“A year before I opened up my studio and before going to school, I made a status on Facebook talking about the beauty and potential Morrilton has and how we just need young business minded individuals to come explore it and now I realize I was just speaking about my future,” says Danielle Wright, owner of Dani’s Beauty Studio.
Prior to becoming an Esthetician and business owner, Danielle’s world was all about basketball, with goals of playing in the WNBA. “I was so nervous leaving something that I knew like the back of my hand to go pursue something I knew nothing about,” she says. Danielle unknowingly manifested her reality and is now working diligently in a field that was once unfamiliar, creating positive experiences centered around skincare and beauty.
What was it like growing up in Morrilton, Arkansas?
Growing up in Morrilton was pretty normal for me. I had a diverse friend group. I have always naturally been a people person and had a very spunky and bubbly personality. I was very active in my community or well known in the community.
A large part of your life was spent as an athlete on the basketball court. You even played at the collegiate level. Was basketball always your end goal?
Growing up I just knew I was going to go play in the WNBA and I worked so hard for so many years to achieve that goal. Even after having my son I continued to play basketball in college. I loved—still do—the game so much. It’s all I ever knew. That’s what I was known for. Our hometown hero Shekinna was a big inspiration for me. I wanted to be like her and inspire girls younger than me.
What was the timeline from no longer playing basketball to deciding that you wanted to become an Esthetician?
Before I officially quit playing basketball in college, I was already enrolled in an esthetics course. I had done a lot of research and prayer to make sure this was the right move for me and my son. I was so nervous leaving something that I knew like the back of my hand to go pursue something I knew nothing about. I was out of basketball for only a couple of months or weeks before my first day of esthetics school.
What ultimately sparked your interest in skincare?
I started waxing myself and my friends and found that to be fun so I went to go get a wax and asked the wax specialist what courses I needed to take in order to do it and she told me about becoming an Esthetician.
For those that don’t know, what do you do as an Esthetician?
An Esthetician is someone who is knowledgeable about the nature and appreciation of beauty. We perform an array of services such as facials like chemical peels, dermaplaning—those two are extremely popular—extractions similar to Dr. Pimple Popper, treatment facials, hydrafacials, microdermabrasion and more. We also do full body waxing, makeup, lash extensions, and brow services which is what I specialize in. There are hundreds of skin and body services we are able to perform based on your state laws.
What was your experience with becoming licensed?
I enjoyed school. There were a lot of other Black women and even men in my class which made me feel comfortable. I feel like we learned the basics, but enough to help me pass my tests in order to get my license. School was a six-month program and for the first three months it was strictly book work, tests, and practicing on each other. The last three months were taking clients. Then, we had to pass two tests at the end of our course in order to be licensed.
Considering your location and how you identify as a Black woman, is there any representation in your field?
In Morrilton I am the only Black Esthetician so there isn’t anyone else here. Which has been very inspiring because I get a lot of clients of color that have been looking for someone of color to help them with their skin and beauty needs. I’m happy that I’m able to help so many.
There are way more Estheticians in the central Arkansas area that are white rather than of color so to be able to help increase our percentage has been really important to me. Since I have become an Esthetician and opened my own studio, I have had so many young Black women inboxing me asking for help and advice on starting their journey on becoming an Esthetician and telling me how I have inspired them. Which in return inspires me and makes me go so much harder, realizing other women look at me as inspiration.
What are some misconceptions that people have about skincare?
Some of the most common misconceptions that I have noticed are that Black people don’t need sunscreen. Which is the biggest lie! If anything, we need it just as bad. If you have dark marks and go into the sun without sunscreen you only make the marks darker and more visible. There’s a sunscreen, Black Girl Sunscreen, that I live by. It was created by a young Black lady and it doesn’t leave a white cast and it isn’t thick. You’re supposed to wear sunscreen every day even if it isn’t sunny.
Another misconception I’ve heard is the word “anti-aging” which is typically used by more mature people to reverse aging and wrinkles which is impossible unless you get botox or fillers. Anti-aging is supposed to be used before you get wrinkles, not to correct them.
Another one is that once you wax the hair grows back thicker which is the opposite. Your hair starts to grow in thinner each time. There are so many misconceptions that I’ve heard and learned so far and I hope to continue to educate people on these.
Let’s talk ownership. You created a brand, XIXEsthetics, that now has a physical location in your hometown of Morrilton. How does it feel to be a young Black female entrepreneur?
It is literally one of the most amazing feelings. Even though it has its moments where I feel like giving up, I love it so much. To be able to walk into my own Beauty Studio every day is such of a blessing that I never knew I would have. A year before I opened up my studio and before going to school, I made a status on Facebook talking about the beauty and potential Morrilton has and how we just need young business-minded individuals to come explore it. Now I realize I was just speaking about my future.
There are not a lot of Black female entrepreneurs and there are none my age here and I just hope to inspire more of us to follow our dreams. The average age of Morrilton’s population is 40 years old, which is too old so I plan on bringing more businesses to our city to help bring in younger people which in return brings in more revenue and opportunities for businesses here.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Service wise I love doing brows. It is so therapeutic to me. I love seeing people’s reactions and helping people become more confident and feel prettier one brow at a time. I love teaming up with other entrepreneurs in surrounding cities and in Morrilton, working together to help each other grow, and I love learning new things.
You’re also a mother. What has motherhood taught you in your journey through entrepreneurship?
I’m still learning the patience part, but so far motherhood has put me on the path I was destined to be on. I say this all the time—my son steered me in the right direction. He helped me find myself and showed me that I was supposed to take this path. Motherhood has also taught me to enjoy all of the moments. Enjoy the good days of business and even the struggles because they make you stronger and more knowledgeable.
You’re located in the heart of Morrilton, the downtown area. Have you experienced any challenges as a new business owner?
I have not had any challenges location wise other than people saying it was kind of hard to find (out of town clients). All of my business neighbors are so nice and have sent me clients or have received services from me. I have had so many clients come from my community that I have never met come support me and I am so grateful for that.
What advice do you have for individuals from small towns who want to contribute to their communities in terms of businesses, but may not know where to start?
Pray on it. Do your research. Take polls. Look at what your town is lacking in and go feed that need. Stay active in the community activities so you can get your name out there. Be consistent.