It doesn’t look like much today, but for 52 years a corner building on Georgia Avenue was a centerpiece of beauty in Washington, D.C.
At the center of it all was stylist Liz Nolan, who died last weekend of an illness not related to COVID-19 at age 78. A groundbreaking entrepreneur known as D.C.’s first Black elite hairstylist, Nolan is being remembered for her popular beauty salon and her rise to success.
Her salon was called Natural Motion, and in 1967 she bought it for $1,500. She borrowed the money from her grandmother, Bessie, who sold her house in South Carolina to raise the money.
“My mom had an amazing work ethic. It didn’t matter how much money she had, she was at work every day from the beginning of the day to the end of the day,” Whitney Nolan Parker, Nolan’s daughter, said. “She was the first one to get there and the last one to leave.”
By 1980, Nolan was a millionaire, a Sassoon trained stylist with a drive and passion that took her right to the top.
She became famous for the “Liz Nolan Blow Out,” and attracted celebrity clients including Radio One’s Cathy Hughes, Eartha Kitt, Marion Barry, Dick Gregory and the wives of many notable congressmen.
But in Nolan’s chair, all customers were special, ever mindful of what she called her mission “to beautify the young ladies and the men of Washington, D.C.”
“She doesn’t change the treatment,” her daughter said. “Everyone, her client from up the street, is getting the Hollywood treatment.”
Nolan also trained scores of other stylists and encouraged them to launch their own careers in the beauty business. She retired a few years ago.
She adopted three children, and Nolan Parker said her mother’s love was never-ending.
“What I will hold onto is how hard she loved,” her daughter said. “It didn’t matter who you were, she loved you, she took care of you.”