After a terminal cancer diagnosis, BRIDEface owner sells business to longtime friend

Nancy Dawson and Julie Niesen have been friends for 20 years — good friends. They met while working at Saks Fifth Avenue in 2000 (Nancy in cosmetics and Julie at various locations throughout the store.) Their friendship endured across the course of their lives.

Nancy, now in the later stages of cancer, has chosen to sell her business, BRIDEface, to Julie, a marketing, technology, and food pro. Many know her through her blog, “wine me dine me.”

“We have kept in touch over the years. Facebook is miraculous for that,” Julie says. “She did my engagement makeup. We have been aligned politically. When she was diagnosed with cancer, we got closer.”

BRIDEface is an award-winning, professional, and personal team of wedding makeup and hair stylists. It was founded in 2005 and provides brides with an all-inclusive makeup experience, allowing them to look and feel stunning on their big day.

To both women, cosmetics and clothing are much more than superficial adornments, but statements on who we are and what we display to the world. Julie laughs and says that “she and Nancy are really the same person” and Nancy is extremely pleased that Julie will carry out her vision.

“When I teach a FACEing (cosmetics) class, the makeup is an afterthought. Women are in to reenter the workplace or have gone through a nasty divorce,” says Dawson. “I try to get people through some major life events.”

In the fall of 2019, Nancy — along with two other partners — launched Transform, a nonprofit organization that works with transgender and non-conforming youth on their path to authenticity by providing free clothing and wardrobe styling services. The idea came about partially due to sharing experiences with her 15-year-old trans daughter.

Julie explains that she and Nancy are aligned: “I look at cosmetics similarly, she says, “as a way of self-expression and learning how to enhance your appearance through makeup is important to many.”

Nancy has been a hopeful role model to people across our region. Since her diagnosis became public, a look at her Facebook page shows the life of a woman who has moved individuals.

“Nancy is somebody who has mentored others,” Julie says. “I believe in lifting up other women.”

“One of the things that people have been saying to me is that they are not wasting time and are telling people how they feel about things,” Nancy says regarding her diagnosis. “I have been able to walk through my own funeral. I have had brides say how I affected their day.”

She explains that earlier in life she had been a more cautious person. Then, unwittingly, things changed.

“Starting Transform, I wonder if on a subconscious level, I knew (that I was ill),” she says. “I jumped in and said, ‘let’s do it.’”

Julie confirms that she will stay true to the original BRIDEface mission and stay close to Transform in its new location around the corner.

“I am excited to see what Julie brings to the table,” Nancy says. “I was a single mom. She is going to be able to do so much more.”

“I am excited that you have confidence in me,” Julie responds.

BRIDEface will be hosting an open house celebration at their 2009 Elm Street location on Friday, March 13th from 6:30–8:30 p.m. The event will honor Nancy Dawson as well as raise money for Transform. RSVP here

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Read more articles by Jennifer Mooney.

Jennifer Mooney is a reformed corporate communications senior executive. She has also worked in the advertising industry and founded The Mooney Group, LLC, a boutique public relations practice. She is an avid adventurer and traveler, which includes climbing/hiking, open water swimming, and downhill skiing. She is a downtown resident and is married to Donald Mooney. She has two grown daughters.