Arsonia Allman, the founder of Arnello's, was born in South Carolina on April 13, 1903. She grew up during a time when Blacks, especially women, were hardly expected and seldom encouraged to even imagine owning and managing a successful independent business. In 1933, when she opened her first shop on First Street in Richmond, her strength and business acumen were still not the expected norm. But, Arsonia was not only a business woman, but also a visionary and her strong business intuition inspired her to move to 2nd and Clay Street in 1945. The shop, now called Arnello's Beauty Shoppe, was named based on a private nickname she had for her daughter, Inez.
Early on, for convenience, she ran the business while she maintained residence on the 2nd floor of her Clay Street brownstone.Eventually, she moved out, but the shop remained. To this day, it shares a rich and vibrant history with the surrounding Jackson Ward District, which was known as "the Harlem of the South" and the birth place of Black capitalism.
As a smart business woman, Arsonia recognized the need for products designed specifically for her customers, women of color in the area. So, to fill the gap, she designed and produced her own specialized formulations. As time moved on, Arnello’s became popular for both the quality of service and the innovative products created by Arsonia. Click here to view a copy of the brochure published by her to advertise her "hair preparations".
When she died in 1987, at the age of 84, Arsonia passed the business on to one of her beloved granddaughters, Muriel Brown. Muriel, well aware of what was entrusted to her, was determined to maintain the shop and live up to her grandmother’s legacy. Muriel, who later became Muriel Lee, received a business degree and is still constantly taking classes and seminars to improve her craft.
Muriel Lee, recognizes the blessings she has received through a business that has survived three generations. Because she understands her responsibilities to her customers and the community, Arnello’s has preserved its historical significance and continues to offer first class service to all of its customers.