All the Single Ladies

We often hear stories from techs who credit their spouse for carrying the financial burden while they built their nail business. But what if that’s not an option?


Andrea Boyko

tiPs by Andrea, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada

My nail tech suggested I take a nail class to do nails as a hobby, and it sounded like a good idea except the class was three hours away. However, the certification was simple eight years ago, the fees were within my budget, and the classes were held on the weekends, so I did it. My boyfriend at the time helped by taking care of my daughter. Truthfully, between the drama with my daughter’s father and new step-mom, plus the lawyer’s fees from being in and out of court, along with the expenses of a mortgage and house repairs, doing nails was the only thing in my life that made me happy. When the course was over, I advertised $10 sets of nails in a local paper. I just wanted practice! I was pretty proud of my newfound hobby, so I printed out business cards to hand out to people at work, and I began to build a clientele in the evenings and on weekends.

One day my hairdresser begged me to be a part of her salon team. Unfortunately, she asked me in front of one of the shareholders of the company where I worked. That didn’t end well. A few weeks later, I was laid off and totally unemployed — with a house, child, and lawyer bills. I cried. Then, when I realized crying didn’t help, I stood up, brushed myself off, and got focused.

I received a minimal income from unemployment, plus I had some money from doing nails part time. I budgeted very carefully, which was good because my unemployment was quickly discontinued as soon as the state determined I was making enough money doing nails.

I struggled while I built my clientele. I live in a flood zone and in the eight years I’ve been doing nails, I’ve been flooded four times! We’ve lost everything, but my office was upstairs so I could still maintain clients. During one flood, the entire driveway from the garage to the street was full of damaged furniture, pictures, clothes and other belongings I had to remove from the house. After the last flood, my home was hours away from being condemned. The water was so high it was touching the ceiling in my basement, and was two feet high on the main floor. Still, with all this disaster, my clients still came! We laughed. We cried. We sat in silence. They were so supportive. Many times my family told me to get a real job. They thought I was crazy.

It’s been a constant struggle with my daughter’s father during the entire eight years. Sometimes, I look back and I don’t even know how I functioned. Through it all, clients supported me. I’m still a single mom, I run a successful business, and I’m loving every minute of my life.


Bernadette Womack

Marquerites Nail Boutique, Spokane, Wash.

I was married when I attended beauty school and kept my job at a restaurant while I went to school full time. After I graduated and began building my clientele, my husband and I split up, and I became a single mom of four kids: 5, 10, 12, and 14. I was fortunate to work in a very busy salon where I could build my book quickly, but I kept my job at the restaurant for about a year until my client base was at a comfortable level. My kids would go to their dad’s on Wednesdays and every other weekend, so those were the times I worked late. As my daughter got older, she watched the boys. Doing nails as a single woman had its advantages: I was able to schedule around doctors’ appointments, conferences, and the kids’ games. I would tell a person who is in my position to make sure they have people to depend on. I never have made it without having reliable and responsible daycare.

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