My grandmother owned a beauty salon. I can still remember the smells, the conversations, the heat of the dryer on my neck--that part was the worst part btw--and the way I felt when she rolled me around to look at myself in the mirror. I always felt so beautiful when she was done.
Years later, as I grew older I worked at different salon as a shampoo girl which allowed me to keep my edges laid and a few dollars in my middle school and high school pockets. I loved being there and being apart of making women feel and look beautiful. The way they smiled when they saw their reflections in the mirror was priceless and every woman deserves that--no matter what.
As an adult I've shopped around a little bit for hair and nail salons that was the perfect fit for my personality, hair texture and my pockets. It's not easy. The choices are endless and all beauticians and nail techs are not created equally. I've walked into many places, felt the atmosphere and turned right back around and out the door. I've also received horrible service by people that don't understand why a woman goes into a beauty salon in the first place.
So, we've all been there--or at least I have. I've walked into numerous salons-- hair and nail--and immediately either felt welcomed or like a fish out of water. It's the reason I choose to either get my nails done by one person or no one at all. I hate the feeling of walking into an establishment having everyone turn their head towards me, not smile, mumble a quick "be right with you" and then share words with fellow co-workers either in hushed voices or another language followed by snickers and muffled laughter. I ask myself, why in the world would I ever give you my money to be treated like you don't want to service me?
Beauty Salons and nail salons are a place where a woman go to make herself feel and look beautiful for whatever reason and whatever occasion, its a place for women to let their hair down (literally) and chat it up gossiping and just enjoying each other's company. Jamie Lopez, the owner of Baby Doll Beauty Couture knows this feeling all to well. She was inspired to open her salon which promotes body positivity because of an experience no woman should ever have.
So imagine going into a salon to get your hair and nails done only to have the chair break underneath you--in front of everyone! The horror! Needless to say, she never wanted to go back again and was actually forced to get her hair done at home. But, out of this tragedy was birthed triumph and isn't that usually how it goes? Doesn't it seem like our worst moments present us with opportunities for greatness?
It was exactly this moment that inspired Jamie to open up her own salon that would cater to women just like her--plus size and fabulous! Babydoll Beauty Couture is an all inclusive salon that caters to the full-figured woman. And to ensure that no other woman would have to endure what she had to, Jamie made sure that all of the seating in the salon is reinforced with custom made throne like chairs that holds up to 800 lbs and waxing benches--also custom made to hold up to 600 lbs. When we spoke she stated that she did this to "ensure there would be no accidents and so that her clients would feel comfortable." Jamie's been praised all over the country for creating a safe place for plus size women to go and have the opportunity to look and feel beautiful without being mistreated.
So, let me just stop right here and address a few things because I know that there are some people out there who have heard this story and many like it that would just say, "well why won't she just lose the weight?" I've been hearing this question and many other statements like it for the life of this publication. Hell, I've been hearing things like this my entire life and if it were that simple it would be done. But its not and what many people don't realize is that you cannot become the person you may want to be and then start to love yourself and treat yourself like you're special--you have to do that right from where you're at.
If you're 100 pounds to 700 pounds you still have to love you enough to care about you. This is something that many people who don't really struggle with their weight seem to understand. And some people don't see their weight as an issue--they actually like who they are--even if everyone doesn't understand it. But I do. I get it.
Jamie understands this as well, being the only plus size person in her family she grew up very confident and positive. She was even crowned prom queen in high school. She says that she always wanted to be an inspiration to her younger sister letting her know by actions and not just words that you "can do anything" and that you have to keep going in life to accomplish your dreams and goals. She really only wants to make her family proud of her and try to motivate the people around her to dream big!
The discrimination because of her weight has followed her--her entire life. She's always been interested in make-up and went to school for it. She's also worked at MAC and admits to needing a stool to work the required hours but they did not want to accommodate her. She tried standing on her own but started having issues in her legs and pretty soon they just stopped putting her on the schedule. But these obstacles only pushed her towards her destiny of owning her own salon.
Babydoll Beauty Couture started in California and with the support of family and friends did very well but Jamie had dreams of moving to Las Vegas and opening a salon there. She moved there all on her own and fought many obstacles including losing friends and having people give up on her while the project was underway--but Jamie persevered and Babydoll Beauty Couture opened and has been a success ever since. Now, she is able to create an atmosphere of acceptance for everyone.
Her team of hair and make-up stylists share her sentiments. Jose Granados is the head MUA for Babydoll Beauty Couture and he feels that the salon really "embodies the all terms all-inclusive" and that it really does cater to everyone regardless of race and size. He admitted to me that he's worked in other establishments that did discriminate against people because of their race and because of language barriers. He reached out to Jamie via Instagram and she jump started his hiring process. He's been with the company for about five months and says that he has "high hopes for the salon" and that "no one leaves disappointed" and every customer he's worked with has been "appreciative" of the positive atmosphere.
Head Nail Technician Lee Jackson has an amazing story all on her own. She's a a T-cell Lymphoma cancer survivor that switched her career from cosmetology to nails because the chemotherapy weakened her bones and now she suffers from osteoarthritis, and collapsed hips. She's unable to stand or sit for long periods of time but that hasn't stopped her from doing what she loves which is making people feel and look beautiful. Lee's worked with Jamie since the Las Vegas shop opened strongly believes that people should not be bashed for their size. She admits that Babydoll Beauty Couture is a great place to work and the perfect place for a plus size woman to come and feel beautiful.
Jamie has big plans going forward, March 31st marks the 1st anniversary of her Las Vegas shop and she's planning a re-grand opening which I'm sure will be fabulous. She's also hosting a BBW Vegas night club every month and there's a TLC show in the works!
Her story inspires me so much to just live my life regardless of what others think or how they feel. It really is nothing and no one that can hold us back from achieving our dreams and goals but ourselves. It's our own fears and insecurities that keep us down. If we believe in ourselves and have faith in who we are then there's really no limitations to what we can achieve in life and Jamie Lopez is living proof of that!
*Special thanks to Emma Medeiros of Medeiros Fashion PR--the first PR firm in the US to specialize in the plus size industry.
*All photos are credited to Gerry Garcia
Contacts for Jamie Lopez and Babydoll Beauty Couture:
YouTube: The Babydolls Jamie Lopez