Racism pushes Luisabella Beauty out of town

Other Pullman businesses faced discriminatory experiences but declined to go on record.



Maria Ferrer at Luisabella Beauty. January 11, 2023.

JOSIE GOODRICH, Reporter/Copy Editor

*Editor’s note: The name of one source has been changed to protect the individual’s identity 

Maria Ferrer came to Pullman looking for a new start and life for her family. Instead, she faced something that would ultimately force her out of town.

Ferrer originally opened Luisabella Nails in Ceres, California in 2009, and then moved to Pullman in August 2021. Upon arrival in Pullman, Ferrer changed the name of her business to Luisabella Beauty with hopes of including more services, she said.

In a previous article written about Luisabella Beauty, Ferrer provided insight into her business model, “We are here to make a family. That’s what we’re here for, we want to be part of that community. We want to support that community.” 

“That community” includes, but is not limited to, all ethnicities, races, genders, religions, members of the LGBTQ+ community, etc., she said. 

Shortly after Luisabella’s doors opened to the public in July 2022 and they gained clientele that did not feel welcomed elsewhere, the state of Washington was notified that the salon was practicing “without” a license, she said. However, Ferrer is licensed in the states of Oregon, California and Idaho.

Upon learning of the complaint in August 2022, Ferrer was told, “‘[to file a complaint], you have to create an account online and submit the complaint and it’s a long process, so it had to be someone that really wants to see you out of business.’”

Ferrer took the incident with a grain of salt and continued on with her salon, eventually hiring a braider, a barber and a makeup artist, she said. With that, Ferrer has actively used Instagram and Facebook for around 12 years, showing her and her team’s work. 

In the middle of October 2022, Ferrer received a notification from Facebook saying that her Instagram was reported for “having nudity or sexually explicit content,” she said. The two pictures that were specifically flagged were a photo of Ferrer’s own Halloween-inspired nails, as well as an eyelash photo. 

Then, on Nov. 1, 2022, Ferrer announced to Facebook that she had an African American barber from Texas renting a station, she said.

“Within 15 minutes I deleted about eight comments saying ‘you’re bringing Black people that are going to increase the crime rate in Pullman, you should be ashamed of yourself, you guys should go back to your country,’” Ferrer said. “On November 1, Facebook told me that after reviewing my account, because there was skin and so many complaints and so many reports, my social media was going to be deactivated.”

Other Pullman business owners that have faced similar discriminatory experiences have declined to go on record, out of fear of losing business and the safety of their clients.

All of the clientele, contacts and friendships she created on social media were deleted, she said. After ignoring the harassment for months, Ferrer replied to some of the comments on her personal account, which was yet again reported. 

After her social media was taken down, Ferrer started losing certain clients, she said. Ferrer was told by other business owners that they could no longer get their nails done by Luisabella because they were afraid they would lose their own clientele.

Ferrer never filed any police reports, according to Pullman Police Department. Ferrer’s reasoning was that almost all of the harassment she was receiving was via social media, and she believed nothing would come of it. 

“I had a person tell me that the only way that you can succeed in Pullman or this area is by following and going by what the people want, and if they don’t like me doing nails to men, I shouldn’t be doing it,” Ferrer said. “I told her I can’t do that because that will be going against what I believe and I can’t deny a service just because the town doesn’t go by that.”

Zara*, a client-turned-friend, has gotten her nails done at Luisabella since March 2022, she said. Zara admired the quality and friendship she received when getting her nails done, as well as someone to relate to coming from a Hispanic background.

“I noticed the fact that their kids are afraid now. For them to come here from California and they’re like, ‘no one likes us here, what’s going on? We’re the outcasts,’” Zara said. “Family time is sacred to them because of situations that have come up that have led them to believe that they may just end up being pushed out of Pullman.”

When Luisabella first opened, a lady claimed that “it was the worst salon that she’d gone to and it was overpriced,” as well as destroyed her own nails and posted it on Facebook Marketplace. Ferrer has tried to stay optimistic amidst the hate she has received, but it is slowly knocking her down every time something new happens, Zara said. 

“It’s like progressively seeing someone’s dreams crushed right in front of them and it’s horrible because they’ve been in the business for so long,” Zara said. “Their only hope was to open a salon that was inclusive to everybody and then that was just absolutely shut down in front of them within a year’s span.”

Ferrer plans to leave Pullman within a year and a half, after her children finish more schooling, and return to Mexico, she said. There, she plans to start a free school and teach beauty to low-income people so that they can one day open their own businesses.

“I feel like overall we have been very blessed because of all we have and I just want to give back to people,” Ferrer said. “That was the dream that we had here, but unfortunately with all this, it’s not possible. So we’ll do it over there.”

Ferrer hopes that in light of what she has faced, another business in this community can grow and succeed in the way that she had hoped for, she said. 

“I hope that this opens the door for other people. I hope that other communities come together and actually support each other and actually understand that being different doesn’t mean bad,” Ferrer said. “In a year we grew so much and we did so much, but it’s just like some people can’t understand that there is diversity and there are different colors and different thoughts and different ways —and it’s OK.”