I’m Evelyn, a 24 year old girl from Kitchener-Waterloo now living in Toronto. I’ve always had dreams about being in a magazine either as a writer, an editor, stylist or creative director. Never in a million years did I think I would author a feature piece – I am beyond grateful for this opportunity. I am the founder of “new nails, who dis?” a brand dedicated to providing customers with high quality, unique, hand painted press on nails. I’m a one-woman band – I hand paint each set, but I also do everything behind the scenes from branding to social media and website building.
This brand was born from failure – after graduation from the University of Waterloo with a degree in Business, Communications and a minor in Digital Arts, I worked at a social media company for almost a year before I was laid off. After 5 years of lectures, studying and co-ops, I thought I had finally figured out my life path, but I was suddenly thrown this curveball with no backup plan. For months I would open Linkedin only to see another one of my connections being laid off and seeking help – a feeling all too common at the moment. With a solid resume, a degree and 2 years of experience in social media marketing, I was still competing against thousands of applications for entry level positions.
As a hobby to help me unwind during this stressful time, I had been doing gel-x nails on myself. This evolved to me doing my friends’ nails and they turned out to be my biggest champions. They urged me to start advertising my services and make a real go of it. With the rocky job-search climate, I felt I had nothing else to lose and dove head first into the small business world.
Having a good idea is only the beginning when starting a small business. Figuring out how to get in front of potential clients and have them try out my products was the next part in the long journey ahead. Haley, a friend of mine who owns Cloud Three out of Waterloo, recommended I apply to be a vendor at small markets, specifically in the Toronto area. Markets were where she’d had some great success selling her handmade pottery (check out her Instagram here). With her prior experience in the markets scene, she was able to tell me everything I needed to know in order to get involved myself.
Fast forward a month and I was booked for three markets during the month of June. My first market appearance I left with no sales, however, the second market I attended I had two sales and then the third market, I left with 16 sales. In a relatively short time, I had seen a massive increase in sales. What I’d learnt from this was the importance of location and likely volume of foot traffic. For example, locations like Ossington, Queen West or the Stackt Market on Bathurst are a couple of locations that have a sure fire way to get you seen by a large number of people. In addition to being cognizant of location, during your research period and when applying to be a vendor at a specific market, be sure to ask the organizers what the turnout is expected to be, or has been during past events.
The success of my final market in June had me reminiscing about one of my university classes. We had been asked to write a mission statement for our future careers and mine had been along the lines of, “creating beautiful things to make people happy.” Little moments I’d experienced at the markets I’d attended; whether it had been when someone told me I should be proud of myself, or when their voices go really high because of the excitement they feel looking at my designs, really made me realize that I’m doing what I’d always dreamed of doing – and there’s no better feeling.
Getting to those moments where you receive recognition wasn’t something I’d always expected. It took me some time to believe that my art is worthy of praise. I went through the growing phase that many artists will understand where the work you create just doesn’t feel good enough to share. However, I was able to push through this feeling with my friends’ encouragement and throughout the early stages of my small business journey. I can finally say I am confident and proud to call myself an artist – my canvas is just extremely small!
I’m immensely proud of the growth I’ve had since I started this brand in April and I’m beyond excited to see where this business takes me. Right now, I’m considering returning to the corporate world or even going back to school, while working on growing my business and maintaining momentum. I always thought I’d have my career path figured out, however, there are so many opportunities laid out and I want to give myself the chance to explore them.