Beauty must be inclusive! The antiquated idea that women have to look a certain way to be considered beautiful has been harmful to the female psyche. Women are multifaceted, multicultural and unique in their own way. The standard of beauty should begin with learning to embrace and love our differences by celebrating the shape and size of our bodies, the lightness or darkness of our complexions and the best part of who we are, which is our personalities! I see so many inspirational women selflessly working to effect change in the world and yet they have a hard time accepting a compliment. We must learn to highlight individual beauty so that it impacts women positively instead of creating an impossible standard that women don’t feel like they can ever live up to.
As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carla Oliva.
Miami native and entrepreneur, Carla Oliva is the Founder and CEO of DashBar, a new salon-spa opening in Miami this Fall, specializing in providing the modern woman with a collective beauty bar experience that is better, quicker and easier than ever.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Growing up my mother always taught us that hard work and dedication is the key to achieving our dreams. Sadly, my mother passed away from cancer when I was just twenty-one years old. It was a devastating loss particularly since my mom was still young and had finally achieved her goal of owning her own business. My entire world seemed to crumble but I was determined to follow in her footsteps to provide for my own young daughter. Over the years, I became a serial entrepreneur. You can say that I developed a knack for business operations although I prefer to think that I inherited my business acumen from my mother. It really helped me understand how to discern internal company structures and find a way to optimize results.
The idea for the DashBar came one night after a long and exhausting day rushing from one salon to another getting ready to go on a last-minute trip. After recounting my frustrating and harried day to my husband, he planted the seed and the idea for DashBar was born. I recognized that there was an incredible opportunity to make a difference in the beauty service industry. I knew that by creating a collective beauty experience, we would give every modern woman, like myself, an opportunity to take back one of the most valuable commodities that money can’t buy — TIME! The more I shared my thoughts with my girlfriends, the more it strengthened my resolve to make DashBar a reality.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
In my early career, I built a successful real estate title company, but with the collapse of the housing market I wound down that business. I started to look for another business opportunity when one of my friends who moved to Texas told me about her success in owning and operating trucks. Intrigued, I evaluated all of the financials very carefully and decided to take a calculated risk. In 2008 I moved to Texas, partnered with my friend and purchased three 18-wheeler flatbed trucks. At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about the trucking industry, but I was eager to tackle the challenge. Somebody once said that “an entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than they can chew, hoping they’ll quickly learn how to chew it.” They must have been talking about me! We started off with one truck and quickly jumped to three! We began transporting goods all over the United States. It started off really well and I quickly learned the ropes of operating a trucking company. Of course, having two young women from Miami running a trucking business raised some eyebrows, but we quickly earned the respect of our customers and drivers. As you would expect there were still challenges. There was the time that we learned that one of our drivers sadly had become addicted to meth and was using our gas credit card to literally fuel his addiction! We asked him to meet with us so we could take our truck back, but instead he decided to flee with our truck. With the help of our other drivers and colleagues we were able to track down the truck and essentially had to steal the truck back in the dead of night before it was stripped for parts! It was truly a crazy experience which taught me how to deal with totally unexpected events — but we still managed to slowly build the business. However, after a year of working and living in Texas far from my friends and family, I decided to return to Miami. My friends still can’t believe that I actually ran a trucking business in Texas, but that experience taught me many lessons including how to deal with the unexpected which has prepared me for the opening of the DashBar where I have had to deal with construction issues, patents and trademarks and to top it all off a pandemic! It all makes stealing back my truck look like a walk in the park.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
I think every entrepreneur at one point or other experiences highs and lows in their career. It’s just par for the course. The key is to never give up! Something may not have worked out as planned, but you can’t be afraid to reinvent yourself. The biggest lesson I learned is to never be afraid of your dreams, no matter how big or difficult they seem. Only you know your capabilities. Some of those creative grandiose thoughts can flourish into something unique and special. I believe entrepreneurs have creativity and passion within their souls. Muting that would be a disservice.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My husband has been my biggest supporter. His unconditional love has really changed my life! You see, in life there are no shortages of obstacles that arise along the way and those obstacles can sometimes take a toll on your self-confidence. Having unconditional love and support from your significant other can make you feel like you can accomplish anything! I feel blessed to have him as my spouse.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than a half a trillion dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?
