a degree in design, which fuels her artistic sensibilities and impeccable eye for aesthetics. Before joining NBIC, Abigail embarked on her own entrepreneurial journey alongside her brother, where she spearheaded the sales and marketing efforts of their own venture. This experience honed her skills in strategic promotion, customer engagement, and marketing media. Abigail has played a crucial role in the company, transforming their media marketing strategies, specifically towards a more video-driven approach. Recognizing the power of visual storytelling, she has created compelling content and innovative campaigns that have amplified NBIC’s reach and engagement, strengthening their online presence and impact. Outside of her professional endeavors, Abigail is an avid art buff, frequently visiting museums and exploring immersive experiences that combine technology and creativity. She also has a deep love for travel, shopping, and anything that allows her to utilize her creative mind. With her unwavering commitment and broad range of experience, Abigail is a valuable asset to NBIC. She remains eager to push boundaries, elevate engagement, and empower entrepreneurs through her exceptional marketing expertise.
Anne-Marie Tanner
Anne-Marie Tanner is the Programs Coordinator at NBIC. With a Master’s degree in strategic marketing from Midway University and a Bachelor’s degree in design from University of Kentucky, she brings a unique blend of business experience and creativity to her work. Prior to joining NBIC in March of 2023, Anne-Marie worked as a small business and startup consultant, where she gained valuable experience in guiding entrepreneurs through the challenges and opportunities of launching and growing their businesses. Her expertise in strategic planning and her ability to quickly grasp new concepts makes her a strong asset to the NBIC team. As the Programs Coordinator at NBIC, Anne-Marie manages multiple components, including Foundations, E-Myth, Framework, and Groundwork. Anne-Marie values collaboration and strives to align her work with the vision and expectations of her colleagues. Beyond her professional career, Anne-Marie has a wide range of hobbies and passions. She is an accomplished Olympic weight-lifter. Additionally, with her husband, she started a medical clinic in Martin, TN, a brewery and events center in Paris, TN, and an airbnb property. Their goal is not only to build successful businesses, but also to provide economic stability and job opportunities to as many people as possible. With her extensive background in business, her entrepreneurial spirit, and her commitment to personal growth, Anne-Marie Tanner is an extremely valuable asset to NBIC. Her diverse skill set and positive mindset make her a catalyst for success, both for herself and the new businesses she assists.
Saturnie Antoine
Saturnie Antoine has been a part of NBIC since November 2021, serving as the R.I.S.E. UP Program Manager. She holds a Bachelor’s degree and has obtained a professional certification in coaching skills. With a diverse background in corporate work spanning over 15 years, Saturnie has worked in various sectors. As the R.I.S.E. UP Program Manager, Saturnie oversees the entire program. Her responsibilities include structuring the curriculum, sourcing speakers, and organizing the launch campaign. Additionally, Saturnie provides personalized professional coaching to the program participants, offering guidance and support to help them scale their businesses to $1 million plus level. Since the commencement of the program in March 2023, under Saturnie’s leadership, R.I.S.E. UP has witnessed numerous accomplishments and successes. Additionally, the program’s focus on emotional intelligence has helped participants navigate internal challenges and overcome obstacles inhibiting their growth. Outside of work, Saturnie values personal time spent with her family and loved ones. Her true passion lies in her role as a professional coach, where she finds fulfillment in assisting women on their journey towards personal and professional growth. Saturnie’s commitment to her clients and her extensive experience, coupled with her excellent coaching skills, allows her to provide comprehensive support to program participants, enabling them to achieve their goals and reach new heights. Under Saturnie’s leadership, the R.I.S.E. UP Program continues to flourish and make a lasting impact on the lives of female entrepreneurs.
Leroy Cunningham
Leroy Cunningham currently occupies the role of Community and Capacity Building Manager at NBIC. He holds a major degree in Business Administration from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, along with minor degrees in Accounting and Economics. Leroy’s prior engagement with business development consulting brings great strength to the NBIC team. He has worked at three of the largest market capitalization companies in the world – Emerson Electric, General Electric, and Berkshire Hathaway. In his current role as the Community and Capacity Building Manager at NBIC, Leroy wears many hats. One of his primary objectives at NBIC is to increase the number of small minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses qualified to undertake contracts from prime contractors and government entities. By fostering relationships with community partners and engaging with prime contractors and government entities, Leroy works tirelessly to bridge the gap and provide opportunities for these businesses to flourish. Additionally, Leroy dedicates his time to consulting with business owners, providing them with valuable insights and guidance. By helping businesses at their current stage and empowering them to reach their goals, Leroy greatly contributes to the growth and success of NBIC’s clients. Outside of work, Leroy indulges in his love for reading, sports, and travel. With his vast knowledge, dedication, and passion for community empowerment, Leroy is committed to making a meaningful impact at NBIC. His wealth of certifications and global business experience lends a unique perspective and expertise to NBIC’s initiatives, which will undoubtedly drive the organization forward.
Octavia Wilson-Simmons
Octavia Wilson-Simmons is the Special Project Coordinator at NBIC. With a background as a tank storage broker, Octavia acted as a vital liaison between storage terminals and cargo owners, facilitating contracts for the transportation and storage of products. Prior to NBIC, she also worked as a chemical operator at a chemical company, further enhancing her expertise in the industry. Joining NBIC in early 2022, Octavia initially served as an assistant to Angela before transitioning to her current position as a Special Project Coordinator. In this role, Octavia plays a crucial part in various projects, including MNAA and Elevate 615. She also provides invaluable support to the team, assisting with grants and streamlining processes to ensure efficient collaboration and coordination. Outside of her professional endeavors, Octavia is extremely family-oriented and cherishes family outings and spending quality time with her loved ones. Octavia is also a dedicated DIY enthusiast and seeks to immerse herself in various projects. Octavia embraces the opportunity to collaborate with the NBIC team, support Angela, and contribute to the company’s mission. Having witnessed the growth of businesses firsthand gives Octavia special insight into the entrepreneurial world and the hard work that goes into operating and expanding your business. With her extensive background in the oil industry and her unwavering dedication to assisting others, Octavia continues to make a positive impact within NBIC, among her peers, and within the entrepreneurial community as a whole.