SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Anyone walking into Cherica Jones’ inviting, hot-pink and floral-decorated women’s wellness spa would never guess the owner’s tough road to entrepreneurship.
Her journey began early in life, a time when Jones shares she had lots of active energy with not many outlets to channel it. “I kind of grew up in anger management and conflict resolution classes and was very young, so I didn’t know how to take the information in,” Jones tells WSAV.com NOW.
When she’d land herself in hot water, she says she’d oftentimes get sent to a juvenile detention center. Her time in the system began at 10 years old.
“By the time I was 13, I was committed to the state,” Jones said. “I was always told if I didn’t get it together, there was gonna be a place for me, and there was definitely a place for me.”
From juvenile detention centers to boot camp, and county jail to prison, the business owner shares that it was like a never-ending cycle until one day, the young woman woke up in a prison cell with an epiphany.
“I was just like, ‘I don’t want to die in a place like this,’” Jones said, adding that she knew she wanted to turn her life around at the age of 25.
She moved to Florida for a chance at a clean slate. However, she ran into another bump in the road.
“That was against the law and against the rules, so I was re-arrested, locked back up and sentenced for the remainder of my time on parole and wasn’t released until February 2016,” she said.
She prepared herself for a new life after incarceration while still behind bars.
“Once I realized I had a [release] date, I immediately started writing down everything I needed to do, things as simple as getting an ID, paying to get my license from being suspended,” Jones said. “There was a whole notebook filled with everything I needed to do to better myself once I came home, and that is exactly what I did.”
Seven months after her final release from jail and ready for a new start, Jones stepped into the world of entrepreneurship.
A health emergency while incarcerated led Jones toward her eventual calling as CEO of The Yoni Spa Room, she says.
‘Trying to heal myself’
During her time in prison, Jones says her body was already experiencing fibroids, growths in the uterus, though she didn’t immediately realize it. Then she began noticing something was very wrong.
“[I had] this period that came on and never went off,” she revealed.
“I just kept going through all these different issues; I had to fight to get extra pads; I had to fight to get my voice heard to even make it into the medical part of the facility,” she added, thanking her warden at the time for showing compassion.
“He was somebody that actually cared, he actually ended up getting outside doctors to come in and check me out,” Jones said.
They discovered she had fibroids and endometriosis. She had to be rushed to the hospital for a blood transfusion and was told that a hysterectomy would be the best option.
She declined, and once she was released, she began looking into natural ways to treat her body.
“I met some ladies in the park and at the time, they were the Sister Circles of Savannah; they’re now known as Sankofa House,” Jones said. “They taught me about natural foods, foods that feed fibroids and all of those issues, and I soaked it up like a sponge.”
From there, she says she took classes in Atlanta to further educate herself.
“I learned all this information trying to heal myself, but in the meantime, I was helping many other women at the same time,” she said.
‘We are not alone’
“My own personal experiences going through fibroids, endometriosis and painful periods made me dive into it more and want to learn more, like there has to be another way, and learning about this, [I realized] I’m not alone; we are not alone,” Jones said. “Women in general go through these issues on a regular basis.”
She began envisioning her own wellness spa that could help other women going through similar issues.
“Everyone was like, ‘Well, what do you see in this spa?’” Jones said.
“I’m like, ‘I see women coming in to cleanse themselves in a sacred space where they can let their guards down,” she said. “They can come in here and be like, ‘hey, this is wrong,’ or, ‘I don’t feel comfortable when I do this,’ and for them to look me in the face and be like ‘hey, I’ve been through that too, so I can help you.’”
Jones says The Yoni Spa Room offers services like waxing, face and body masks and steams.
“Most women come for a traditional yoni steam, which helps balance your pH, with yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and bad periods,” she shared.
Her next goal is to own a natural holistic clinic allowing women to heal, cleanse and detox, she says.
“It’s more than just drinking juice,” she added, stressing the importance of a healthy diet.
Advice for young girls
Jones’ journey from troubled convicted felon to businesswoman has been far from easy, but it has taught her a lot.
As she approaches her fourth year of entrepreneurship, she hopes to impart that wisdom on girls who might be headed down a similar rough road as she once found herself.
“As a teenaged juvenile, you have a whole lot of time so you don’t have to go as far as I went before you wake up and realize it,” she said. “You can actually stop now.”
She recommends that they form solid bonds with their parents, grandparents or guardians, and pay attention to their advice.
“Everything they’re telling you is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so I would say listen to them,” Jones said.
“If you are ahead and already in the county or are older, definitely stop and see where you want your life to be, because people are dying in prison,” she said.
“You don’t want to roll over and this the last place somebody remembers you being; every day, that got me through it.”
Jones suggests that young women write down all of their goals for the future sooner rather than later.
“Set yourself up in a place where you can do it now, because it’s never too late, but you don’t want to waste all your time,” she said.