When I started my journey in developing DashBar, I spent two years studying the industry and developing our concept along the way. Every woman I chatted with during that time made it abundantly clear that they were all desperate to find a beauty solution that would fit their active lifestyles. They craved a newer, more innovative and efficient way to manage their beauty routines! We knew that we had to create that solution, but we also had to create the tools to bring it to life. I began working with our team to design our patent pending PollyDash chair. Our PollyDash allows us to seamlessly perform multiple services at once, such as blowouts, lashes, facials and nails. I would say that PollyDash is the Rolls Royce of salon chairs! It’s one of a kind and exclusive to DashBar!
Once we finalized the design of our PollyDash, we had to move on to conceptualizing and designing our space. Like most startups, we ran into a few bumps along the road but Covid-19 was by far the most impactful. We quickly pivoted to add handwash sinks at every station, touchless check out points at each station and we designed beautiful partitions to separate one customer from the next. We also installed additional equipment, such as a state of the art virus-killing UV-C light system in our ventilation system, air purifiers with HEPA filters at every station, and implemented the same disinfectant procedure used by airlines and hospitals using electrostatic sprayers every night that spread EPA-approved disinfectant into every nook and cranny of the salon! I’m incredibly proud of the work that has gone into our state-of-the-art facility which was meticulously designed to keep everyone at DashBar safe.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?
- I’m incredibly excited to pioneer what will be a truly new kind of salon, specifically tailored to the modern woman who has no time to waste but still wants a luxe experience! Our innovative PollyDash Chair will allow our guests to save a significant amount of time maintaining their beauty regimen but without sacrificing service, quality or value. It’s a game changer for modern women everywhere!
- Today more than ever women understand that we must treat both Mother Earth and our sisters in a loving way. DashBar is an ethical brand and we are committed to carrying products that are vegan, non-toxic, cruelty free and sustainably sourced. As a result of our commitment, we decided to launch our very own vegan product line. Plant based products are the future and we look forward to pioneering better, healthier, and ethically sourced products!
- Sanitation has always been important in beauty salons, but now it’s even more important. We live in a new normal now and to adjust we have designed a beautiful and spacious salon that seamlessly incorporates the most stringent sanitation protocols along with the most advanced and state-of-the-art equipment. We are confident that we are one of the safest salons in the US. (More info on our website)
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?
- Today, the biggest concern and challenge is the fact that the world as we know it has drastically changed. Although beauty services are still very much in demand, beauty service providers have an obligation to protect the health and well being of everyone who enters their salon.
- We are committed to going above and beyond to protect the health and safety of everyone at DashBar. Our sanitation standards are designed by our medical director Dr. Yana Delkah, who is also a front-line worker and one of first emergency doctors to treat Covid-19 patients in New York City. It is through her guidance and expertise that we have designed one the strictest safety and sanitation protocols in the country!
- There are so many beauty brands out there that claim to be the best for your skin and yet their ingredients actually reflect the opposite. For far too long the beauty industry has gone widely unregulated and deadly toxins have made their way into our cosmetics and skin care products.
- Women are now choosing ethical alternatives and realizing that vegan, non-toxic and cruelty free products are like a breath of fresh air to your skin. As a result of our commitment to ethical beauty, we are launching our very own vegan products. All of our products are vegan, non-toxic and cruelty free. They are sustainably sourced and environmentally conscious.
- When I studied the beauty service industry, I realized that employment structures were mostly commission based. Cosmetologists were given an independent contractor status with no health benefits. The industry was impacted significantly as a result of the pandemic and these workers couldn’t file for unemployment and had no health insurance. I spoke to some who went back to work, only to have the salon owners take a percentage of their tips as well.
- As an ethical brand, we opted to create our own set of rules. We knew that it was important for us to pay a living wage and decided to incorporate that into our business model very early on. In addition to that, our employees receive all their tips and participate in our team-based pay program, which redistributes a percentage of our profits back to the staff. This allows us to offer health benefits and an opportunity for our team to prosper and provide for their families. It’s a win win!
