Two decades ago, Nicole Watson-Lam opened the Quad Cities’ first Black-owned beauty store after being mistreated at another local shop.
ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Editor’s note: In honor of Women’s History Month, “Her Impact Ignites” is a series celebrating women for their continued work in the community.
In local communities, barbershops or salons can feel like family. When you go inside, you feel welcomed.
For over two decades, Nicole Watson-Lam has been making people feel at home when they stop by her beauty supply store, Ms. BriMani’s Hair & Beauty Supply. You might have heard of it from its catchy radio jingle: “Ms. BriMani’s got it.”
Watson-Lam said she opened the store, named after her daughters BriAnna and Imani, after being mistreated at another local beauty store 23 years ago.
“I was just kind of curious as to the number of people have who have already experienced that type of treatment,” Watson-Lam said. “Come to find out, there was an actual market for Black-owned beauty supply in our own neighborhood. And that’s kind of how Ms. BriMani’s was born.”
Her store was the first Black-owned beauty supply store in the Quad Cities area.
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She started her business to create a place where women of color could receive the type of customer service they deserved and the “know-how” to care for and maintain their hair.
In the process of providing these services, her mission was also to promote Black entrepreneurship within the Quad Cities. Her store partners with local stylists and vendors to give them the opportunity to launch their own dreams just like she did.
For most of its history, Ms. BriMani’s has done just that at its location on 11th Street in Rock Island. In November 2019, the business upgraded to a larger building in the District of Rock Island.
“It’s become almost a family, the Quad Cities is already really small. And so, you get to know people on a personal level,” Watson-Lam said. “The beauty industry is one of those where it’s so much more than just surface … When you look good, you feel good.”
If you’d like to shop or even have your beauty product line at Ms. BriMani’s Hair & Beauty Supply, visit the store located at 1709 2nd Avenue in Rock Island.
“Prayerfully (there) could be (a) Ms. BriMani’s at every corner nationwide, like you would see a Sally’s but for us, by us,” she said.
Learn more about the store’s products and services here.