MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There is beauty in rarity. Any beauty worth having is a beauty worth valuing. “It takes an oyster or almost seven years to actually form a true black pearl,” said Duriya Caldwell, Black Pearl Academy owner and Executive Director. “Sometimes it takes time for us to form our perfect point of perfection. That’s what a black pearl does.”
The Black Pearl Nail Academy is located in Whitehaven. “It is the first full-service manicure school in the state of Tennessee,” said Caldwell. “What makes us different than all of the other nail schools is that we provide all things under the discipline of nails and manicuring in the state of Tennessee meaning we can provide traditional licensure.”
That would not have been possible years ago. In 2013, Tennessee passed a law allowing free-standing schools for cosmetology disciplines. “Let’s separate the disciplines and allow the disciplines to be taught separately,” said Caldwell. After the bill passed, Caldwell began working to open her school not only shaping the future of nail techs, particularly Black nail techs, but also focusing on business, financial literacy, and mentorship.
“Memphis is going to get a rush. Well, it’s getting a rush of Black nail techs,” said Caldwell. “This is not just polishing nails. This is really being concerned about the healthcare and nail care of the community.”
Caldwell saw, first-hand, the impacts of looking and feeling polished.
“Black women come in and kind of look a little disheveled, had a hard week. Then, on that Saturday morning, have their nails done, hair done. Baby walks out with a whole different perception on life. Everything is okay. Everything is going to be alright. That’s what I wanted to be a part of,” said Caldwell. That is the beauty her school’s rarity brings.
The Black Pearl Nail Academy will also be expanding soon opening Whitehaven’s first salon nail suite. It will also provide opportunities for teens and men to develop their nail tech skills.