Q&A with with Ashley Craig: Nurse, cosmetologist, and owner of Make Mi Gorgeous

After graduating from Northside High School in 2007 and becoming a cosmetologist through Anthis Beauty School, Ashley Craig moved to Indianapolis to pursue another dream of hers– becoming a nurse.

“I always wanted to be a nurse,” says Craig. “Those were the two things I was like that’s what I want to do, so I just pursued them and I did it.”

Ashley Craig, owner of Make Mi GorgeousA few years ago, Craig moved back to Fort Wayne to be closer to her family, but is still pursuing both those dreams. She works full-time as a nurse and is simultaneously running her own business, Make Mi Gorgeous LLC, and working on her nonprofit, Make Mi Gorgeous Inc.

Make Mi Gorgeous LLC specializes in handmade custom units, selling wigs and hair extensions to customers from all over the globe. 

Craig’s nonprofit, Make Mi Gorgeous, provides custom-made wigs for cancer patients. Taking measurements of their head and referencing old photos, Craig creates a wig similar to the hair the patient had before cancer treatments.

Craig also has an NPI (national provider identification) number, meaning eligible customers can have the cost of their units billed to insurance. 

While she is remarkably busy, Craig says it's all worth it to see the outcome. “I like the outcome– how people feel after it's done,” she says. “You also get to know people and they’re happy.”

Input Fort Wayne sat down with Ashley Craig to learn more about her business and the inspiration behind her work.

IFW: You’re a registered nurse, a licensed cosmetologist, and a certified trichologist. Can you tell us how your career path took you to all of those stops?

AC: I was born and raised here in Fort Wayne. I went to Northside High School. I graduated in 2007. I went to Anthis Beauty School for Cosmetology. After that, I moved to Indianapolis, where I got my nursing degree at the end of 2012. Then I worked as a nurse.

I always wanted to be a nurse– those were the two things I was like that’s what I want to do, so I just pursued it and I did it.

This year, about 5 months ago, I earned my credentials in trichology. Trichology is in between a dermatologist and a cosmetologist. That’s where I can help people with alopecia and dermatitis and stuff like that. It was beneficial for me because when people come and sit down and they don’t know why they’re balding or why they're losing their hair, or have different scalp issues, I’m not the person to say, “I don't know.” I need to figure it out. Now, I have a little knowledge on the underlying and I can guide them in the right direction. 

It all goes hand in hand. Being knowledgeable about the services– I just love it. I want to be able to guide them in a direction. 

IFW: What inspired you to start Make Mi Gorgeous Inc., your nonprofit?

AC: I was at work one day, at the nursing home, and one of the women said, “I love your hair. It looks so natural.” 

She was going through chemo and complaining that she didn’t know where to get natural wigs from. The wigs they were offering were looking synthetic and weren’t realistic so she didn’t like them. I made her one and after that, I was like you know what, I could do that.

I officially began my nonprofit when I moved back here almost two and half years ago, which is Make Mi Gorgeous Inc. With that, we make wigs for cancer patients. We give them a makeover. They come in for a consultation and then I look at pictures of them before they lost their hair and I try to create a wig that is similar to what their hair looked like before they lost their hair. We have a makeup artist come in and a videographer and they’re able to tell their story and their journey about how they survived cancer.

IFW: How did you come up with the name of your business?
AC: I didn’t know what to name my business, honestly. I was talking to one of my homegirls on the phone and I was just brainstorming with her, just bringing different ideas out. I told her I like making people gorgeous and she said,  “We should name it ‘Make Me Gorgeous’ but change the “me” to “mi” like in Spanish.” That’s how we came up with that, it was just a phone conversation.

IFW: How would you describe your brand’s aesthetic? 
AC: Gorgeous! Everything I make I  try to make it look good because people nowadays like to look good and feel good and feel expensive, but not pay so much. I try to make that happen.

IFW: Can you tell us about how you make your units?

AC: The quality of the hair and the lace make the unit. I test all the hair out for about a year and a half before I start selling it to people. I color it and don’t take good care of it– cause some people don’t take care of hair, so you have to kind of have a product that’s well rounded for people when they spend their money. It lasts really for people who take good care of their care and people who don’t take so good care, it still lasts a nice amount of time.

I took a sewing class, so all the units are custom-made on the sewing machine. I make them. 
For the clients of my nonprofit, I take the measurements of the head and then use a canvas and recreate their hair. I sew it with a sewing machine so it will fit really good to their head, so they don’t have to put any adhesive or any type of glue if they don’t want to. Sometimes after chemo, the skin is irritatable with different things like glue or gels. I try to make it as little work as possible. They can just put it on and take it off. 

IFW: The units you make are sold to customers across the world. How did you create an international customer base?
AC: The internet, of course. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, also our website and email ads. Hashtags helped too. With the wig making and with the cancer patients, I have an NPI number, which is a long application to fill out. I had to submit my credentials. I had to submit my nursing credentials as well as my cosmetology. I also submitted my trichology. That makes me a national provider for wigs for everybody, even if they have alopecia, hair loss, blood pressure hair loss, genetic hair loss– just any type of hair loss. 

IFW: While running your hair business, you still work full-time as a nurse. How do you manage your time?
AC: It gets really hectic at times. It gets really busy around events and the holiday season. You feel like you need an assistant to help but they have some apps and stuff nowadays. I switched some stuff over, like not doing all the booking myself. I use a booking app, so that helps a lot with the scheduling. It’s a lot.

I try to do one client a day after my nursing job because I do have a son who is six, so I can’t be gone too long. I usually get home around 8 or 9 o’clock. I do one head a day after work during the week. Then, I try to pick up on the weekends when it gets busy, but there are definitely slow times as well. 

IFW: What resources have helped you succeed as a business owner?

AC: SEED– I did that a couple of months ago. I really liked it. It was informational and I made connections with a bunch of different people in the community and with different resources. If I have any questions about anything, like making sure my business plan is up to date, or getting funding, SEED helped.
I’m also doing a leadership class every month with the Foellinger Foundation. That’s helping out a lot. You learn how to be a leader and run a business. You learn different ways you talk and communicate with people. You get to know yourself as a leader because you have to know yourself, like your strengths and weaknesses. They teach us how to recognize other people's strengths and weaknesses so as a leader you can capitalize on their strengths so they can be at their best potential.

This story is made possible by SEED.
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Read more articles by Brittany Smith.

Brittany Smith is Input Fort Wayne's Managing Editor. Previously she served as Assistant Editor and participated in the College Input Program. She also volunteers for Northeast Indiana Public Radio.