Dawn Davide sits in her spa, La Bella Spa Salon, and looks over blueprints for Casa Bella, the retirement home she plans to build in Rio Rancho.
Photo Amy Byres / Observer

Ever been to a salon where your hairdresser can give you a highlight and a bathroom remodel?

The owner of La Bella Spa Salon, Dawn Davide of Rio Rancho, can do just that. She is a licensed cosmetologist and a licensed contractor.

She is also the owner of Homes by Dawn Davide, which has upcoming work in the City of Vision.

Davide has won multiple awards for her salon and building expertise.

“When I would be asked, ‘If you could only pick one business, which one would you pick: Still work as a hairdresser or a home builder?’ Honestly I couldn’t pick,” she said. “It is funny, years later, on my 40th birthday, I would have twins. … It was like having twins before twins. The same way I couldn’t pick one of the boys, I couldn’t pick one of the businesses.”

Davide was born in New York and moved to Rio Rancho with her family in 1971 after her father died.

La Bella Spa Salon is on 10126 Coors Blvd in Albuquerque.
Photo Amy Byres / Observer

Davide’s mother being a hairdresser, she grew up in a salon and learned the trade early. After she graduated from Cibola High School in 1985, at 17 years old, Davide moved back to New York the next day.

She attended Brooklyn College and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and obtained her cosmetology license that year.

“Having my career in cosmetology is really what launched my career in home-building because while I was working in New York as a hairdresser, I was able to get on an international design team and that brought me to places like Milan. I was in Chiang Mai (Thailand), Hong Kong, and creating hair.

“Where most women were shopping and bringing home Couture clothes, purses and shoes, I was falling in love with mantles and fireplaces and the architecture, and that’s really what kind of launched the home-building side,” she said.

After moving back to Rio Rancho at 28 years old in 1996, Davide began investing in La Bella and built her spa from the ground up. While working on La Bella, she was also building her home.

After she completed construction on her home, someone offered her $90,000 for it, more than what it took to build the house, Davide said.

She took the money, bought the lot next door and began again; only this time before she could finish the house, a buyer made an offer.

“So by the third lot, I said, ‘Wow, I could be onto something here,'” she said.

She attributed these back-to-back sales to her attention to detail and use of space.

“The love for design: Growing up in a large family, I really focus on not wasting space,” Davide said.

She made sure the spaces flowed, no matter the size of the home, following an Italian design style.

This attention to detail would allow Davide to obtain her contracting license in 1998, entering a male-dominated field.

“I remember walking into the class to take my test. There were a couple of hundred men and me, and I can’t tell you how many people asked me for coffee and donuts, just assuming that I was there to help set up the class, never to actually participate and take the class,” she said.

Throughout her career she would have to face more hurdles.

“So after a while, there were some hills and valleys of being called ‘gum-snapping hairdresser,’ because I won a builders award,” she said, explaining that some other builders were offended that she could be both a home-builder and a hairdresser.

Davide took her experience as a life lesson.

“I think that in life, the best person for the job should get the job, male, female, black, white, tall, short, whatever,” she said. “I just kind of powered through that and that’s the way I fought discrimination. It’s to just be you and keep trucking on.”

Davide does not solely take credit for her success.

Joseph Bogart is the creative director of La Bella, which is in the Cottonwood area. With Bogart’s help, Davide is able to focus more on expanding her empire, she said.

Bogart came to La Bella and helped modernize online platforms to reach a wider audience.

“Dawn and I share the vision and the belief of the craft that will never change. No matter how modernized you get, no matter how old-school you think you are, the nut of it is the belief in the craft and anything is possible,” Bogart said.

Next, Davide plans on building a retirement home at Northern and Unser boulevards, creating about 40 jobs for Rio Rancho.

“I think it is all about really the connection with your client and bringing something that is important for them and creating something that works for them, which is why I love to do custom work,” she said.

“What I say is whether it is a hut or a mansion, it is someone’s something to them: hair, body, skin, where they live, where they rest their head, where they dream their dreams, where they raise their family. That’s the part that is really the driving force.”

Assistant Editor at Rio Rancho Observer