Maisie Dunbar's entrance into the beauty industry happened by chance but she's proved to be a natural when it comes to nails.
When Maisie Dunbar got laid off from her job in the tech industry in 1993, she hardly thought of it as a blessing. But losing her job finally allowed her to pursue a lifelong passion for beauty, and she decided to put all of her efforts into becoming a successful nail salon owner. She attended nail technician school and, soon after, sought to open her own nail salon. "I had to go to banks to try and get loans, but I kept getting rejected," Dunbar says. "Then I realized I was going to have to pay for it out of my own pocket." Although Dunbar experienced some hardships early in her beauty career, her nail salon, M&M Nails and Wellness Center in Silver Spring, MD, has been open and going strong for 14 years.
Dunbar's soaring career has given her the chance to work with the WNBA's Washington Mystics, Dark and Lovely Cosmetics, Revlon Cosmetics, Def Jam records and many other big companies and publications. Dunbar enjoys every aspect of her career—photo shoots, traveling, offering nail advice and even the 17-hour days at the salon.
Traveling the country for photo shoots gives Dunbar the needed time away from the salon to figure out how she can modify her business. "I always think: 'How can I set myself apart from others? How can I improve my menu? How can I make my clients' experience better?'" she says.
Owner Maisie Dunbar with a client
At M&M Nails and Wellness Center, guests can escape to an urban oasis and enjoy any of the relaxing treatments—natural nail care, nail enhancements, pedicures, massage treatments and facials. She doesn't try to compete with discount nail salons. She'd rather offer her clients a luxurious nail experience with top-of-the-line products. Dunbar has taken her career in the beauty industry a step further, recently launching her own makeup line called Bluffa Jo, which is a West African term used to describe a style-conscious woman. The long-lasting mineral makeup is available for purchase at bluffajo.com and at her nail salon, as well.
M&M Nails and Wellness Center in Silver Spring, MD
Dunbar's next career endeavor is to take her salon to reality television. "There are too many shows that deal with hair salons," she says. "There needs to be one about a nail salon." —NATALIE GONZALEZ