You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?
- Feeling beautiful is really a way of thinking. Some days you feel more confident than others. I think the key is to always be true to yourself and be good to yourself. Surround yourself with friends and family that love and support you. Your network of support gives you the confidence you need to look and feel your best! Also, don’t forget to take some time to give yourself a little self-care. Life can be complicated with schedules and responsibilities, but I think it’s really important to take the time to show ourselves a little self-love.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, Can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”. Please share a story or an example, for each.
- I believe that clean and sustainable beauty is the most important change happening in the beauty industry. Consumers are more conscious than ever of the ingredients that go into our cosmetics and skin care products and as a result are holding beauty brands to a higher standard than ever before. Those companies who don’t do the right thing will see their sales decline in the years to come.
- Beauty must be inclusive! The antiquated idea that women have to look a certain way to be considered beautiful has been harmful to the female psyche. Women are multifaceted, multicultural and unique in their own way. The standard of beauty should begin with learning to embrace and love our differences by celebrating the shape and size of our bodies, the lightness or darkness of our complexions and the best part of who we are, which is our personalities! I see so many inspirational women selflessly working to effect change in the world and yet they have a hard time accepting a compliment. We must learn to highlight individual beauty so that it impacts women positively instead of creating an impossible standard that women don’t feel like they can ever live up to.
- We currently live in an era of global connection. Beauty brands extend across continents and they have a real opportunity to be a voice for those who don’t have the platform to express themselves. Women all over the world have experienced terrible acts of violence, sexual assault and much more. Beauty brands have a responsibility to speak out against these acts and can coalition change to protect valuable lives. I believe that women have an incredible power to create change in the world when we support one another.
- I believe that women want to see more ethical brands on the market. Ethical brands are those that we know are making the right choices when it comes to not just healthy ingredients, but also sustainable sourcing of those ingredients, environmental impact to minimize waste, ensuring that no products are tested on animals and paying their employees a living wage. We should expect ethical bands to choose the health and safety of people, our planet and animals over corporate profits every time.
- I also believe that innovation in the beauty service sector is something the industry desperately needs. Women are the biggest consumers of beauty products and beauty services in the world. They are also busier than ever before having to juggle a career, family and active lifestyle. It’s time that brands stepped up their game to create a better and more efficient way for women to enjoy beauty services. The beauty experience should be one of relaxation and not looking at their watches to check the time. DashBar introduces innovation in the beauty service sector and we are positive that once women experience Fast. Casual. Beauty. they will never want to go back to their old routines!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I’ve always dreamed of having an opportunity to create a strong company that can serve as a platform to do some good in the world. When I started conceptualizing DashBar the idea that we could make a positive impact in our community was never far from my mind. Today, we are actively forming relationships with non-profits in the Miami area that help women in distress. We are part of a community that we wish to see succeed and thrive, but to do that we must also play an active role in helping those who need it most. I am also a committee member and supporter of the Selfless Love Foundation. Selfless Love Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing foster youth with opportunities that enable them to find their forever families and provides resources for a pathway towards independence and success for those aging out of the foster care system. You can learn more about the Selfless Love Foundation here.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“All dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
I can’t think of any other life lesson quote that fits in better with my experience than this one. Life can be full of obstacles that can get in the way of our goals and it takes real courage to step outside of your comfort zone to become an entrepreneur. I know that things don’t always go according to plan, but I believe strongly in that when you take risks, those experiences teach you valuable lessons which you would have never learned had you not taken that risk. I believe that everything comes full circle and eventually you land right where you were meant to be.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
About the Interviewer: Jilea Hemmings is a staunch believer in the power of entrepreneurship. A successful career revamping Fortune 500 companies was not enough for her entrepreneurial spirit, so Jilea began focusing her passion in startups. She has successfully built 6 startups to date. Her passion for entrepreneurship continues to ﬂourish with the development of Stretchy Hair Care, focusing on relieving the pain associated with detangling and styling natural black hair. For far too long, people with tender heads have suffered in pain. Until now.