We had the good fortune of connecting with Monique Mackson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Monique, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
The thought that I can soar and be financially set all while having the freedom to raise my kids and be there for everything was definitely motivation for me to start my own business. Of equal importance, was the desire to be a positive role model in my community, provide jobs, mentor teenagers and young adults who are interested in being entrepreneurs, and knowing I can make a difference”, were all thoughts that ran through my mind.
I’ve never accepted the fact that I had to work for someone and I disliked how managers would treat me. I would often miss some of the most precious moments of my daughters life because a job wouldn’t allow me time-off. And many times I was afraid to ask for fear of being fired. At the tender age of 24 I knew I had to do better. I knew my life was destined for something far greater than what I was experiencing. I began to think of different ways I could get to the top without degrading myself. I never played any sports so that idea was out. I can’t rhyme well enough to rap…HA! I can hold a tune but far too shy to even try to pursue that. Plus, I needed a plan that could generate money within the next year. One day when I was braiding my daughters hair, a light bulb went off in my head! Those hair people make money (I didn’t know they had a title back then) and I am really good at braiding (I’ve been braiding since I was about 12…maybe younger). I already found myself charging family and friends to braid their hair. Since I already had braiding down pack I thought I could expand on it. Hey, it was definitely worth a try, so I enrolled into beauty school! It beat sitting home not making money and absolutely beat working for someone else.
Fast-forward a decade later. During the COVID shut down (sometime around March 2020) I realized I still wasn’t where I wanted to be financially. The only thing that kept me afloat was my discipline to save money (and of course my husband). I couldn’t service my hair clients due to the fear of being exposed to COVID. People found ways to maintain their own hair for the most part. But, I noticed the ladies that loved to keep their nails and toes done were having a hard time with self maintenance. Businesses were on the verge of shutting down due to the inability to make money and I started to see on social media that nail salons were finding alternative ways to service clients, i.e. PPE, glass shields etc. I also, knew how lucrative the nail business could be based on what I learned in cosmetology school.
Here goes that light bulb in my head again. I figured I could open up a nail salon since people love nails so much! The nail salon would be black owned, upscaled, neat and clean. I can bring change to an industry that services many of my people but dominated by other nationalities. Yes, it was time to bring some gentrification into this industry and my community. According to the Board Of Barbering and Cosmetology, I met all of the qualifications. I researched a lot on how to start a business with a store front, how to open a nail salon, as well as the types of licensing, permits, and certificates I needed to push forward.
Everything I know I literally figured out on my own through months of research, I have a friend that gave whatever info had and a very good client that pushed me further into opening up a salon when the idea was presented to her. I had no knowledge of LLC’s, DBA’s, S-Corps, or C-Corps. I literally had to educate myself! After reading until my phone literally fell on my face, I realized I needed to come up with a name before I could proceed with anything else. It took me months of thinking and rethinking before I settled on a name that represented an atmosphere that is relaxing, clean, safe, quiet, friendly, and with amazing hospitality. It was important for the name to reflect the type of environment I wanted to provide for my clients. I came across the word “content” and it rang in my head “content, content content” I think I loved it. The word alone sounds calm…content. I checked a thesaurus for synonyms or other words I could use other than “content” or in conjunction with. That’s when I saw “Contented”! I didn’t even know that word existed! Seriously, but what I did know is I didn’t have to compromise the word Content and that sounded so good to me. Contented It was! Contented it is! I also wanted the entire name to represented the type of business I was running. Nail shop sounded far too basic for me. Here I go in the thesaurus again! What’s a synonym for salon? BOOM! Parlor! Contented Nail Parlor. I was pleased.
What should our readers know about your business?
Building upon my previous answer of “what was my thought process for starting a business, it has not been easy, but the more I craved success, the more I strived to educate myself on entrepreneurship, good business practices, and how to stay afloat. I read tons of material that stated most businesses fail within their 1st year due to lack of capitol and mentioned I needed have an EIN, a business bank account, business address, business phone line, and a website before any bank would recognize me as a legitimate business and lend a helping hand. I researched various ways to acquire funding and approached a few different avenues but decided to use the money I had saved from doing hair. I literally depleted my savings and moved forward with opening Contented Nail Parlor.
I am the type of person who will not settle. If I don’t know something I will find the answer. Reading, reading, reading is the key! I am teaching my children by example to never give up and how to go after your dreams.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There is so much to do in Southern California! We would definitely hit the beaches and dine at restaurants on the water in Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Malibu, and Santa Monica. And of course we’d spend a day or 2 visiting Mickey at Disney. For people watching and the nostalgia of Hollywood, I would take them for a stroll down the infamous Walk of Fame then onto CityWalk and Universal Studios. Finally, we would do some window shopping in Beverly Hills and on Rodeo Drive to see how the “Rich and Famous” do it Big.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My tribe, which consists of my husband, my daughter, my sons, and a few special clients/friends that continued to push me, inspire me, and support through this journey.
Facebook: Contented Nail Parlor
Yelp: Contented Nail Parlor