Meet Lauren: From 250-sq.-ft. to 1,100-sq.-ft.

My name is Lauren Scales, and I am the current owner of Graffiti Nail Bar in Memphis, Tenn. I am opening a larger location in midtown Memphis during the first part of 2013, so I will get to experience the pitfalls, inconvenient surprises, and disappointments all over again. Only this time there will be much more at stake.

I went to Plaza Beauty School here in Memphis, graduated in 2005 and got my license that September. Ever since then I've been through a lot of changes to find my way in this industry.

First I started doing long nails with designs and 3-D nail art -- that's how I made my name in the city. With all of the discount salons I had a lot of room to set myself apart and establish a reputation. After a while, the part of the city I was in wasn't conducive to my business. The only thing I would ever get was the every-once-in-a-while dramatic nail design type of clientele. So I started looking for a job and because of that I had to cut my nails all the way down. I didn't ever find one, but I started noticing that without my long nails I got another kind of clientele, but they didn't want to come to Whitehaven so I had to move closer to civilization.

I moved to a day spa in the Colonial area, where I had some really good days and some really bad ones, but when they stopped buying supplies on time, I had to go (It was killing my business). Eventually I stopped looking for work and decided I would make this nail thing work one way or another, so I have been solely doing nails since 2007, in and out of numerous salons and day spas. I've never been happy with the way other people run salons in this city, and it's only because they have the means to do more, they just don't. Memphis is a very depressed city and all I've ever wanted was to give people a fun place to be where they didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for services.

So I got somewhere I could hide out until I was ready to make the move and while I was accomplishing the money part okay, I was actually being counterproductive by not being able to attract new substantial clientele. So I took what I had and found somewhere that was the exact same amount per month and I did what I had to do.

I started Graffiti Nail Bar in May of 2011 and immediately began my search for another location. Right now I am in a whopping 250 square feet! (Contain your excitement, I know.) But sitting where I was at the time, this space was pure heaven. I was in the middle of "Orange Mound," one of the areas you probably wouldn't want to be caught in at night. I'm here because I wanted to start somewhere that I could afford the booth rent and save money for my own place and in 14 months I was outta there! Then I ran two daily deals in the first year and noticed how much money I was losing by being down in the basement of a building, so I immediately started my search.

More than a year later, I just found my place! There have already been some surprises and I can't wait to tell you all about it because this situation right here, well, it's like nothing you've ever heard of, I think. We got 1,100-sq.-ft., no loans or financial backers, and that's all I will say cause the next one deserves a whole blog!

If I can do this, anybody can do it!

— Lauren, Graffiti Nail Bar, Memphis, Tenn.

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