Pocket change, especially living in an adventure-packed place like New Orleans, is something that everyone wants but few of us seem to have. Last year, though, I came up with a way to capitalize on one of my skills that used to just be a fun pastime: painting my nails.
Back in high school, I loved getting my nails done with gel, but after making the switch to college, it wasn’t convenient or cost-friendly to continue my favorite beauty habit. I never intended to start a nail business. I was simply going to buy a gel machine and a few basic colors on Amazon in order to save money by giving myself manicures at home.
The idea hit me when I was sitting through my Monday night EBIO lab, which clearly wasn’t very engaging. I immediately texted my sister about the possible idea of charging girls for manicures out of my apartment. Her encouragement led me to bite the bullet and post about my new venture in my sorority Facebook group, not having any idea how it was going to be received. Before I knew it, my phone was blowing up with notifications from many amazing girls who were not only so supportive, but also so excited about this new opportunity.
After that initial successful test of my main and closest audience, my sorority, I felt emboldened to really take my on-a-whim idea to the next level. I set out searching on Amazon for the best (but cheapest) manicurist supplies I could find. My guinea pigs were my lovely roommates—shout out Aron 201—who let me do trial runs on them when I first got my supplies in the mail.
I was worried about the initial hit to my bank account, but to my surprise and delight, I made back my investment in about two weeks of doing girls’ nails! I offered prices that beat the local salons by almost half. Also, I had convenience on my side; all girls had to do was walk to my room. I advertised more heavily before big events: date parties, breaks, Mardi Gras, etc., and that was when I became extremely busy and gained many new customers. I started offering $3 shoulder massages, which was a huge hit. It made me happy to provide girls with the most relaxing part of their day amidst their busy, stressful lives.
My favorite part of the whole venture was the time I got to spend with the girls who came to get their nails done. When you’re holding hands with someone for almost an hour, you get to know them! I loved talking to girls that I had never had the opportunity to spend time with before. My business expanded my social horizons in such a positive way that I can’t wait to continue next year. Don’t forget about me next time you need a manicure and a good chat!
COVER PHOTO: Nail Art Ideas