Blog - Candice Motley |
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February marks 4 years since my mommy makeover. I get a lot of questions from other women about my experience so I thought I’d take a moment to answer ALL your biggest questions.

A little bit of backstory first… I had my two babies back to back. I had Kingston and then at my postpartum appointment I was told I was pregnant with my second child, Houston. I gained 60 pounds with King, and wasn’t really able to lose weight knowing my body was getting ready to make another baby. I tried to get as much off—safely—as I could. Then, after having Houston, I could tell a difference immediately in how my body looked.

I worked really hard to lose the weight over the next year and got down to a really thin 140, even though I naturally sit somewhere around the 155 mark. I went a little bit off the deep end trying to get my stomach to look how it did before I had children. I saw all these moms and women on Instagram who snapped back within just a few months and here I am with my skin stretched out.

So I decided to do some research on what I could do to feel better about how my stomach looked. I went in for a consultation at Specialists of Plastic Surgery with Dr. Carlino. He told me my skin was probably not going to bounce back from having two kids back to back. He said the only thing that would correct it was a full tummy tuck. So a year after Houston was born I had the surgery.

It was the best decision I ever made when it comes to me feeling good in my own skin and being able to wear the clothes that I could wear before. The first two weeks were incredibly painful. I actually ended up getting into a car accident on my way to a post-op appointment that caused some complications.

I was messing with one of the drains, which is something you don’t really know about until you have a tummy tuck, and the seatbelt was right where the drain was poking out of me. I looked down just a second too long and rear ended the car in front of me. Despite the additional pain from that, the care I received from Dr. Carlino & Specialists of Plastic Surgery was amazing.

Q & A

What is a “mommy makeover”?
I had a tummy tuck and my breasts done at the same time, reduced by two cup sizes.

Did it hurt?
Extremely. It was probably the most uncomfortable surgery I’ve ever had in my life—and I’ve had my jaw broken!

Was it worth it?
Yes. When it comes to feeling good in my own skin again I would recommend it over and over.

How much did it cost?
It was around $12,000 for both procedures to be done at the same time.

What was the recovery like?
Other than being extremely painful, I took two weeks off of work.

Is there a scar?
I was left with a scar that stretched from one side of my body all the way across to the other side. I had two laser treatments done on the scar and then opted not to continue with further treatments. I was concerned from the beginning about having a scar, but was still caught off guard seeing it. Until you see a scar that goes almost all the way around your body, you don’t really know. I had to really get comfortable with it and I’m still not 100% used to seeing it now, but I would take the scar over the saggy skin. It hides really well in a bathing suit and underwear as it’s placed very low.

How does it feel after?
The feeling in your stomach is just kind of weird. In a tummy tuck, they cut your belly button out, pull the skin down around it, and cut a new position for your belly button to be in. Which means it doesn’t feel like my stomach anymore. When I touch the skin around my belly button that skin used to be much lower than it is now so it’s a weird sensation. You almost feel like you have a corset on. It’s not uncomfortable, but it does take some getting used to.

Last advice?
Do your research and find someone who speaks your language and you feel confident doing this surgery for you. I highly recommend my surgeon, Dr. Carlino. This type of surgery is his specialty and my entire experience with him was top notch.

This is my second Valentine’s Day holiday inside of being single. It gives me an opportunity to make “self love the new relationship goals.” This Valentine’s Day I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to treat myself to something that I rarely ever do—which is to actually take a pause.

Instead of going out to dinner or scheduling a massage, I am going to spend some time in my house. I’m going to get some take out so I don’t have to cook, I’m going to take a bath, read, journal, watch a movie… or whatever I want to do. My typical nights are spent looking at calendars, scheduling things, grading papers, answering emails, and other work related things. Valentine’s Day is going to be when I hit the pause button, decompress, and rest.

I also want to take a moment to share with you all about the self love that I’ve been able to pour into myself over the last couple of years. The first year single I was just focused on learning to co-parent, creating a safe space for my kids, buying a house, and transitioning my salon from full service to extension exclusive. This second year, however, I’ve really been able to focus on creating balance inside of my life. For me, balance is a form of self-love. Creating the time and the space to feel balanced even when it can be difficult is so important. I’ve tried really hard to make sure that this stays at the top of my priority list, which is really just taking the time to do the things I love to do. Which, for me, is really just getting back to basics.

One of the things that I love to do is find time in the morning to work out. That’s a really big version of self love to me. Vanity speaks to me—I want to look and feel a certain way. I gave myself permission to do the things that make me feel pretty inside and out. Going to therapy makes me feel like a better person so that’s something I want to start doing again. I love getting my lashes done, getting my nails done, pedicures, and of course I cannot exclude getting my hair done. I’ve allowed myself the freedom to do those things and feel good about them.

