East Passyunk: Dana Persia Helps Clients Feel Beautiful on Their Wedding Day

Dana Persia has always been a big fan of makeup. In high school, people would always ask her to do their makeup. She knew that she wanted to be her own boss, and finally achieved this goal in 2008 when she founded her company, Beautiful Brides Philly.

“I come to this business with a business background, a college degree, and a passion for beauty,” Persia said. 

Beautiful Brides Philly, located at 1613 E. Passyunk Ave., focuses on makeup and hair with the ultimate goal of eliminating stress during what can be a very stressful day. 

Persia is always trying to make sure everyone is happy, said Lindsay Narz, who hired Beautiful Brides for her wedding. 

It was “everything you would wish for as a bride,” she said. “My entire experience with them was excellent. My hair turned out exactly how I imagined it. I’ve been asked several times since my wedding about who did my hair and makeup on my big day.”

Persia’s business has grown to include a staff of 16 certified, experienced hair stylists and makeup artists who typically do 150 weddings a year as well as parties, anniversaries and other special events. 

“Working with Dana is great,” said Carmela Carabello, a makeup artist who has worked at the studio since 2012. “She’s a motivator, a mentor, a hustler and wants to see the girls—her girls—succeed.” 

Doing hair and makeup for weddings takes a lot of time and effort. As a lead makeup artist, Carabello is with the bride for the entire process. Assistants help when needed and with larger bridal parties.

“You build a rapport, find out her likes and dislikes and if she’s unsure, you have the ability to lead in her the right direction with assurance and expertise,” Carabello said. “You more or less gently guide them to their vision. You take notes to make sure her day will go as planned and is perfect like the trial.”

Persia graduated from Rutgers University with an English degree and briefly took a job at a magazine in New York City. She quickly realized an office setting wasn’t for her, so she moved back to Philadelphia and enrolled in a creative-writing program at Temple University with the goal of getting her master’s degree. But she ultimately decided to follow her passion and enrolled in the Jean Madeline Aveda Institute beauty school. After graduation, Persia worked in a number of salons and spas as an aesthetician.

“The problem was after having a corporate career, and having benefits and a salary, working in a spa is not the most lucrative,” Persia said.

In 2008, Persia decided to take the leap and start her own studio. For the first two years, Beautiful Brides Philly was in the basement of Persia’s South Philadelphia home before she had enough business to move to its current location on East Passyunk Avenue.

She said that while running this business has its positives, like being your own boss and helping people destress during their special day, there are negatives as well. The high stress of working in the wedding business is always there, because one bad review or false move could do damage to a business, creating financial uncertainty, Persia said. 

“A downside is the financial uncertainty, especially being in a service business,” Persia said. “It’s tough, especially if you’re a single person and you don’t have a support system financially.” 

Despite these challenges, Persia said she wouldn’t want to do anything else 

“I love being my own boss, she said. “It’s the best feeling in the world to build something from nothing.”

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