SIOUX CITY -- A woman's identity, personality and self-confidence is often represented by the hair on her head.
"That's especially true for African-American women," explained Veronica Zenk. "Our hair is our crowning achievement."
In order to tap into an underrepresented marketplace, Zenk has opened Sew in Style, a 222 W. Seventh St. business that specializes in hair weaves, wigs and accessories.
A Sioux City native, Zenk previously needed to travel as far away as Omaha and Kansas City for quality weaves and wigs.
"Not only that but it was difficult to purchase top-of-the-line conditioners and hair care products locally," she said. "African-American hair is harder and kinkier than other types of hair. That's why having quality product is so important."
In addition, Zenk has a sizable selection of imposter "designer" handbags featuring names like Gucci and Louis Vuitton, among others.
"We're catering to the ladies who know all about style," she said with a smile.
Mostly, Sew in Style is all about hair.
Whether a woman wants a fashionable wig, hair extension or a lace front weave (a hairpiece that has a natural lace system to cover a hairline), Zenk has an option.
"Back in day, wigs looked like wigs," she remarked. "They were stiff and artificial."
Zenk said today's wigs -- which are made with either real or synthetic hair -- are much more natural and user-friendly.
And what about the ladies who want hair that comes in all the colors of the rainbow? Well, Zenk has pieces that run the gamut -- red, pink, purple, blue, green, you name it.
"Men have it easier than the ladies," she said. "Men can keep their hair short or, even, shave it off entirely and be stylish. Women need to work it a bit when it comes to style. Plus we like variety."
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This means Zenk doesn't see her clientele as being limited to African-American women.
"It doesn't matter who you are or what color skin you have, woman want to look good," she said. "Colorful hair extensions are not a fad. It is now considered an accessory no different than a piece of jewelry."
If Zenk sounds like a fashion authority, it's because she is one.
"I know these products because I use these products," she explained with a laugh.
Zenk, who worked for Sioux Honey Association Co-Op for more than 21 years, had always wanted to be her own boss.
"It was something that had been in the back of my mind since I was a little girl," she explained. "There came a point where I asked myself what the next chapter of my life would be. It turned out to be Sew in Style."
Zenk even knew what part of town she wanted for her business.
"I grew up on Sioux City's north side but spent many summer days with my Grandma T on the west side," she said. "Even though Grandma T has passed on, I'm sure she'd be proud of me."
Zenk worked with the City of Sioux City to purchase the building, which was home to a former machine shop.
Given a forgivable loan, she must stay in the building for at least five years. Since she's spent 10 months remodeling the building to the specifics of her business, she's staying put.
"I love the way things turned out," Zenk said. "It's exactly the way I want it to be."
That's important to Zenk, who credits her faith and her upbringing for keeping her grounded.
"Everybody deserves a bit of style in their lives," she said. "I can help women find the styles that suit them."