I love the way these things make me look and feel, so about a year ago I decided I was going to let myself treat myself and find time to do those things. I make an appointment and make it a priority. Self love for me is loving the way that I feel about these services so much that I put them in a special place in my calendar and treat them like an important appointment with myself to pour in or to work on something that is going to make me feel better and feel more confident.

NBR Hair Extensions

I encourage all my ladies, whether single or not, to find the thing that makes you feel good, and prioritize it and do more of it. You don’t have to do it weekly or even monthly, but find the time to do the things that you really love to do and don’t make yourself feel guilty for wanting to do those things.

Make loving you and the things that you love a priority, so that you can feel like the best version of yourself when you show up for every body else every single day.

You may have noticed… extensions have become really popular. But there’s a big difference between something that has just gained a lot of popularity and become trendy, and something that is someone’s passion and life’s work. Hair extensions have been something that I have been passionate about for almost two decades.

NBR Hair Extensions

NBR Hair Extensions

One of the aspects I feel most passionate about is how deeply hair extensions can change women’s lives. I never want that reasoning to sit second in the running for something that just seems super popular because it’s on social media. The first thing that drew me to extensions was that they could make such an impact. When you change the way a woman looks and how she feels about herself, it goes deep—it changes her confidence level, how she walks, and how she talks. The popularity of hair extensions is coming around for so many reasons—some good, some not so good.

I want to speak for a moment to fellow industry professionals who may be just getting into hair extensions or considering getting certified. You can get certified in an extension method in about a day now, but just because you have a certification doesn’t mean you should just start offering the service. I pose the following question to newly certified stylists, “Do you feel confident offering the service and having someone show up on the other side and have a good result?” Along with, “Have you put in the time and the work and had more than just a day or two of consistent practice?” Hair extensions are something that requires so many hours of dedication before you offer it as a case study or especially as a full-time service.

NBR Hair Extensions

To be clear—this is coming from a good place. My perspective on extension specialists is the more the merrier—the more people that we can have on board that really feel connected to the service and are really pouring their heart and soul into it within the industry, the better off our niche will be. What I don’t want is the people on board for the quick money or for the before and afters. There are so many important details that can be missed if the person isn’t truly dedicated to the ins and outs of extensions. Most importantly is the person’s experience—is it pulling, is it damaging anything? When you damage someone’s hair it can take years to heal that damage so it’s vital you’re asking these questions and ensuring that the service you are offering is top notch.

Through my training with Natural Beaded Rows I learned a training technique called “power practice.” Essentially you take what you’ve learned and you practice it 15 minutes a day for several months before you ever work on a guest. You have to make sure that you feel confident in what you are able to perform. Your skillset doesn’t have to be perfection, but you do need to be confident that you will not damage someone’s hair while performing the service. It’s so important to find an educational experience that not only certifies you, but also offers you a consistent platform of advanced, ongoing education. Having this support helps you get over your hiccups and continue pouring into your craft.

NBR Hair Extensions

Essentially, my philosophy on it is—be passionate about it so much so that you’re willing to put in the work to uphold the service. I believe if we all have that mindset, everyone can win.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been asking everyone the same question—to Resolution or Not to Resolution. I just assume because I am a “Resolutioner” that pretty much everyone has resolutions or new goals. What I’ve found out, however, is not everybody is into setting resolutions. So I pose this question.. for everyone who creates resolutions for the new year—why?

NBR Hair Extensions

NBR Hair Extensions

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My why is two-fold. First, it forces me to take some time and really take a look at what I’ve done throughout the past year. It allows me to ask myself if everything I wanted to accomplish actually was achieved. The second aspect is that it gives me a starting point for the next year’s evolution. As we move through the year, every day can feel like you’re just putting one foot in front of the other—especially when you have life coming at you super fast.

And that life stuff doesn’t always come back to being a mom or business owner (the things you hear me talk about the most). I talk to a lot of different people who have life coming at them fast from every angle. Women who open up to me about things that have nothing to do with kids or hair. It could be their spouse, mental health, family, and so much more. Sometimes it takes every ounce of you to muster through everything that showed up at your door. Setting a resolution helps guide me through these things, even if it’s not something I’m focused on every day.

NBR Hair Extensions

For me, the actual resolution is just one part of the puzzle. The other part is who I have to become to attain that goal. A resolution, for me, is really just a goal. Who I have to become needs to change in order to achieve that specific goal. Who I am in January 2020 is hopefully very different from who I will be in 2021. If I can master that, then the resolution is just an offset of what I need to do inside of my own mindset.

