BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: MEET CARINA BROOKS-KING OF CARINA ESTHETICS
“I don’t have time to be a diva,” declares busy wife and mother of three, Carina Brooks-King. She is also the owner of Carina Esthetics, a mobile spa and beauty service. The company provides on-location services including nail artistry, make-up, spa services and personal styling. Brooks-King started the Orlando, Florida area company in 2009 and things have not stopped since.
“I started the mobile service out of necessity,” she admits. “I (originally) had the mindset of being in a salon. I pictured myself as that type of stylist.” However–as fate would have it–things did not work out like she planned. After graduating from the Manhattan Hairstyling Academy in 2009, she planned to start off working in a salon. The would-be entrepreneur–who also has a bachelor’s degree in business administration–got a quick lesson in economics. She discovered the hard way that the recession had greatly reduced the demand and need for stylists. With nothing else on the horizon, she decided to go into business for herself.
Though her decision was born of necessity, Brooks-King’s resourcefulness has blossomed into a thriving business. When she started her mobile service, people called her crazy–friends and family included. “But I wouldn’t do it any other way,” she shares. She started the company while living in the Tampa area. However, as word of her business got out, she soon had a much larger clientele base in the Orlando area–along with a greater opportunity to grow the business. So, she moved to the Orlando suburb of Wekiva Springs, where she could continue to raise her family, nurture her growing clientele and continue to expand her service area.
When she first started offering mobile services, it was a very new concept. Brooks-King was one of first in her area. Today, the concept is not so novel, so she is not without competition. As she puts it, “The beauty industry is totally saturated.” So to stay competitive and relevant, she is willing to travel beyond her city’s limits to customers. Says Brooks-King, “Unlike many, I will travel well beyond my home service area. I go where ever my clients are.” In fact her tag line should probably be, will travel for beauty. As she has been up and down the east coast working fashion events and other shows. She even travels to her husband’s native West Indies for her business. She doesn’t mind, though. In fact she loves it. “I’m passionate about what I do. That’s why I chose my particular services. I love doing nails; I love doing facials; I love make-up,” exclaims Brooks-King. In an industry as demanding as beauty, you have to really love what you do. Though, she cautions that it takes much more than passion. “I work very hard to ensure a quality service,” she adds. As with any business you must be willing to put in the work. “I know my clients–their likes, dislikes, et cetera–because I spend time developing relationships and getting to know them.”
For the up and coming Brooks-King advises the same attention to detail. She adds that it is important to continue to develop and maintain your skill set. ” You cannot afford to get complacent in such a competitive industry,” she warns. And competitive it is. In the beauty industry, it is not about what you know, rather who you know. You are looked at for who you have mentored under or worked with and there is a sense of elitism and a lot of side-eyes when you can’t, don’t or choose not to name drop. It gets worse outside of the Black community, she adds. With so much emphasis on money and a celebrity client base, it can be a tough world. “When you try to be an individual you can get shut out, especially if you haven’t packaged yourself to their standards,” says Brooks-King. “If you aren’t careful and comfortable in your own skin, the pressure can get to you quickly.”
She hopes that despite the hurdles, more Blacks will explore the opportunities in the beauty industry, beyond just doing hair. “You don’t see many estheticians or nail artists,” she observes. A former beauty school instructor, she shares that she had very few Black students in her nail artistry classes. “I would start off with an almost all Black class. By the time the class was over, there would be very few white and Hispanics students left, but not one Black student. So I began asking why,” says Brooks-King. The answer astonished her–only Asians do nails. Yes, there are tons of Asian nail salons and yes you can get your nails done at many of these places for $20 or less. However, she stresses, “Doing nails is an art. I think that has been lost on the general public.”
Brooks-King shares that even past the industry hurdles, the hardest part of the business has been the racism. Living in Florida there is a lot of racism and stereotyping that she faces. Many of her clients are surprised to see a Black woman standing at their door, when she first arrives. “I never let it get me down though. I do my best to make sure they like the service. In fact I still book many of my initial clients,” says a determined Brooks-King. She does contrast her experience in the United States to her time spent in the West Indies. The difference is like night and day. “There is no racism. Negativity doesn’t exist. It’s a whole other world, with a much more laid back vibe,” she says. She also emphasizes the very positive business climate for Black women entrepreneurs, ” You get a lot of positive support, because a Black woman in business is not a novelty there. You get a lot of compliments and respect.”
Through it all Brooks-King has remained grounded in her business and the industry. She truly does not have the time or desire to be a diva. “When I get home it’s easy to forget the day, because I have my family to focus on,” she says. She is also bolstered by her own accomplishments. “When the economy changed, I saw a lot of people changing careers. I can proudly say that I am still here and consistently booking. I’m proud that I’ve been in the business this long.”
When asked about Minding Your Black Business Brooks-King addresses something that we all could use–a chance. She notes that within the Black community we tend to hold one another to much higher standards. Meanwhile, it is all too common to accept inferior service from outside of the community. While she wholeheartedly believes that there is more to business than just collecting money, she also says that we should be a little more trusting of one another. “Let’s keep it in the community.”
To learn more about Carina Brooks-King and Carina Esthetics, visit her website.
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