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Whitney Walker’s Undeniable Relentless Effort

Whitney Walker
Whitney Walker Owner, Beauty Bar

In 2015, Whitney Walker took a chance on herself and pursued her passions—she could never have known that she would one day be at the head of a growing empire, Beauty Bar.

Whitney Walker’s story begins in the small, quaint town of Minot, North Dakota where she grew up and lived starting at the age of eight. Receiving a scholarship to North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton took Whitney out of her hometown and set her on a new path. Whitney completed the dental program, earning her associate’s degree. From there Whitney continued to pursue her education and transferred to Minnesota State University in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Whitney’s influence into the business world was a seed that had long been planted since she was a child growing up with an entrepreneurial-minded mother who owned her own hair salon, a clothing store, and multiple food truck businesses. Having always enjoyed makeup and beauty, Whitney’s interest peaked one day when she watched a commercial on TV about pursuing a career in skincare as an esthetician. This led to her further researching the industry and that was the start of her journey into the world of beauty

“It’s a blessing that takes copious amounts of relentless effort.”

Taking advantage of social media and popular platforms like Youtube, Whitney began showcasing her makeup skills—honing and improving upon them each time. Makeup tutorials were becoming a very prevalent trend in the 2010s and it gave her the chance to connect with a wider audience. Leaning into the business side of things, Whitney began selling makeup through a multi-level marketing beauty brand that gave her her first professional dive into the trade.

The culture and lifestyle around the industry made Whitney crave more. “What was so simple to me: putting on some eyeliner, some lipstick, some powder and being out the door— could make such a huge difference and have an impact on how people feel about themselves,” she said. The simplicity of it all made Whitney feel good and proud to be able to make people feel special. It’s a feeling that would continue to fuel her throughout the years.

Beauty Bar began in Whitney’s home. Most of her earlier clients were friends and family, and little by little her base grew. She soon outgrew her home business and with the help of a new connection, Whitney was encouraged to begin checking out brick and mortar locations with a realtor—giving Beauty Bar an official home at its very first location at 624 Main Avenue in Downtown Fargo in 2018.

Whitney felt an immediate connection to the historical building. “My parents, my upbringing, was kind of older, more reserved, quiet—rich but bustling…Very much like the details and intricacies of this building. Older, quiet but firm and solid I loved it!”

Walk into the vintage building and Whitney’s description of it all falls into place. In October of 2018, Beauty Bar launched its grand opening in a small suite on the second floor overlooking the elaborate wooden staircase that ran down the center of the large establishment. Whitney started off by herself in a single room with one table, a pillow, and just a handful of clients. In just a few short years she’s accumulated a successful, solid group of talented employees, co-workers and contractors.

Though the initial space was small, Whitney made the best of it and focused on growing her business, conducting skincare procedures in one room and makeup in the other. The “OG Beauty Bar” is what Whitney and her team has affectionately dubbed the space that started it all for her. Today, Beauty Bar is in three different locations in North Dakota with the other two locations being in her hometown of Minot and in Wahpeton.

Whitney admits doing what she loves has made her journey seem less like work because she’s truly adhered to her passions and has remained steadfast in making sure she and her employees are constantly taking on new skills and keeping up with their training. Whitney attended and completed her own training at Josef’s School of Hair, Skin, and Body here in Fargo and graduated in 2014.

In an ever-changing industry, it’s essential to continue to take classes and keep up with the new beauty trends. Most recently, Whitney has taken on permanent makeup which has seen an uptake in popularity in the last few years. Beauty Bar offers a number of skin care services such as skin waxing, a variety of facials, face and body treatment, lash extensions, makeup and now permanent makeup.

At the start of Whitney’s career, she noticed that there was a lack of resources for people like her who wanted to do more than just be in the industry but build something of their own. Wanting to inspire and empower others, Whitney developed a continuing education curriculum and program for estheticians that wanted to start a business.

“Opening my own business was always the end goal for me. After I completed my schooling I realized that not very many places here provided training for the ever-so amount of changing services that our industry offers.” Whitney studied what was available in the area, acquired all the necessary certifications and fashioned her program specifically with training that wasn’t available everywhere else and targeted newly graduating estheticians.

Designed with that in mind, Whitney also wanted to make sure that Beauty Bar’s Master Esthetician Program is flexible enough for those who have to balance full-time jobs and still have the ability to work towards their personal career goals. The program, which consists of 1,000 hours, also offers students an apprenticeship that will allow them to practice their skills at the Beauty Bar alongside experienced estheticians.

Whitney could not have foreseen all that her future would entail. At the start, all she knew was that she wanted to be successful and that failure was simply not an option. “I made a determination in my brain to stay on this path and survive. Once I got past the survival piece, then came growth. I grew ridiculously and now I’m at the place of maintaining (the businesses).”

Naturally, it’s a lot of work, commitment, and pressure to maintain all that Whitney has built but she chooses to see it as more than just stress which carries a negative connotation. “It’s a blessing that takes copious amounts of relentless effort.”

Whitney is acutely aware of her unique position as a young, Black woman in business. Growing up as one of the few Black kids in Minot, she was no stranger to discrimination, racism, and ignorant stereotypes. “What I’ve learned amongst society and amongst people that look different from you or grew up different from you—is to just stand firm in what you believe in and be undeniably good at what you do.”