NBR Hair Extensions

Reflecting on this and creating my resolution makes me assess and take some time to write things out. I set my resolution up and every once in a while I check in and see if I’m going down the right path or if I’m on the right trajectory. There’s been some years I look back and think… what was I thinking? Why did I even want that? New Years provides a perfect checkpoint to touch base on my goals and plans.

While it feels like a no-brainer to me, so many of the guests I have spoken to have told me that they do not set resolutions. They’ve said everything from “I know myself and why it won’t work” to “I don’t want to be cliché and set them with everyone else.” I can certainly appreciate that answer even if it’s not how I see it. I would love to hear some more feedback from both sides… If you do make New Year Resolutions, why do you choose to put them into affect?

Why January 1st? If you do not set them at the beginning of the year is there another time of year that you do set them? Do you set them throughout the year? I would love to know what YOUR resolution practice is!

Drop a comment below.

Last week I shared a little bit about my vacation in Jamaica, but I didn’t really go into too much detail about the actual vacation. Even though I had an amazing time and the weather was beautiful, and even though you’re in an incredible place and don’t want to complain… the experience still matters. While I was in Jamaica, I had one of the worst experiences of my life at a luxury resort all-inclusive stay.

NBR Hair Extensions - Garnish Extension Studio

NBR Hair Extensions - Garnish Extension Studio

As a business owner and a part of the luxury service industry, I feel like I need to be an advocate for what the experience is like inside of a luxury business. This particular resort was brand new—it had only been open for about 2 weeks. We were not told in advance (or at all) that there would be places not open on the resort, that the staff would not be trained, that there would be rooms without hot water, and that there would be flies all over because nothing had been treated yet.

NBR Hair Extensions - Garnish Extension Studio

The whole time while I was having this horrific experience I was trying to talk to the manager on duty or get ahold of someone in some capacity. It was clear the manager was completely overwhelmed and irritated from all the people staying in the resort. Whatever you want your culture to be, it comes from the top. Even though the entire facility was beautiful, the experience is just as, if not more, important than the appearance. Throughout this experience I found myself just wanting to sit the entire staff down and say if you all are unhappy with how things are being handled, you need to give feedback to corporate about what’s happening.

Overall, it was such a big lesson that when I returned home I wanted to take an outside look at my own business. I wanted to really evaluate things not as the owner of the business, but as our guests see the entirety of Garnish. I looked at what people see walking in, how guests are communicated with after the service, how complaints are handled, and all the little details that can easily get overlooked.

NBR Hair Extensions - Garnish Extension Studio

It took a lot of digging, but because the experience hits home so much for me, I knew it was important to look through every aspect. Even with the experience being such a high priority for me, there’s always room for improvement. I did find a few things on how we can elevate the experience even more and will be sharing more about them in the coming months.

If you are looking for an amazing experience inside of hair extensions, I want to invite you to visit Garnish because it’s something we hold near and dear to our heart. Unlike my Jamaican vacation that was beautiful on the outside, but definitely needed some work on the inside, one thing you can always expect at Garnish is for everyone to love what they do and for it to really come from the top.

For the last week of 2019, I took an actual break. Shocking, I know, but I chose to take a week off to really not do much of anything so I could just decompress from the whole whirlwind of a year I just had.

Everything from transitioning the studio to be extension-exclusive to having a first time Kindergartener and everything in between. I just did so much this past year and wanted to do something completely different for New Years—I wanted a different temperature, a different country—so I chose Jamaica. I was in complete relaxation mode the entire time.

I took this trip with my friend Nicole, who also owns her own business, and being there with her forced me to have a mindset that I usually do not have. We made a pledge to each other that if we made this space in our calendars, we would have the time of our lives and not let work/life demands take away from the experience. And that’s exactly what we did.

I was a little concerned because we talk about all the things you can and cannot do with hair extensions, particularly when it comes to vacation, but for the first time I threw caution to the wind and just went for it. I went whitewater rafting, I climbed up a waterfall… everything got drenched. I did bring my dyson blow dryer with me, but for the most part I kept my hair in two braids the whole time to prevent tangling.

Since it was super humid, my hair curled up to its natural texture, and I was reminded of why I’m so dedicated to texture matching with hair extensions. Even though I was relaxed and not wearing any makeup, I still wouldn’t want my extensions looking crazy. Having my hair extensions in the same curl pattern as my natural hair meant that no matter what, my hair still looked great.

