"Being able to laugh has helped me get through some hard times," says Thorson.
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"Being able to laugh has helped me get through some hard times," says Thorson.

Meet Angela Thorson — a Spring 2015 CND Tippi Hedren scholarship winner, nail salon owner and stand-up comedienne. Despite meeting some very challenging experiences along life’s journey, Angela continues to look on the bright side and keeps her community — and often her clients — laughing as well. Below, Angela talks about how winning the nail scholarship has changed her life.

What were you doing before becoming a nail professional?
AT:
I wanted to go to nail school for more than 10 years, but instead was doing roller derby and just working. While I always enjoyed art and kept a studio, my day hustle was as a delivery driver.

How did winning the scholarship help change your career direction?
AT:
Winning the scholarship allowed me to keep my passion for art — creating little canvas designs and walking billboards on fingers and toes. And it helped me become an entrepreneur. I’m no longer delivering sandwiches. Each day, I work alongside my best friend Joy Moller and soon we’ll be moving BFF Nail Spa Boutique to our new location at 508 6th Street in downtown Rapid City.

Thorson says she loves "creating little canvas designs and walking billboards on fingers and toes."
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Thorson says she loves "creating little canvas designs and walking billboards on fingers and toes."

What were some obstacles you encountered as you shifted careers?
AT:
Probably not the ones most people would expect! I’ve had several surgeries since graduating nail school. One surgery left me with constant pain and numbness from knuckles to chest, and little feeling in my left arm. While a lot of people told me to pursue a different path, I knew I’d worked too hard getting licensed and starting my nail salon to walk away from my dream career. A year of physical therapy and some creative improvising — like buying a new nail table — have helped me stay in this career I love so much.

How have you managed to stay positive throughout this journey?
AT:
I’ve always had a gift for improv comedy and it has helped me adapt to everyday situations and balance life’s tragedies with triumph. I take on the challenge with clients in the salon to help them forget about everyday life for a little bit while they’re getting their nails done. I want my salon to be a place where clients feel good. I’ve also started performing at a speakeasy comedy club with a stand-up routine. Being able to laugh has helped me get through some hard times. When I first got up on stage after my surgery, my arm literally stole the show! You learn a lot about yourself doing stand-up — and doing nails.

Thorson lives in an Airstream trailer full time.
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Thorson lives in an Airstream trailer full time.

What are some goals you’ve set for the future?
AT:
I live in an Airstream full-time and in the future want to live in New Orleans throughout the winter during football season. Besides air streaming, I will continue to be an entrepreneur and an artist. I’ve always said my ultimate life goal is to design handbags for Louis Vuitton by the time I’m 90!

How has beauty changed your life?
AT:
Winning the scholarship gave me a confidence boost and a new career. It also served as proof that no matter what happens or what life hands you, you always have a chance to start over. Winning the scholarship was a transformation!

This story first ran on the Beauty Changes Lives blog. For more information on Beauty Changes Lives scholarships, go to www.beautychangeslives.org.

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