I never dreamt of success. I worked for it.”

I have found a home for myself at Salon Brillare in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. Salon Brillare is a team of talented, fun, and all around wonderful independent contractors. Currently, I am the only Nail Technician that rents at the salon, and I couldn’t be happier to be surrounded by such successful cosmetologists who share my passion for the beauty industry. I had never expected to be a part of such an astounding team. A group of women (and man!) who support you and push you and constantly cheer for you is something that I can’t even say I knew existed. It’s something that I hope I am never able to forget the value of.

The decision to rent was a difficult one. I was 21 years old with just over two years of work experience and a grand total of $4,000 to her name. I lived with my parents (I still live with my parents) and up until a week before I signed my lease I honestly hadn’t considered renting as a viable option. I knew next to nothing about business; I didn’t even keep a personal checkbook. Honestly, I still don’t really keep a checkbook. (Let’s all take a moment to praise the US Bank mobile app!) I knew nothing about running a business; I knew nothing about how to market myself. I knew how to make nails look nice. I knew how to sculpt a flower out of monomer liquid and polymer powder with the use of a kolinsky sable brush and you tell me how useful of a skill that really is in the grand scheme of life; hell, you probably don’t even know what I just said. But there I was, loosing my temper with a gossipy employer and surfing craigslist for a job because I was tired of abiding by someone else’s standards of how I my clients should be treated when those standards didn’t even come close to my own. (Well, there were a lot of reasons, but that was the biggest.) I cried about it, and I stressed about it, and honestly I probably even puked over it. But the time came, and I did it. I jumped, and I took that $4,000 and I started a business. It was the scariest decision I’ve ever made, and it was easily the best.

blue puzzle piece nail art to raise money for autism awareness

blue puzzle piece nail art to raise money for autism awareness

There was a time when I dreamt of fame and fortune and being a household name and having more money than anyone else I knew. But then I went to school, and I got my first job, and I gained my first real clients… and I learned what it was really about. Them; it’s about them. It’s about those relationships, and the happiness that I can give someone. Knowing that I relieved one of a bride’s many pre-wedding worries. Giving a few moments of relaxation to an expecting mother in the final days before her life changes. Hearing the honest surprise in someone’s voice when they look down at their hands at the end of a service and say to me, “Are these really my hands? I didn’t know they could look so beautiful.” You can’t put a value on the relationships that you form with clients, it simply isn’t possible. There aren’t words to describe the way I’ve felt when I’ve cried with them, and laughed with them, and sometimes even laughed until I cried. I have been blessed to play a small role in the journeys that they have taken, and I will never be able to thank them enough for allowing me that privilege.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have goals that span a little bit further than little old Pewaukee (and I still want people to know my name), but I can say that I intend on retaining a clientele throughout my career. I am not convinced that anything will, or even could, ever be quite as rewarding as the time I get to spend with my clients. It’s the foundation that the industry was built upon, and it’s not something that should ever be taken for granted. Losing touch with the clientele is what gets business owners into trouble, which is a mistake I desperately hope to avoid.

Aside from spending time in the salon, I still aspire to make some kind of name for myself in the industry. I think I would like to do something that involves traveling for part of the year, maybe working the convention circuit for one of the industries leading companies (cough cough, Young Nails… just saying…) or something along those lines. I hope to publish a book at some point in my life time; whether it will be industry related, a novel, or maybe something motivational I can’t quite say, but publishing a book of some sort might just be the only thing that I have consistently dreamed of doing since I was a child.

coffin shape with gradient and hand painted art

coffin shape with gradient and hand painted art

One way or another I really hope to do something to empower women. All women, but young women in particular. To help them; to support them; to guide them. I know that I am barely an adult, but it is my firm belief that everyone on this planet possesses some kind of knowledge that another person on this planet is in desperate need of. We are blessed to live in an era where the world and so many of it’s inhabitants are at our fingertips via the internet. I am young, but I like to think that I’m as wise as I can hope to be at this point, and I know that I have learned a lot of lessons thus far that it could have taken me much, much longer to learn. All I can hope to do is pass it on and make a difference in someone’s life.

I love this industry, and I love my business. I love being my own boss and I love making my own schedule, and most of all I love making my own rules. I created this business; every penny and every tear, every success and every failure. That is something that no one will ever be able to take, and knowing that is a feeling that I hope everyone finds in their lifetime. This business is me. I am Dani, and I do nails. Someday I hope to do more as well, and I am happy to know that this business will always be the platform on which I will be able to build myself and my legacy. Estee Lauder said, “I never dreamt of success. I worked for it.” I obviously won’t lie and say I didn’t dream of it (and I think we all know how she must have meant it, anyways), but I will say that I have worked for it, and I have every intention of continuing to work for it. I will claw my way to where I want to be if that’s what I need to do, and I will have the prettiest claws in the game as I do it.

one nail to represent each of Pearl Jam's studio albums

one nail to represent each of Pearl Jam’s studio albums