WAXHAW – As a teenager, Nikki Bourgeault could not afford a flat iron to straighten her hair, so she and her cousin used a normal iron when they would do makeovers on each other.
Years later, Nikki has made a name for herself in the beauty industry, working with fashion designers and NFL cheerleaders and opening Brush’d Salon in south Charlotte this September.
Though she loved everything beauty-related, owning a salon was not Nikki’s original dream as a teenager. In high school, she thought she would go to pharmacy school, but after spending time working at a pharmacy, she quickly realized it was not her career path. She went back to what she had always been passionate about – beauty.
While the beauty industry was not originally Nikki’s end goal, owning a business was. She dreamed of owning a business after being inspired by her father, who always instilled a strong work ethic.
“If you chase a dream long enough, it will happen,” Nikki said.
She has been chasing this dream since she finished studying. She joined the Aveda Institute in Uptown Charlotte as an educator, starting the institute’s first evening program which allowed students to work full-time jobs during the day and attend classes at night.
She also joined Aveda’s corporate team, which allowed her to work as a makeup artist for several fashion shows throughout New York Fashion Week. She worked as a lead makeup artist on shows for brands including Project Runway, Nautica and Sherry Hill.
“It’s controlled chaos,” Nikki said as she remembered her time at Fashion Week. “It’s very fast-paced and high-energy. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of hard work, and it’s not all glitz and glam like people would think. There were many times when I had three shows in one day, so I’m literally running across the city from show to show. By the end of the day, you are physically and mentally exhausted.”
Nikki supervised 12 makeup artists to work on more than 40 models during her first fashion show as a lead makeup artist. She said the process leading up to the show included working with the designer to put together a look, creating a face map for the look and teaching other artists how to recreate it.
When she worked at a salon, she was the lead makeup artist for an NFL cheerleading team, where she did the cheerleaders’ gameday makeup and taught them off the field looks.
She then set out on her own in a salon studio, building up clientele and creating her own brand before deciding to expand Brush’d into the Reafield shopping center. Nikki fell in love with the space as soon as she saw it, but the timing was not right on her first attempt to secure it. After months of touring other potential spaces, she saw her dream location was still available. Within a few hours of calling her broker, this time, it was hers.
“I loved the location, even down to the color of the bricks on the building,” Nikki said. “Even though we didn’t get the space the first time, I just knew. I just knew that that was the spot and it was meant to be. I feel like God was trying to teach me to be patient.”
Making the transition from working for an employer and independently to managing a team of stylists at Brush’d has been an “eye-opener” for Nikki. She said now, it is not just about her. She feels responsible for her employees and their families.
It has been a rewarding experience for her.
“I feel like when they succeed, I succeed,” Nikki said. “I love going in the salon and working side by side with my team. They inspire me as much as I hope I inspire them. The feeling in there is just really sweet. We all support each other and it’s a fun environment.”
She also invests in the stylists, making sure they are educated on the latest hair and beauty techniques. As a stylist and an owner, Nikki knows education is critical to delivering excellence so she closes on Mondays to hold regular classes for the staff.
Brush’d also hosts Kevin Murphy color classes and has Jane Iredale come in to teach makeup lessons.
“Our industry is one where you never stop learning,” Nikki said.
In addition to looking out for her employees, Nikki said she has a heart for serving the community and always looks for ways to give back, especially to causes like Cystic Fibrosis.
Her advice to women in business and women hoping to start businesses is to get involved in the community, network and ask many questions.
She also advised women to reach out to people they see as successful.
“I’m not afraid to reach out to the people I see as successful and ask them questions,” Nikki said. “If you see someone else in business and killing it and doing an amazing job, just ask them for advice.”
Nikki hopes to open more Brush’d locations in the future to serve even more of the community. She is starting an apprenticeship program, which will allow recent hair school graduates to train at Brush’d, assist stylists and eventually work as a stylist at the salon.
“Nikki successfully runs Brush’d Salon where she pours herself into her clients and her team and has built a culture of excellence through education and service,” Nikki’s husband wrote in his nomination.
Want to go?
Brush’d Salon is located at 9925 Rea Road, Suite 102, Waxhaw. Call 980-339-7230 or visit www.brushdsalon.com for details.