NAFISAH’S BEAUTY BOUTIQUE, 4035 Lake Boone Trail, Raleigh, 919-943-9954

Growing up with an entrepreneur mother, Nafisah Carter was raised in an environment where business-minded women were the norm. The Durham native spent many nights and weekends assisting her mother with her jewelry-and-accessories kiosk at Crabtree Valley Mall, developing her affinity for all things hair related. After getting a firsthand look at how hair can change someone’s entire look and, in turn, their lifestyle, Carter found her calling. She moved to New York and worked at the famed Rita Hazan Salon, which has counted the likes of Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez among its clients, where Carter personally worked with stars like R&B singer Tinashe and actor Debbie Allen. But now she’s brought her talents back to North Carolina, where she opened Nafisah’s Beauty Boutique in Raleigh. We reached her by phone while she was traveling in Australia to talk about growing her business, her favorite celebrity encounter, and the latest hair trends she sees here in the Triangle.

INDY: When did you get into the hair business?

NAFISAH CARTER: My cousin had a salon, and I would shampoo clients, answer the phone, and just do whatever she needed. I realized that people were making a lot of money. I graduated from Dudley Beauty College [in Durham], and I knew that I wanted to do celebrity hair. So I moved to NYC and worked for the Rita Hazan Salon because it was a popular salon among celebrities. Upon returning to N.C., I opened my own studio.

How did Durham influence your work?

I was born in Jersey but moved to N.C. as a baby. My mother owned a hair-accessories company based in Raleigh but would often travel back to New York City to source her items. So, although I grew up in Durham, I was familiar with NYC from making trips with my mom. I adjusted really fast to the NYC lifestyle, because you have no choice!

How did you mom’s entrepreneurship journey influence you?

My mom and dad both were entrepreneurs, and we would help out as kids. She would show us how to set up and tell us about the product, but I really didn’t know, as a child, that I was learning from that. I just thought it was fun. Rita was another influence, working for her in NYC, because I saw her traveling and working with celebrities.

What’s one of your favorite celebrity-encounter stories?

Debbie Allen stands out so much to me because I am blown away by her! When I did her hair, she was so nice and welcoming and fun. I just love her. A lot of times, people who are in the spotlight don’t have a lot of time to be personable, but she was just laughing and warm.

What are you seeing as trends for hair in the Triangle area?

The trend right now is sleek, shiny bobs. Hair parted down the middle as well. Bobs really never go out of style; they just change a little bit and come right back. Beach waves—messy effortless hair—are still in and probably won’t go anywhere for a while. The big nineties supermodel hairstyle is out. Different variations of ponytails are also popular.


Deep, warm colors—plums and deep reds are great for fall.

What about new treatments and technologies?

I specialize in hair extensions, and that is so in right now. I am constantly getting calls about hair extensions. A lot of people are doing wigs as well, but I see that fading away soon. I choose which is better for that client based on their lifestyle. Extensions look more natural, and wigs can look more dramatic. Wigs are fun and great for television and film, but if you’re using glue on your hairline, they can be damaging to your natural hair.

If someone wants to upgrade their look, what’s the first thing they can do?

The first thing would be a great cut followed up with color. But, of course, I have to recommend hair extensions, because that’s what I do all day every day, and I see the transformations it creates. I have a lot of people who come to me who have never had extensions before, and, afterwards, they feel so glamorous.

After the initial install of extensions, how frequently are you seeing your clients?

Every six to eight weeks for the extensions and biweekly visits for shampooing and conditioning. In between, I recommend minimizing heat on the hair. I always tell my clients to only use heat once a week and to secure a satin scarf before sleeping at night.

Tell us about the name of your hair line.

I started with Indian hair, and the name Pyara means “lovely” in Hindi. Now I’m sourcing hair from India, Peru, and Brazil. I have developed relationships with my vendors virtually, and I’m excited to visit them soon. It’s almost like we’ve become friends because I’m known them for so long.

Tell us about your current trip to Australia, where I’m reaching you now.

Black Hair Australia started because they realized that people in Australia with highly textured hair did not have resources like we have in America to care for their hair. I’ll spend one week in Sydney and one week in Melbourne serving women from all over Australia. I met a lady during this trip who hadn’t had her hair done in seven years. It’s very touching, and everyone is very thankful.

Correction: This story originally misidentified Carter’s mother’s jewelry-and-accessories kiosk as a hair-accessories kiosk.