Nail tech, manufacturer, cop--all job titles Leatrice Woody can claim on her current resume. A patrolman on Chicago's West Side, where she grew up, Woody is also the inventor of the Buff & Go portable workstation for mobile nail techs.
Woody set her sights on a career in the nail business in high school, when a model who lived down the street from her did her nails for the prom. "That's when I became sold on doing nails for a living," says Woody. "I went to nail school and a year later I began going to people's houses to do their nails."
Six months after that, she bought a salon, brought on five additional techs, and eventually added hair, skin care, massage, and a boutique. But then, in 1996, tragedy struck. A client was fatally shot in the salon as Woody was finishing up his manicure. "I thought that was the cruelest thing anyone could do," she says. "It was a blow and I made a mistake by not getting counseling." Instead, she sold the salon and moved to Colorado, only to move back to Chicago four months later and try to pick up where she left off. She traveled to her clients' homes but found it difficult. "The tables I worked on were different heights and sizes, and I was disorganizied because I didn't have the right thing to put my supplies in," she recalls.
As she attempted to rebuild her business, a friend mentioned a test she could take to become a police officer. After her salon experience, the idea of catching the bad guys was appealing. "I didn't think I would pass, but I did. The process kept going along and I kept passing," says Woody, who joined the Chicago police department five years ago.
Still, she felt the tug of her former occupation. "My heart belongs to the beauty industry. It's so gratifying."
Alongside her patrol duties, Woody once again began work as a mobile tech. When her rolling cart broke, it inspired her to create a better way--for herself and others--to bring a nail station on the road. The Buff & Go portable workstation holds all your supplies, including a pedicure tub, and opens to present a 15" x 16" manicure table. "Last year I got a loan, an attorney, and a designer and I decided I'm going to contribute something wonderful so nail techs can make money. I want to empower women to be entrpreneurs, whether nails is their main occupation or a sideline," she says. "They can go to senior homes, weddings, parties--wherever there is a group of women."
Whether she's working as a cop in Chicago's toughest district or as a nail tech and proud manufacturer, Woody's goal is the same: to give back and help others achieve their potential.