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Makeup artist Jami Svay grows business with franchise
Owner of Idolize Brows and Beauty Huntersville
Published Thursday, October 15, 2020 10:50 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Sam (left) and Jami Svay, owner of Idolize Brows and Beauty Huntersville.

Jami Svay found a way to grow in a year designed to test the soul.

Svay has been a makeup artist for 18 years, doing everything from magazine and catalogue photo shoots to movies and television to fashion weeks with clientele that typically consists of celebrities and models. Then her husband Sam Svay encouraged her to take a leap of faith in a different direction by opening a spa for the everyday person, a space where anyone could come in and get pampered.

Svay’s friend Mo Pandoria founded Idolize Brows and Beauty in Charlotte in 2009 and began franchise development in 2016. Svay and Pandoria already had a working relationship. Svay had been a customer for years to get her brows done, and Pandoria was a client of hers as makeup artist for his in-store promotions.

“When he offered the opportunity to franchise, my husband was like, ‘that’s a great idea, you should open up one of those spas,’” Svay said.

They began working on a plan to open a franchise location in 2019. Construction began in January, and everything looked great. Then COVID-19 hit like a sucker punch to the gut.
“Construction had to stop,” Svay said.

They finally opened Idolize Brows and Beauty Huntersville (9826 Gilead Road C-108) in July.

“A lot of people were like, ‘why did you open during a pandemic?’” Svay said. “I didn’t mean to.  We had no choice but to move forward because we already had the lease, and we had already begun construction.”

While Phase 2 of reopening North Carolina began in May allowed for the reopening of personal care businesses, Svay opted to wait. Opening a new business is one thing but opening during a pandemic adds additional pressure. When the doors finally did open, it was difficult.

“It was rough,” Svay said. “It was really, really hard letting people know that there was a new business and letting people know that it was OK once they got here. It was really hard, but my husband and I, we pushed forward. The first month I was like, ‘what did we do? This is such a mistake,’ but we have been steadily growing with our clients. Our staff has grown a little. We started off with three people, and now we have five.”

She continues to press on for her family, as her son Sean Svay works at the front desk.

Svay, a graduate of Northwest School of the Arts, is the first Black female owner of an Idolize Brows and Beauty franchise. She knows people are watching her as an entrepreneur.

“I know a lot of people are looking at me,” said Svay, whose business caught the attention of Good Morning America last month. “Some are looking at me to fail. Some are looking at me as inspiration. I am pressing forward to prove that I can do it. That sometimes wakes you up in the middle of the night—to prove a point. I’m not being vindictive or mean, but like I said, there are a lot of people looking, but for those who are inspired by what we’ve done, I’m waking up every day and pushing forward for them, to give them hope. If I don’t succeed it may trigger them to say, ‘well if she couldn’t do it, then I can’t either.’ If I do succeed, it’s a win for all, because I’ve just inspired those people to say, ‘if she can do it, well I’m going to try it too.’”

Svay’s journey began at Modern Salon at Phillips Place in SouthPark. A photographer came into the salon after being stood up by their makeup artist, saying, “I need a makeup artist. I’m doing a photo shoot for a magazine. I need a makeup artist now.” Svay did the shoot and realized she loved the experience.

“I just remember being on set, completely nervous and I was doing makeup for the model, and I was like, ‘I could do this forever,” she said. “This is what I want my life to be.’ “I remember that day and looking up every photographer in the area, and calling them saying, ‘hey, do you need a makeup artist?’ I started a website.”

Svay worked with HGTV’s “The Property Brothers,” Tamela Mann, Natalie Grant and Jon Stewart.

When the Democratic National Convention came to Charlotte in 2012, she worked with visiting mayors and other political figures.

“I’ve been able to have some of the most amazing opportunities,” she said. “I remember the Property Brothers came to town and they were doing a collaboration with Lowe’s and they needed makeup for a TV appearance. That was the first time my sons ever thought I was cool. I’m typically working on mayors and people that they don’t really know. I remember putting the Property Brothers on my Instagram, and I came home, and my sons were like, ‘Mom, why didn’t you tell me that you were working on ‘The Property Brothers.’ I was like, ‘you care?’ And he said, ‘Mom, it’s ‘The Property Brothers,’ I watch them all the time.’ The career has just given me wonderful opportunities.”


I am so very proud of Jami and Sam. They worked really hard for this and they enjoy any and all success that comes their way. They deserve it! Keep up the great work guys!
Posted on October 16, 2020

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