Madam Vivian Smith Nash was a pioneer in the beauty industry and a champion of her students. As someone who wanted to highlight the natural beauty of Black community, she founded Bee-Dew Beauty Laboratories (originally named Luxuro Beauty School) in 1933, followed by the Bee-Dew Beauty College and Bee-Dew Beauty Shop. Her college was noted to have “the largest enrollment of its kind” in the state of Michigan (Baltimore Afro-American, 19) until her retirement in 1968. It served hundreds African American students in beauty training and ensured their education was affordable and a success. Nash often accompanied her students at events where they received accolades for their skill in cosmetology such as the Leo Morris Annual Hair Show in 1942. Moreover, Nash’s company employed thousands of African Americans, who manufactured over 50 of her products. Her company was said to have a support base of approximately 150,000 people in and outside of the U.S. Madam Nash was also a member of the NAACP and the Booker T. Washington Trade Association, in which she received an award for “Most Oustanding Businesswoman” in 1940 (Ibid., 23).
“Achievement Awarded,” The Baltimore Afro-American, May 11, 1940, p. 23.
“Bee Dew Leads Again”, The Baltimore Afro-American. February 7, 1942, p. 9.
“Detroit Cosmetic Company Doing Rushing Business,” The Baltimore Afro-American, April 04, 1942, p. 19.
“Graduating Class of Bee-Dew College: Hundreds At Bee-Dew Graduation Exercises” The Norfolk Journal and Guide, Nov 11, 1941, p. 6.
“New Home of Beauty” The Baltimore Afro-American. Feb 13, 1937, p. 14.
“Vivian Hill; ran beauty school,” Detroit Free Press, October 13, 1980, p. 19.