A dollhouse in Cornelius? Sounds like a bit of a stretch. But for customers of Casey Nelson’s Dollface Skin & Makeup Lounge – in a dollhouse of a building on Zion Avenue – her decision to settle in the Lake Norman area last year has been nothing short of a blessing.“Casey made me feel absolutely beautiful on my wedding day,” says 24-year-old Molly Jones of Charlotte, who was married last summer at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens in Belmont. “She brought out an enhanced version of myself and really made me feel like a woman.” Compliments such as Jones’s are music to Casey Nelson’s ears, since weddings are her specialty. How she decided on a career as an aesthetician –one who deals with pleasing of appearance – and ultimately brought her trade to Cornelius is a story unto itself.It all started when she experienced what so many teens do: an acne attack. “I was in middle school and broke out with pubescent acne,” Nelson said. “My mom didn’t want her children to have acne scaring later in life so she immediately took me to the dermatologist and put me on Accutane. I’ve been obsessed with good skin ever since.” Expanding that skin care to makeup came during her high school years when her mom took her to the Clinique counter. “After she bought me all new makeup, it became truly my passion. Even in high school I was always doing friends makeup for proms and nights out.”Upon graduation, she enrolled at the Aveda Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. It was a dual program of esthetics and massage therapy but Nelson chose not to get her license for massage. “I wasn’t too interested in that part but I’m very glad I learned it because I incorporate it into facials to help clients relax as much as possible.”Nelson, 30, an Atlanta native, and her business partner, Lauren Nichols, originally started their business in south Charlotte, at a small studio in Sola Salons. However, because of the limited space, only one of them could work at a time. On a whim, they found on Craigslist the 560-square-foot house just south of Mount Zion United Methodist Church. After some $10,000 in renovations, the “dollhouse” opened last spring with their Dollface lounge.Nelson loves their location. “You have the cute little shops on Catawba Avenue and the little bakeries and coffee shops. We felt we would fit right in.”Nelson lives in the nearby Antiquity neighborhood.They were also fortunate to have an owner who was willing to allow some major renovations. “When we first looked at the house there were no doorways between each room,” Nelson said. “The owner allowed Lauren’s husband, who used to work in carpentry, to build two walls and doorways so we could have three separate rooms: Two aesthetics rooms and a lounge. That really helped keep our move-in expenses down.” Some personalities have already used their services. Brittany Kerr, a former Charlotte Bobcats cheerleader who auditioned for “American Idol” last year and made it through to the L.A. auditions, used Nelson as an aesthetician. Another recent customer was Erica Enders-Stevens, of the NHRA drag racing series, who finished fourth in the Pro Stock 2012 competition.While Nelson enjoys working with everyone, well-known or not, it is weddings that give her the most satisfaction: “To know that I’ve made a bride feel beautiful on one of the most important days of her life is the most rewarding feeling.”She does that well, according to photographer Sarah McGraw: “She makes sure the final look reflects each girl’s personality, desired look and comfort level with makeup. It’s so fun to see these ladies transform and with that, display the confidence they need in front of the camera. She creates magic.”That “magic” includes a whole package of makeup options designed especially for the bride and her bridal party. They also offer a wide array of facials, waxing and tinting services.Nelson credits her partner with helping the business succeed. “Lauren is my best friend,” she said. “I’ve learned so much from her as she’s been in the business longer than I have and she helped me build the confidence to go out on our own together.”Soon to celebrate their first anniversary in the Lake Norman area, Nelson and Nichols feel both very confident that relocating to downtown Cornelius was the right move.So do their clients. “I absolutely love going to see Casey,” said Katherine Morris, 47, a regular facial customer from the University City area. “Her facials rejuvenate my skin and the sessions are very relaxing. With my sensitive skin, I am a loyal customer of Casey’s.”
Monday, Feb. 11, 2013
Makeup lounge thrives in Cornelius ‘dollhouse’
The tiny Dollface Skin & Makeup Lounge tries to help women look their best
Dollface is located in a dollhouse of a location -- a cozy 560-square-foot building just south of Mount Zion United Methodist Church. (Photo by Dave Vieser)
Casey Nelson (left, with her business partner Lauren Nichols ) operate Dollface Skin & Makeup Lounge – in a dollhouse of a building on Zion Avenue in Cornelius. (Dave Vieser photo)
Learn more: Dollface Skin & Makeup Lounge, 19428 Zion Ave., Cornelius, is open by appointment only, Tuesday-Saturdays; closed Sundays and Mondays. Information: Casey Nelson, 704-996-5605 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Lauren Nichols, 704-264-4085; Nichols.Lauren@hotmail.com.