Beauty, Brains, Braids and Blowouts: UM student creates a niche for herself in beauty market


By Hannah Hastings
Oxford Stories

Driven and full of sass, Oxford native Madison McCay is a sophomore at the University of Mississippi and part-time employee at Oxford’s Blo Dry Bar.

McCay has had a passion for makeup, hair and beauty since high school. Then, it was common for McCay to style her friends’ hair or makeup for formal events, such as prom. She discovered she had a strong talent for updos, particularly elaborate, boho braids.

As McCay did this free for family and friends, she realized she could create a small side job to make extra money in high school. Eventually, this led to the creation of her first small business — Babes and Braids.

McCay created an Instagram page displaying her unique hairstyles and makeup for followers. “I decided to create an Instagram account because I knew it was the most efficient and reliable way to reach my customers, new and old,” she said.

The social media account gained popularity around the Oxford community and quickly collected around 700 followers. After gaining a strong following base, McCay was constantly booked with family and friends from all over Oxford, and she did appointments from her own bedroom or bathroom.

“She has always been headstrong and determined,” said Michelle McCay, her mother, as she discussed her daughter’s passion and success. “I remember catching her in my bathroom trying on my clothes and makeup when she was only 4 years old. We never thought she would turn her passion into a business.”


McCay’s success didn’t stop when she became a college student. In the summer of 2017, she was approached by Hannah Christopher, an Ole Miss graduate, who had discovered the Babes and Braids Instagram account, and she asked her if she would like to join her upcoming business, Oxford’s first Blo Dry Bar.

The Blo Dry Bar is a hair salon that offers hair styling, spray tans and makeovers, but specializes in blowouts. McCay was eager to start working for the Blo Dry Bar because it was a new hair trend that Oxford was missing.

“The reason Blo Dry Bar Oxford is different and unique from other hair salons in Oxford is the fact that it is blow out exclusive, which makes it quick and convenient for customers,” said Christopher, manager and founder of Blo Dry Bar Oxford.

When one receives a blowout, typically, it will include a deep hair wash and hair styling. Also, it will last four to seven days because of the high quality products the salon uses. Blowouts are the most common request at the Blo Dry Bar.


At the salon, McCay specializes in boho braids and is the only makeup artist. “Our team of stylists and artists are well trained and excited to work with our customers,” Christopher said. “We have the best products that are based off natural ingredients to ensure that our customers receive the best service. Students or locals are quickly in and out and perfectly styled for any occasion. Whether it is for a college date party or not an occasion at all, we have seen everything.”

McCay’s position is unique because it is personalized and different for each customer. For example, one customer may come in and ask for a special braided updo and dramatic makeup for a formal, and another customer may just want a simple side braid after her blowout.

As the first blowout salon in the city, Blo Dry Bar Oxford is convenient for Oxford and nearby residents. Christopher is pleased with the salon’s success. She said customer satisfaction has been high, with a range of customers of all ages, including students and locals.

“The blowout industry is growing, and I knew Oxford would be a perfect location to start the service,” said Madison McCay, hairstylist at the Blo Dry Bar. “We are overwhelmed with the amount of support the Oxford and Ole Miss community has given us. We knew it would be a great idea to bring the service here, and we could not be more thankful for our customers.”

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