Black-led Community Spotlight: LaReese Crawford of Prestige Beauty Lounge | Community Profile | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Black-led Community Spotlight: LaReese Crawford of Prestige Beauty Lounge

click to enlarge LaReese Crawford, owner of Prestige Beauty Lounge - CP PHOTO: LAKE LEWIS
CP Photo: Lake Lewis
LaReese Crawford, owner of Prestige Beauty Lounge
LaReese Crawford always knew she wanted a salon of her own one day. While she was working in other boutiques around town, she would admire the women owners who had started their own businesses. Then, this May, at just 23 years old, her dreams came true when she opened Prestige Beauty Lounge in Morningside.

“I love the neighborhood I'm in,” says Crawford. “I love my clients, I love the environment that I have created in my salon.”

Crawford, from the West End of Pittsburgh, graduated from Urban Pathways Charter School in Downtown Pittsburgh in 2016, and then attended Empire Beauty School in the North Hills.

While her salon is based in Morningside, Crawford says her clientele comes from all over. At Prestige, you can get your natural nails painted with a solid color or a cool design, an acrylic set with gel polish, or a Swarovski full set. In terms of hair, you can get a traditional sew in, blowouts, and more.

For Crawford, getting into the beauty business was a no brainer. She started doing hair for friends and family when she was only in the ninth grade, and explored hair design while still in middle school.

“I always did my sister's hair and people at school,” she says. “I would bring brushes and combs to school and do people's hair in the bathroom. Then when I went to beauty school, I got interested in nails as well. So now I do both, but it's always been something that just stuck with me.”

Starting a business is no easy feat, and it's even harder when you’re only 23.

“I wanted something to be mine,” she says. “You know, it's like a baby without having a baby. So when I looked for a place, I found it, and I just knew instantly it's time to venture off and get a little uncomfortable for some exciting change. And I think it was nervous excitement at first, but now it's just all uphill. I'm just super excited, too.”

Crawford says creating an environment where people can feel welcome and be their best selves is an important part of owning her business. She says some salons create a feel where you have to “sit with your legs crossed” and look proper, and that’s not the kind of atmosphere she wants for her clients. At Prestige, Crawford wants you to have a sip of wine, put on the music you like, and relax.

Starting her business came with its own set of challenges and sacrifices, especially since she opened during a pandemic. Crawford says getting the state board to inspect the salon before it could open posed a problem, as everything was still shut down during the process, so things kept getting pushed back and delayed. Getting financial backing was also a struggle.

Then, she says there was the added pressure of keeping up with rapidly changing beauty trends and the expenses that come with that.

“Working at somebody else's salon, you're using the product that they buy,” says Crawford. “Now, it's like, ‘OK, I'm on my own.’ So I have to buy my own product, and I have the rent to pay, and the lights to keep on. So it was definitely a lot. It was teaching me how to financially be responsible.”

Crawford says because she is only 23 and wanted to start her own business, she had to sit back and not participate in a lot of the things her peers were doing for fun. When others her age were out partying, she was planning for her future.

Despite these challenges and sacrifices, Crawford has found great success in an ever-shifting and often difficult field. When you visit the website for Prestige Beauty Lounge, you are inundated with five-star reviews.

Beauty is personal to Crawford, as someone who struggled with self-esteem and insecurities herself. Her favorite thing about what she does is helping others feel beautiful and more like themselves, but she also benefits from the environment she has created.

“When I give out advice on how to love yourself, I'm talking to myself as well, because I have gone through those things,” says Crawford. “So it's a two-way street.”

Prestige Beauty Lounge. 1710 Jancey St., Morningside. and

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