How to Quit Your Day Job and Start a Nail Polish Empire
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.
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)
It can be intimidating to step out on your own and build a business from the ground up. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're talking with Selfmade alum and solopreneur Colette Lawrence, the faith-based motivator and relationship builder behind The M.E.E. Movement, about ways in which women in business can find success.
B + C: How did you know M.E.E. Movement was your business to start?
The M.E.E Movement represents motivation, empowerment, and encouragement for women. It is what represents me. I did not know at first that it was my business to start, but then the thought of monetizing what I loved came to me. It scared me, however. I registered the business in July 2020 and have been slowly building my wings since.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
Thinking through and researching what the requirements are to start my business, and then asking questions of people who are in the business. Not all advice worked; however, it helped me to figure out what I needed to do and not to do.
B + C: Did you always know life coaching would be your entrepreneurial path?
(Smiles) No, I did not. I 'stumbled" on it. I knew that people were always coming to me for advice and I found that I loved having conversations with them, especially with women, young and old.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
My most valuable takeaway was the first day of training: Get out of your own way. There were a lot of great moments and important takeaways from every presenter. However, getting out of my own way, pushing past doubts, was for me my most valuable takeaway. Doing something that I had never done before took courage. If I do not focus on what is happening with me mentally then I cannot deliver to my clients successfully.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Get out of your head. You have something to offer. You have what you need to succeed so go ahead and do it.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I stay motivated by listening to music and listening to motivational speakers, and sometimes someone will just reach out and talk about the impact that I made in their life. That adds the extra juice or sauce I need to pummel through the day.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip?
Keep a diary and journal. It's the best way for me to keep organized and it also provides a source motivation as I record not only my "losses" but my wins as well.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Shirley Toliver – She motivates and empowers and makes me always want to show up.
B + C: What has receiving the Office Depot scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start or grow your business?
The scholarship was a blessing in that all the areas that were covered offered valuable information that I needed, from social media to HR. As a new business owner, I needed to know this to increase my own personal awareness in what it takes to run a successful business. The candidness of the presenters made it easy to see myself in their shoes and helped me to realize that I can also get there.
Want to feel motivated to take the next step for your business? Let Office Depot OfficeMax give you the confidence you need with a suite of business services & solutions to help you put your best foot forward. Make a good first impression with business cards & build the business pitch of your dreams with custom presentations. With Office Depot OfficeMax you'll find the tools to reach new customers with confidence.
Head to Office Depot's Selfmade page to check out even more amazing business resources (and discounts!) to help you accomplish more on your entrepreneurial journey. These offers are available for a limited time only, so be sure to take advantage of all this goodness while supplies last. Want to join the next Selfmade cohort this summer? Check out all of the scholarship details right here.