The entire trip I felt really confident. And that’s something I want all of our guests to feel. I loved being able to look in the mirror and still feel amazing and still feel like this is exactly what I needed and exactly what I wanted the pictures to look like.

Even though I’ve had long hair for a couple of years now it still feels like a dream sometimes, having had a pixie cut for 10 years. I had much shorter hair for a much longer time in my life so it’s kind of crazy to look at photos of myself with hair down to my waist and feel more like myself than ever before. Having hair exetnsions really just puts a completely different spin on your day to day life, vacation, etc. when you just feel amazing the entire time.

And at the end of the day, I had a super incredible New Years trip and came back with no tangles, no dreadlocks, and no hair loss—just a bunch of great memories… and in need of a really good blowout.

This Christmas for me was all about the gratitude feels. I found myself looking back on where I was at this time last year and just feeling so blessed for how much has changed and settled in the last year. This time last year my current house was in boxes and I was in the process of closing on the home I live in now—my dream home. So while Christmas last year was great and there was lots of love, it was also very much a transitional sort of chaos as everything in our home was packed up, there was no Christmas tree, no décor, etc.

Candice Motley NBR Hair Extensions Images by Amber

Having that experience last year led me to be so grateful for every little part of the holiday this year. Christmas felt amazing because I had the opportunity to host it in my brand new house, with everything set up, and see just how far I’ve come in the last year. Every time I walk in the door to my home I feel so grateful.

My kids are going to grow up in this home, their schools are right around the corner, and I’ve really just put a lot of energy into making it go from a house to a home over the last 12 months. It’s such a different feeling from where I was at last year and it has amplified how fortunate I feel to have such a home.

Candice Motley NBR Hair Extensions Images by Amber

Candice Motley NBR Hair Extensions Images by Amber

Being able to see my kids run down the steps Christmas morning and light up when they see all their presents, and see them experience that in a home I purchased on my own truly made me want to pause to thank the universe for giving me the opportunity to make that happen.

The gratitude also showed up in how blessed I am to have been able to spend time with my family this holiday season. It’s so fulfilling to have your family around and feel that connection with them. Being able to share this holiday with my family in my home is such a huge blessing, and I am so thankful for every moment.

Candice Motley NBR Hair Extensions Images by Amber

I hope you and your families had an amazing holiday season and look forward to sharing more with you in the New Year!

As we move closer and closer to the New Year we are also moving closer to something I have been working towards for most of 2019. My salon, Garnish Extension Studio, is becoming THE East Coast training hub for Natural Beaded Rows Extensions. I am so excited that I can hardly stand it.

I don’t think that I have ever planned for something so long and so hard and so tediously and with as much detail as I have in making sure that my team, myself, my clients, and pretty much everything is ready for 2020. This past year has been full of building, growth, and transition for my studio—all for the greater good of becoming an extension powerhouse.

NBR Hair Extensions

NBR Hair Extensions

I wanted every person on my team to feel completely ready for what we’re bringing to the table in 2020. The education we will be offering inside of hair extensions is not just for my team or even for the area, but will be for stylists all over the country. In order to make sure that we could say that yes we are trained for this and are ready for this, we have dedicated most of the last year to upleveling our training.

We’ve conducted several sessions a week to ensure that everyone felt comfortable with every last aspect of the NBR brand to be able to facilitate our upcoming trainings. You have to be able to live it before you can lead it and we have been embodying that this year.

NBR Hair Extensions

That’s one of the things that 2019 really offered me is to not just have myself show up, but to have my team show up in a way where we are truly specialists. No matter who you see when you come into the studio, you do not have anything to worry about. It’s such a huge accomplishment to have a high-end, amazing, life-changing service that every single person who works with me has been able to pour themselves into. And now when we have people join our team in the future, we already have a standard or benchmark for where we want people to be.

Garnish’s first class will be on the 13th and 14th of January.

NBR Hair Extensions

It will be an intensive for men and women across the nation who want to come and learn the art of NBR. The class will be held at Garnish and I will be the trainer for this event. Because it’s the first event I will be leading, I will be guided by the national head trainer, Anniane. She will be flying into my studio for the very first time. I’ve known Anniane for the past three years so it’s kind of cool to have her in my space to see how we do things.

I can’t wait to have all those men and women pour into themselves for those two days, and to have my staff here helping and answering questions and going around to make sure every person is taken care of. I have such a high level of respect for NBR and what they have provided for me in terms of growth so I just want to be able to help them uphold that and teach that to people on the east coast and beyond. Overall I’m just so excited.

