Emerge Independence Interviews: Nicole David
In honor of Emerge Juice’s Independence Week, Mel had the brilliant idea to feature a couple of interviews with local small business owners to learn about their personal journeys of seeking independence and freedom. What caused you to emerge from where you were, to where you are now?
Nicole is a Lafayette native and founder of Mon Reve Salon in downtown Lafayette. Nicole has built her reputation over the last 15 years as one of the most sophisticated stylists, gifted colorist and popular makeup artist in Lafayette.
She is motivated by the freedom to create and prides herself on her keen eye for detail. After a decade of working for salons, Nicole reached a point where there was limited support for growth and the opportunity to develop further in her career. She knew that the only path forward, the one which aligned with her dreams, was to open her own business.
Now, seven and a half years later, we sat down with Nicole and asked her to share her story. She graciously gave us a glimpse into her beginnings, her aspirations, and what it takes to fully emerge.
Tell me about where you’re from and where you went to school.
I’m from Lafayette, Louisiana. I am a 2004 graduate of Comeaux High School and an Alumni of the Aveda arts and sciences Institute in Lafayette, Louisiana.
What were you doing right before you decided to break from what felt comfortable or easy and start your business and embark on this current path?
I was working at a local salon for someone else and realized I had my own dreams and ideas I needed to pursue.
What is your definition of independence or freedom?
Whenever you're "not dependent", or not having to depend on anyone or anything else. Also being strong and able to survive alone. I definitely embodied that with opening my business. Although I couldn’t do it completely alone at first. It takes a village! I have a great team and support for sure.
How does staying healthy grant you freedom?
Staying healthy grants me the freedom to have the ability to do my job effectively. If I’m not healthy then I can’t show up and be my best self to give to others.
What about mental upkeep in your profession?
It’s super important to maintain good mental health as a hairdresser because our job is to listen to our guests and give them the experience to assist them with being the best version of themselves. A few examples I do for staying aligned mentally practice a balanced diet, staying active physically. I really enjoy playing soccer and practicing yoga. Taking the time to reset the mind and connect back to nature grounds me. For one to give, one needs to feel whole and complete to give back. I coach our staff to seek that same attention to balance and self-care.
What service(s) or product(s) does your business offer/manufacture?
We specialize in luxury salon services and products. We offer a full line of Aveda hair care and aromas that are plant-based and vegan. Our services include haircuts, coloring, facial waxing, chemical treatments, and hair extension services. A lot of people look at it as just a hair salon but it’s more than just a hair service - it’s an experience. We do an amazing shampoo and incorporating conditioning scalp massage. It’s the ultimate stress-relieving and holistic salon experience. The shampoo ambiance that we offer is set up for a sensory journey, with dim lighting and waterfall sounds. Our attention to detail that all of our staff are trained to implement is one of our biggest qualities, so people feel comfortable and have a lot of trust in us. It helps the guest to fully relax and allows us to be creative too! We do a lot of education every week. To stay current and trailblaze through our industry.
What is your business’ mission/goals?
It’s an ongoing task to articulate those. Overall our mission at Mon Rêve is global harmony – caring for the earth and the life around us.
What did you need to figure out to make your dream business SUSTAINABLE?
Learning that tracking and measuring goals to achieve growth is crucial to success. If you don’t know where you’re at you don’t know how far you have to go to get to what it is you want to achieve. Focus is imperative to creating the reality you desire. We’re a very environmentally conscious company. We contribute by recycling, not printing receipts, asking if a client needs a product bag or if they have a reusable tote they would like to use. We use hand towels that get washed and reused, instead of paper towels. Our product line is manufactured using 100% wind power too!
To what do you attribute your success? Who is your support system?
There’s a more than a handful of people that I owe that to. Those people are close friends and family members who’ve been there and watched me go through hard times and great times, offered financial support or mental support. Thes salon owners and staff who mentored me at the first salon I worked at - they groomed me. I was their protégé and I watched every move they made. I owe a lot of my success to them and that experience.
Also, Louisiana Small Business Development Center - they offered so much assistance. I don’t know how anyone starts their business without them, at least those of us who didn’t go to school for it. From needing support to know what I legally needed to do and consider, like how many chairs I should have to make my overhead work. Just all of the financial numbers and figuring - essentially a formal business. I owe a lot of my startup success to them.
In what DIRECTION is the company headed?
We are constantly improving, evolving, and ever nurturing our culture and systems to be the best!
What is the biggest challenge standing between you and that next level?
Time and patience.
If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting to seek a greater sense of independence or take control of their own lives, what would it be?
If you have a burning desire to start a business or have an idea, it takes you believing in it with all your heart and soul. Get clear-minded about what you want. And focus on it every single day! Believe in it so hard that you influence others to believe it too! Trust yourself that you’re able to do it. Persevere. Don’t ever give up! And when you fail, learn from it. Wipe the dirt off and keep going. Learn from others that have wisdom and have had success in what you're trying to accomplish. Take what you can and apply it. Never stop dreaming - Mon Réve.