Shamika Rainer has never met a challenge she couldn’t stare down.
In fact, when asked to describe what she does for a living, she exclaimed proudly, “I’m an entrepreneur. And a trailblazer.”
If only we all knew how to summon such confidence.
At 33, Rainer is a hairstylist and owner of Luxurious Hair Spa, located at 1464 Central Ave. It’s a business she opened in 2015. Prior to that, she owned and operated Mi Amour Salon in Dubuque, after graduating and teaching for a time at Capri College.
Rainer said she was quick in wanting to defy her mentors, warning her that developing a new business right out of the gate wasn’t as easy as it looked.
However, Rainer had other ideas.
“I’m hard-headed,” she said, with a laugh. “If you tell me ‘no,’ I think, ‘You mean not today? OK. So, tomorrow.’ When I’m running, I’m never looking at the spectators. I only see the finish line.”
Rainer’s fearless drive, coupled with her infectious spirit, are qualities she claims she has always had.
Finding new ground
A native of Chicago, Rainer relocated to Dubuque when she was 18 to attend the University of Dubuque. With a 5-month-old in tow, she worked hard to put herself through school, pay the rent and make the best of her situation.
It wasn’t long before the desire to ultimately own a salon took hold. So, she set her sights on enrolling at Capri.
“Once I put my mind to something, that’s it,” Rainer said. “I just knew.”
Seeing a need in the community for a salon that caters to all hair types — including black hair, which she called “a passion” — Rainer also developed and launched a hair care line called Luxurious Hair Care.
“When I couldn’t find a product that did what I needed it to do, I just made my own,” Rainer said. “It’s so people can have that luxurious salon feel at home.”
Empowering the next generation
When not running her business or mixing her hair care line, Rainer also is the founder of Little Luxuries Girls Club in Dubuque.
With the organization, she mentors girls in grades 4-10 at the Multicultural Family Center, doing everything from cooking to crafting and community service projects in order to serve as an older influential figure, as well as encourage younger women to serve others and make positive contributions within the community.
According to its mission, Little Luxuries aims to be “a safe place for girls to feel free to be themselves” and to “empower, inspire and mentor girls to live a life full of power, enabling good decision-making for purpose and value through positive information and different cultural experiences.”
It’s something Rainer said she believes helps not only fuel the next generation of young women but also continues bridging the gap in diversity within the community.
“The way I see it, you can either put up or shut up,” she said. “I felt that I needed to be the change that I wanted to see in Dubuque. The goal is to mold these young ladies into purpose-driven, confident, successful women, who recognize there is value in all that they do.”
Drawing comparisons from her beauty industry, Rainer explained that while Dubuque has moved in a positive direction when it comes to diversity, there remains work to be done.
“I feel as though sometimes Dubuque has only done the surface work and put the makeup on,” she said. “It hasn’t prepped the skin. And you need to do that before you apply the makeup. You need to be out there, doing the work. You can’t just look the part. You have to be the part.”
Drawing from faith
In addition to wanting to set a good example for young women, as well as her children — ages 12 and 15 — Rainer also draws upon her faith to fuel her vivacious personality.
“I get it through praying, girl,” she said. “I’m a person of God. Wisdom and all the things I do and say comes from prayer. If you’re not praying, you’re wasting all the good things God gives you. Return to sender.”
As for what the future holds for Rainer, she’s fairly certain she’ll be a millionaire. Just give her time. And don’t underestimate her.
“Like I said, not today?” Rainer said. “OK. Then, tomorrow.”
Megan Gloss is the Features Editor for the Telegraph Herald.