Black kids in Minot, she was no stranger to discrimination, racism, and ignorant stereotypes. “What I’ve learned amongst society and amongst people that look different from you or grew up different from you—is to just stand firm in what you believe in and be undeniably good at what you do.”

This self-taught belief system has stayed with her whole life and when it came to her career, she made no mistake in applying it to everything she does. How Whitney sees it is when you’re good at what you do—race, gender, age—are all irrelevant in the grander scheme of things. Whitney believes it is her skill set that has attributed most to her career and has kept her business thriving.

“In business school, they always tell you that you need to have a target market and demographic—I don’t.” Whitney spent many years at the beginning of her beauty business pondering out the who, the why, and the what of it all and came to the conclusion that the demographic simply didn’t matter so long as she continued to provide quality service, her clientele expanded and continues to.

While she could’ve moved to a larger city and catered to the demographic that looked more like her—she wanted to create her roots in the place that gave her her start and create a welcoming environment for anyone to walk out feeling like their best selves.

Here in smaller demographics, there are lots of cliques and stereotypes that present challenges for Whitney and her business. “I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t want to be a Black business because I’m a Black business owner—I just want to be a beauty bar.” Showcasing her skillset is how she’s overcome any challenges that have come her way.

“I don’t get bogged down by the question of ‘what it’s like to be a Black business owner’—ask me what it’s like to be a business owner. I’m going to tell you it’s fabulous! And before long I’m going to tell you that being an African American business owner, that’s prominent and succeeding in running a real business is also very prideful for me.” Whitney could not be more proud of the amount of time, effort, growth and energy that has gotten her to where she is today.

Whitney’s advice for those who are looking to follow a similar path is to have an end goal. “Know what it’s going to look like, what you imagine or dream it to look like and execute it one step at a time.” Looking back at her first couple of years in business, Whitney believes had she slowed down a bit and taken the steps instead of jumping, she wouldn’t have had to backtrack as much. “When you have a detailed end goal, an end plan, an end vision—the journey through it isn’t as strenuous.”

Once Beauty Bar grew beyond that second-floor suite, Whitney expanded the business by acquiring an additional suite on the third level of the building that has been designed as a replica of the upstairs suite and has provided more space for her employees. Whitney refers to the space as Beauty Bar II which is where eyelash extensions, as well as full-body waxing, is done.

Did you know?

Whitney Walker also owns Texas Best Express, a (closed for the time being) food truck featuring a beef chili cheese dog topped with crunchy potato chips. The food truck also features pulled pork, polish sausages, ribs and desserts.

As Whitney reflected on her success over the years, she knew could not be where she is were it not for the incredible relationships and connections she made every step of the way. She was blessed to have business mentors from a variety of business backgrounds to show her the ropes of customer service, sales, management, and even bookkeeping. She capitalized on every relationship and connection she made professionally regardless if they were in the beauty industry or not.

“When I first moved here I was a waitress. Kent Larsen of Chef’s Table brought me to a restaurant Barbacoa, owned by Dan Herder and managed by Cody Nelson before it permanently closed. I had no clue what I was doing at first, but I loved the people; they were all like family to me.”

Many would be shocked to find out that the self-made beauty mogul’s very first business venture was actually as the owner of a food truck, Texas Best Express on Broadway. Much like the same feelings of pride she experienced when working with her beauty clients, Whitney felt just as attached to making people feel good through delicious, well-prepared food. The food truck was popular for their delicious crunchy dogs.

Once the pandemic set in, Whitney was forced to put that business to the side (for now) to focus on Beauty Bar. Whitney was still running Beauty Bar out of her home when she connected with a food truck customer who took notice of her Beauty Bar hat and t-shirt. After a quick exchange, he booked an appointment with her and actually became one of her greatest friends and mentors. This was the friend that would later introduce her to the realtor who helped her find Beauty Bar’s home base downtown. Today they continue to meet monthly to discuss business financials and growth ideas.

“The Fargo community, my neighbors, my friends, and my parents—they all believed in me. I have a lot of support and didn’t have to seek anyone out or pay them.” Whitney realizes that for some that may be the only option and that’s okay.

“If even one person believes in you—that’s all you need. We have to stop getting hung up on who’s there to support us and get hung up on what it is you really want to do. The people that truly support you will come along. It’s a visual industry and you have to allow your skill to speak for itself.” Whitney feels she has received more love and support from strangers than she has from people she actually knows and that’s because she kept pushing forward despite whether there was someone there to support her or not.

Whitney is not limiting herself to one industry and feels you only do yourself a disservice when you do so. Wigs are yet another passion of Whitney’s that she has made a reality with the opening of The Wig Suite by Whitney. The small store specializes in handmade, custom wigs for everyone. The store is located on the same floor as Beauty Bar II, only a quick turn down the hallway. The wig store will soon be providing professional wig installations.

When asked what was coming next, Whitney explains wanting to get into real estate and house flipping for the Airbnb market. There’s no doubt about it—Whitney is single-handedly building an empire and the sky truly is the limit for her. She hopes to be a one-stop shop for all sorts of needs from beauty and skincare to wigs to real estate and maybe even the wedding industry someday. Whichever direction Whitney Walker goes next she’s sure to create magic in every space she commands.

Beauty Bar by Whitney

624 Main Ave Suite 9, Fargo, ND 58103
Facebook: @beautybarfargo

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