Photos by Collin Richie

The Creatives: Aesthetician and Blume Beauty Bar owner Melba Nguyen


Hometown: Da Nang, Vietnam
Age: 28
Artistry: Aesthetician and owner, Blume Beauty Bar

The first question Melba Nguyen would get while working in her family’s nail salon was often an affectionately curious “So, how old are you?”

She would fib and say 16, but the creative entrepreneur who immigrated to Baton Rouge from Vietnam as a toddler began assisting her sister’s staff at Teresa’s Nails with manicures and pedicures when she was just 11.

Graduating from nails to makeup while working in salons as a teen, Nguyen has always wanted to be in the beauty industry. “To help someone to feel better, to feel more beautiful—that’s all I ever wanted to do,” says the now 28-year-old aesthetician.

After graduating from Broadmoor High School, she lived a stint in Virginia while gigging at New York Fashion Week and for splashy photo shoots in L.A., often for little or no pay at the start. She spent countless hours connecting with models and photographers online and offering her services as a makeup assistant just to get her foot on the proverbial runway before building up her own fiercely loyal client base—a clientele that in some cases travels half a day to see her now at her Blume Beauty Bar in Prairieville. Some have undergone chemotherapy and others have alopecia, so the simple art of giving them eyebrows is an act of restoring their confidence.

“Seeing that change in them is so rewarding,” Nguyen says.

A full-service salon with a calming, casual atmosphere, Blume opened almost five years ago with two employees. Now with a staff of 15, Nguyen plans to travel a half-dozen times in 2020 to lead workshops on microblading.

Her first few years as a business owner were a huge challenge for the artist and single mom. Nguyen slept an average of three hours a night, she guesses. But her passion for her artistry kept her going.

“I’m obsessed with my work, so even on days off I’m always looking for ways I can improve or things I can learn,” she says. “If you do that, that’ll set you apart in your industry, no matter what you do.”

From being able to perform every service on her menu to knowing how to fix the lights and building her own social media following, Nguyen took on a lot when she took out a small business loan to launch Blume. She didn’t have the budget to delegate at the time, but she recognizes that this dexterity made her a better entrepreneur.

“Knowing how to do everything and being willing to do everything is so important,” Nguyen says. “It will make you a leader and not just a boss.”