Women's History Month Spotlight: Maisie Dunbar

Maisie Dunbar
Maisie Dunbar
Courtesy of Maisie Dunbar
Founder of Maisie Dunbar Beauty Brands Maisie Dunbar shares her challenges and key learnings in the nail industry.
  1. What inspired you to join the professional nail industry?
    "My co-worker at the time; I worked for British Telecom.”
  2. When and how did you get started in your career?
    “1992 [after being laid off from my job]. I started at a barber shop in Wheaton, Maryland, called UpNext.”
  3. As a female leader/professional, what are some obstacles you experienced, and how did you overcome them? Have you confronted gender-related roadblocks in your career?
    "Some of the obstacles I have experienced are not gender related; it was racial related. When I wanted to expand my salon the first time, I had to go in with my white friend—they thought he was my partner until they later realized it was not so. The way I handle it is the same way I handle any racial discrimination: calm but very firm. I always stand my ground. I also had state inspectors come into my salon and could not believe I was the owner because it was so clean, and we had all our logs documented. Sometimes I was discriminated against by Black people as well. They would look at my young employees and ask them if the owner was around—granted my name was on the door, and I had a name tag. My team would always come and get me, [the clients] would look at me very strangely and compliment me on how beautiful and organized the spa was. I always handle it by being the best in my career and working hard to be the best in the industry.”
  4. What obstacles have you faced, and how did you overcome them?
    “One of my biggest obstacles I faced was when I hired a friend to do my buildout, and he stole my money. I did not find out until one week before we were moving. I worked over 100 hours a week to rebuy all the supplies, and we moved and had signs asking our clients to please forgive us.”  
  5. How can women support other women in this industry?
    The best way in my opinion is to lend a listening ear without judging and respecting each other's strengths. Most importantly, take the time to share and uplift without overstepping boundaries. Be united!”
  6. Tell me about another woman who has inspired you.
    “My mom is my No. 1 inspiration.”
  7. What is one thing you know now you wish you would have known when you started in this business?
    “The number of opportunities/resources out here for female businesses.”
  8. What other key learnings and practices do you wish you to share with other professionals?
    “Collaboration is key. No man is an island. Always be willing to help. Let your ‘no’ be ‘no,’ and your ‘yes’ be ‘yes!’ Be a student for life. I am a green apple, trying to be a red apple. Do not lose sight of YOU! Do not compromise your license; stay in your scope of practice.”
  9. Where do you find education, and how do you continue growing your skills and business?
    “I find education everywhere: online, my peers and now Facebook; I continue growing by reading all my trade magazines, reading business books, surrounding myself with businesswomen who have and are doing what I would like to do, being active in business groups, networking outside the beauty industry as well as inside. I practice my nail skills weekly to be a better Maisie than I was the day before.
  10. What tips do you have for aspiring and budding nail techs?
    “Be you, be honest, be on time for work, follow the state rules, be respectful of your clients’ time, be grateful, be helpful, always acknowledge those who helped you, and never stop learning. You can learn from your clients.”


Related: Women's History Month Spotlight: Koko Kashiwagi

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