Sophomore cashes in on colorful hobby

Della Johnson | Staff Writer

When it comes to owning a small business, sophomore Lillian Ehlers is nailing it.

The concept of students having jobs alongside their extracurriculars is nothing new, with part-time jobs at food chains and retail stores being among the most common of working environments for teens. Another route, however, is for a student to start their own business. one that doesn’t revolve around goods, but rather, a service.

Ehlers is one of those students that have chosen to tackle an unorthodox job for her age range. Utilizing Instagram as a scheduling and promoting tool, she started her own manicure venture in July of 2020. 

Having heard complaints from  her friends about the heightened prices at most salons in the area, Ehlers has made it her mission to provide the people she cares about with something more affordable. The most she charges for her service is $16 for acrylic nail tips. Her low prices have contributed to her business’ success.

“My friends would say they’d come to me because I was so cheap, and it still looks good,” Ehlers said. “I think it’s fun to do it for my friends and let them have cheap prices. Money isn’t what’s important to me.”

Starting out with only gel, Ehlers continued to expand upon what she offered for services. Now, she’s using Signature Nail Systems (SNS) dip powder and fake nails, as well as adding to her decorative armoire with glitters and colors. While the new supplies are more expensive, they are easier to use  and last longer.

With only a small amount of experience surrounding nail art before ordering the supplies she needed on Amazon, Ehlers has used this experience as a way to improve her skills and, by extension, her patience. With her personal improvements and validation from her friends, she was confident enough to make a practice out of it.

“I’m very impatient, and I would always have the cheap polish that wouldn’t work,” Ehlers said. “When I saw gel, I realized that’d be easier for me. I kind of liked doing it for myself, and then I started doing [manicures] for my friends, and they told me I was good at it.”

It isn’t the money or the skill improvement that really makes the experience worthwhile for Ehlers, but the friendships she’s able to form and strengthen through her work. As someone who plays basketball and softball as well as runs cross country, she has been able to simply ask teammates to just come visit her nail salon, leading to more meaningful relationships. “I think that it’s helped me to meet a lot of new people,” Ehlers said.

Her time in sports has also led Ehlers to quite a few personal nail-related mishaps. Not only does she have to experience the toll of a broken nail but with her 

business, she finds company in hearing about others who have messed up their manicures. . Owning her own business and being skilled in nail art has helped ease some of the agony surrounding the loss of a painted claw.

“I’ve definitely cried a few times breaking a nail,” Ehlers said. “That’s why it’s nice, being able to do them myself. I know the emotional pain. My friends on my teams obviously can’t have long nails. It’s funny to hear the stories of other people breaking a nail and having breakdowns because they were so expensive.”

Regardless of any funny stories surrounding her skill or the small advantages to it, the business that Ehlers has built is one she truly enjoys, crafted around a seemingly simple hobby. While the journey to making a profit from doing something you have fun with may be viewed as just wishful thinking, she wants to assure people that it’s worth it in the end, as it’s definitely more relaxing than a usual part-time job. 

“Just do it,” Ehlers said. “It’s nice having [work] at your own time. You’re able to control what you can do and how much you want to be involved with it. The funny thing is, I started as a joke with my friends. Now, it’s cool to see that other people are finding out about it.”