Bhattarai learned eyebrow threading growing up in her native Nepal, where her aunt owned a salon. Bhattarai said there were few beauty service providers offering eyebrow threading when she opened her business.
She started in a mall kiosk and soon expanded to two storefronts, in Starkville and Columbus. She served more than 3,000 customers in two years of business.
When she had to close, four employees lost work. Bhattarai, who had just begun graduate school, lost thousands of dollars of business, all the while continuing to pay rent for her stores, which were under lease.
Mississippi Justice Institute director Aaron Rice said these kinds of regulations disproportionately impact the poor, minorities and young people.
“A lot of times the people who are trying to get their start in life and get into the market or the workforce are young people who may not have an occupational license,” he said. “That barrier may be more than they can overcome in order to get into a work setting.”
In 2020, Madison eyelash technician Amy Burks threatened litigation against the Board of Cosmetology after it threatened to shut down her business of five years because she had no license. Another lawsuit was filed by Fulton makeup artist Karrece Stewart in 2020.
Stewart said she was inspired to push for the law after hearing about Melony Armstrong, a Black woman who fought to get a law passed removing licensure requirements for hair braiding 15 years ago.