NBR Hair Extensions

We’ve been working our asses off to make sure this goes off without a hitch! If you’re reading this, and are interested in learning hair extensions, I invite you to visit bigmoneystylist.com and check out the education schedule. If you’re interested in coming in to a class I would love to have you here in our space. We will roll out the red carpet for you and make sure that we pour into you!

Stay tuned for early 2020 and my blog post on how the training all went down.

NBR Hair Extensions

In the meantime… Happy Holidays!

It’s inevitable—every year the holiday season brings out every possible emotion. It’s everything from super enthralled and grateful and the spirit of giving and all the warm fuzzies… alongside overwhelm and frustration and feeling like there’s never enough time.

Candice Motley Hair Extensions

This constant up and down is one of the reasons the holidays can be so exhausting and why we find them so stressful. In addition to all of that it’s also the time to close out the current year and make sure everything you have coming up in the next year is in alignment. The pressure of January honestly starts in December.

If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking it’s a brand new year and you want to start it off right. You’re probably obsessing about all the things you’re trying to accomplish when the reality is that it’s just the next month. But something about the transition from December 31st to January 1st hits me super hard every year.

Candice Motley Hair Extensions

I always want to make sure that every goal has been checked off, every I has been dotted, and every t has been crossed. Of course it hasn’t… because human, and I just have to remind myself to accept that. Am I the only one who feels the immense pressure of closing out the year and starting a new one?

This whole season is such a hodge podge of emotions, but it’s been happening long enough now that I’m used to it. It all starts creeping in around Thanksgiving. My studio usually has 5 days off for Thanksgiving because work/life balance is so important to me, but I typically spend most of that time planning out December.

December is typically the salon’s busiest month and we’re always kicking off and launching things in January. A lot of what I’ve learned as a business owner is that your prep game has to be so strong. The videos that I want to release in January I’m having to find time to record in December. The campaign I want to launch in January has to be put together in December. The gift card promotion we launched for December had to be decided in October. It’s all about being prepared!

Candice Motley Hair Extensions

On the flip side of all of the stress and prepping there’s a whole dose of excitement as well. 2020 is going to be such a big year for my studio. Our national education launches in January—more about that in next week’s blog post—and we are ecstatic for what’s to come.

It’s such a mix of emotions, but I wouldn’t give it up for the world. Do the holidays bring you stress or excitement or a good mix of both?

This year for Thanksgiving my family and I decided to do something a little different. This is the second year that my family is in a co-parenting space. Last year was the first holiday season since my kids’ dad and I split and it wasn’t the easiest. This year we have a little bit of footing and know where we’re going. I really wanted to do something that was inclusive of everyone—my whole family AND his whole family. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for his family to join us, but it still felt amazing to be able to bring my immediate family (my mom, sister, and my two littles) out of town with me.

We decided to go to Massanutten Resort in the mountains of Virginia almost 5 hours away. I wanted us to go out of town so that no one had to cook and everyone could just relax. My mom has always been the one to spend the entire day before and the whole day of Thanksgiving cooking so that she barely gets to enjoy the meal herself. It was so cool to be able to treat her and allow her to actually enjoy the holiday.

We drove up the morning of Thanksgiving and got there just in time for their amazing Thanksgiving feast. The resort was beautiful and everything for the Thanksgiving meal was already set up when we got there. The food was delicious… my favorites were the cranberry encrusted salmon and the marshmallow sweet potatoes.

The best part about being in the mountains with crappy WiFi is that it forces you to connect with those around you. I got to spend time with my kids doing all kinds of fun things from ice skating to pony rides to karaoke to board games. I also got to talk to my mom for more than just 20 minutes. Typically when I see her it’s because she’s coming over to watch my kids so I’m rushing out the door. It’s rare that we are all purposely and intentionally sitting down together. I also got to connect with my sister and find out what she has going on. It was so nice to be able to spend real, quality time with each of them.

My biggest takeaway from the entire experience is that I want to spend more time just like that. I’m already planning to incorporate it into my 2020. I want to spend more time with my family and my kids actually going somewhere, doing something, connecting, and being intentional. Truly experiencing things together as a family.

I’m a big advocate of work/life balance and try to maintain that as much as possible for a business owner. I have always been a proponent of having holiday time spent with family where you do not have to worry about work. For the last 4 years my studio has had a 5 day spread where my employees had time off. We come in and work the Monday before Thanksgiving so we can have that full time to connect with family and friends. This has become a tradition that my whole team really looks forward to.

I am so thankful to have had such a wonderful holiday and am looking forward to how I can incorporate more intentional quality time with my family and kids in the new year.

C A N D I C E G R A M

Owner of @GarnishExtensionStudio | Transformations are my Specialty | Fashion is a hobby | Fun is a Necessity
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