By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
Baltimore native Keiarna Stewart has never worked in anything other than the beauty industry At age 13, she took a job at her godmother’s hair salon, and just four years later she obtained a cosmetology license.
Beauty was the only thing Stewart ever knew, as well as her passion, and she decided to open her own shop, K. Stewart The Salon, in 2012. For 10 years, her salon has specialized in providing premium hair extensions, and through the course of the pandemic, it has been one of the only businesses to survive on its street.
Soon, Stewart will have a second business under her belt. K. Stewart Beauty and Wellness Spa is set to open in Harbor East before the end of the year. It will be the first Black woman-owned medical spa in the neighborhood, and for Stewart, this venture has been a long time coming.
About 8 years ago, Stewart experienced the death of her fiance. While grieving, friends and family constantly reminded her to tend to her mental health and wellness. Stewart’s confidence was completely depleted after losing the love of her life, so she began doing aesthetic treatments and having spa days to make herself feel better.
The entrepreneur thought if aesthetics helped her to heal, they could also help others in their wellness journey. Especially in the midst of the pandemic, Stewart wants to ensure that her business can remind women, especially those of color, to preserve their emotional well-being.
“I think now more than ever, we’re seeing how important it is for us to take care of ourselves,” said Stewart. “Beauty is always an inside out thing.”
All of the services at K. Stewart Beauty and Wellness Spa will be administered by licensed practitioners and nurses and include IV hydration, microneedling, chemical peels and weight loss management.
As a Black female entrepreneur, Stewart faced personal trials while trying to secure a location for the new spa. She originally wanted to open in Federal Hill, but after expressing interest in a potential location, no one got back to her for a month.
She reached back out and learned that the building owner assumed she would not be able to afford running a medical spa on her own. Stewart was deflated, especially because she never provided the owner with a financial portfolio.
“He just knew that this type of business is a multi-billion dollar industry that normally Caucasians do or physicians who’ve been in business for a very long time do,” said Stewart. “Normally, when you see a medical wellness center, it’s because it’s by a very established practitioner, not a young 33-year-old Black girl who is having fun in beauty.”
The rebuff did not stop Stewart from searching for another location though. When she landed on Harbor East, she acquired a space that was better than the one she was initially interested in.
With her new business, Stewart hopes she can help women of color reclaim their self worth and understand that their personal wellbeing is what’s most important.
“I want to make sure that when people come to Baltimore, they come for the K experience, and that’s something that I’ve been working on my whole entire career,” said Stewart.
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