If your bathroom vanity is lined with a rainbow of nail polish colors and co-workers often remark on your tricked out nails (hello, sweater nails!), you might want to consider a career in the nail industry. Sure, it might seem like a fun hobby to mix your fave nail colors into unexpected nail color combos, but your passion for all things nails could actually turn into your dream job. In this week’s How to Quit Your Day Job series, we chat with Jin Soon Choi, the founder of the famed Jin Soon Hand and Foot Spa in NYC and the creator of the JINsoon nail lacquer line, about starting her company and what ignites her creative passion.
Meet The Nail Pro: Jin Soon Choi
In 1991, Korean-born Jin Soon Choi moved to New York City and quickly became known as a creative freelance manicurist, nicknamed “Bicycle Jin” because she rode her bike from client to client. Unlike other traditional nail salon owners, she dreamed of opening a salon that offered more of a personal touch to customers. She opened Jin Soon Hand and Foot Spa in 1999 in the East Village, and that soon led to a West Village spot where fashion icon and actress Sarah Jessica Parker was her first client. Nowadays, Jin, deemed the “nail guru” by New York Times Magazine, spends her time developing curated nail polish collections, delivering high fashion editorial photo shoots and running her stylish salons.
1. Chase every opportunity. When Jin was first starting out, she followed every opportunity presented to her and relied on the help and advice of her friends. “When I was known as ‘Bicycle Jin,’ one of my clients recommended an agent for me, which eventually led to working on high-end photo shoots and fashion shows,” says Jin.
2. Swap skills with a friend. If you’re a pro at painting nails but want to learn some business skills, approach a friend who has those talents and offer her free manicures in exchange for business advice. That’s what Jin did when she was first starting out and wanted to learn English. “A friend, with whom I exchanged manicures for English lessons, helped me secure my first lease for a salon, which is how I met my architect husband, who designed and built all of my salons,” says Jin.
3. Explore when seeking out inspiration. Known for her chic aesthetic, Jin loves constantly being exposed to new colors and trends while working photo shoots and fashion shows and as a salon owner. “I love the idea of delivering high-fashion editorial colors that are edgy and different,” says Jin. But instead of following trends, she prefers to be inspired by nature and modern art.
4. Start now. Don’t sit on your dreams and wait for them to happen. Get started now, suggests Jin. If you have a career you want to pursue but are stuck in another job, start working toward that new passion. “Establish your own clear concept and then don’t wait to take the leap. The sooner you start, the more likely you are to be successful,” says Jin.
5. Fall in love with your creativity. For Jin, one of the best parts of being a nail guru is incorporating her creative vision on a daily basis. Part of what makes her business thrive is that she’s passionate about what she does, whether it’s working with her employees or launching a new JINsoon nail lacquer line. “The most important thing is to be passionate and creative about your work and to always work hard to see your vision through,” says Jin.
Perfect Your Skills
1. Nail Art Online Class ($19): Celebrity nail artist Stephanie Stone spends an hour showing you how to turn your nails into works of art with simple techniques like ombré, layers and fun geometric designs. Snag the DIY Nail Art Kit to follow along.
2. Fashion Photography 101 ($129): Develop your skills as a nail entrepreneur with a lesson in what makes fashion photography truly editorial. Fashion and advertising photographer Lara Jade teaches you her creative process, from selecting models to on-location shooting.
3. Join a Skill Swapping Network for Female Entrepreneurs (free): Vendeve is the love child between Facebook, LinkedIn and Yelp and connects female business owners with each other for networking and swapping skills. Offer your expertise to another #girlboss in exchange for a skill set you want.
What’s your dream career? Tweet us @BritandCo to let us know, and we could feature it in the next column!
(Photos via Jin Soon)