Nail Tech-Turned-Entrepreneur Invents the Car Seat Key

Former nail tech Kristin Riley invented the Car Seat Key after seeing her clients struggle to manage a car seat with long nails.

Former tech Kristin Riley did the nails and the leaf design that adorn this Car Seat Key.
<p>Former tech Kristin Riley did the nails and the leaf design that adorn this Car Seat Key.</p>

July 5, 2018 was a sad day for nail tech Kristin Riley — it was her last day of doing nails after eight years in the business. But the silver lining was huge: She would have more time to spend tending to her growing business as the co-inventor of the Car Seat Key ( This handy device lets moms release the harness on their child’s car seat with just a slight pressure — a boon to women with arthritis, carpal tunnel, and, of course, long nails.

“Having a lot of nieces and nephews, I personally knew the car seat struggle,” says Riley. “But it was actually what I heard during my first year doing nails that sparked the idea for the Car Seat Key. I would constantly come across clients who were frustrated with broken nails or having to have short thumbs because of car seats. Even worse, I would hear about new moms who lived for their nail appointment having to completely remove their enhancements because of it.” She didn’t think they should have to sacrifice their valuable me-time at the salon and wondered why there wasn’t an easy solution that could be cute at the same time.

In 2018, Riley retired from the nail industry to pursue her dream as an entrepreneur.
<p>In 2018, Riley retired from the nail industry to pursue her dream as an entrepreneur.</p>

“Years later I went to my brother Mauro for help with a prototype and we created the solution ourselves,” Riley says. “I was juggling all of my clients while we were simultaneously learning how to invent something. It was a process, but in March of 2017 we launched the Car Seat Key.”

Fast forward less than two years and The Car Seat Key can be found at Target and on Amazon. And, oh yeah, Khloé Kardashian was spotted on social media using the pink version.

Despite her success, Riley hasn’t left the nail industry behind entirely — beautiful nails figure prominently in her marketing efforts. “I still do certain sets for product pictures, but for the most part I love to feature other manicurists’ work on the Car Seat Key’s social media pages. I love promoting all of the talent that’s out there these days.”

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