Beautiful, Fun, Quirky and Brilliant, the nail guru behind The Nail Hub shares with us how she went from an uninspiring desk job in finance to building a small empire doing what she loves, NAILS!
With an incredibly informative podcast powered by Nails Magazine on iTunes, 94.6K followers on Instagram, a successful nail academy and a top representative for the USA's TOP gel nail brands, Liz shares how taking the leap to follow her passion opened a new world of possibilities.
Read her story and follow her journey @thenailhub
[LS] How did it all start? What made you decide to pursue this path?
I’ve always loved everything about nails, makeup, and beauty. There’s something so powerful about the feeling you get the first time you paint your nails with red polish. I remember when I was 3 years old I was obsessed with my mom’s nail polish collection (back then was about 2 colors; pink or red). I painted all of my fingers in red polish, and my mom discovered me on her white carpeted bathroom floor with red polish all over my nails, fingers, and hands, but I hadn’t spilled a drop on the carpet. Phew! Since then I’ve always painted my nails and it wasn’t until I met my husband that I really took note my obsession. I would come home from a long day at my corporate finance job and would immediately go tinker and do my nails. My husband is a true entrepreneur at heart and really encouraged me to pursue my passion as a career. Since then we have owned one of the most successful salons in southern California, have provided education to thousands of nail technicians through our academy, and have become global product distributors for the nail brands that we love.
[LS] What steps did you have to take to conquer your goal of being a business owner?
Definitely compartmentalizing. Nothing is more difficult that putting your dreams, heart, and soul into a business and then having others comment, judge, and criticize. We have tons of supporters and amazing clients, but somehow it’s always the 1 “Negative Nancy” out of 100 positive supporters that can ruin your day. I used to take negativity so personally and look at is as a direct attack, but now I see it for what it is. You have to find the grain of truth in every bit of negative feedback, learn from it, improve, and move on. Don’t let it eat you alive. It’s not about you, it’s about the business and that I had to learn how to separate mentally.
[LS] How do you manage envy, ego or jealousy from getting in the way of your dreams?
I’m not a jealous person to begin with, but I do find in my industry that nail professionals are always comparing themselves against others. They put themselves down, wonder why they don’t have as many followers on Instagram, or why their salon isn’t Pinterest perfect, and instead of being motivated to grow and improve they start to let it grind away at their sense of self. I think the biggest take away I have from interacting with other women and issues surrounding jealousy is that jealousy really comes from a lack of gratitude. Every person on this earth has a gift, talent, point of view, energy, or personality that can’t be replicated. We are all so unique and if we understood the power that comes with our unique gift we would cherish it and share it with others rather than pit ourselves against one another. When you realize that you have something unique to offer the world and that others do as well, you start to look for opportunities to collaborate, learn, and share rather than bring others down. Jealousy comes from within not from what others on the outside are doing.
[LS] What are some of the qualities you believe a person must have to build their own business/brand?
Work ethic. OMG I cannot stress that enough. A lot of people I come across will express their dream of owning their own business and say “I’m going to open my own salon,” but they have no clue how much work it takes. I have a lot of friends and family that look at what I’ve done like I’m some kind of magician. It’s not magic, it’s lots of work, stress, dedication, failures, crying, laughing, running on coffee, learning, starting over, brainstorming, and more. The first 18 months of my first business I worked 7 days a week, 14-16 hours a day. I didn’t go to dinner parties, didn’t go shopping, didn’t travel, didn’t do anything except dedicate myself to my business and its growth. If you’re truly not willing to sacrifice everything to see your business succeed then it’s not going to work. The whole Instagram-esque vision of a “business owner” with the perfect desk, fresh flowers, and Frappucino in hand is cute but it’s not always reality and being a business owner isn’t always glamorous. You can get to a glamorous and successful stage with your business, but it takes a lot of time to get there. I think most people start businesses, have a wake-up call, and then quit because they thought it was going to be a cake-walk or overnight they’d have Kim Kardashian reposting their pics. If you’re more realistic going into it I think it yields a better outcome.
[LS] What do you love most about your profession?
I love the creativity and the constant change and challenges. Most people when they think of a nail salon or the nail industry they think of the typical type of walk-in salons that are scattered all over the country. A place where you “pick your color” and “sit at chair #4”. It’s so funny because it’s the most common view clients have of nail techs, and yet it is such a small portion of the salons that really do exist in the world. Most nail technicians I know are mini Picassos on tiny nail canvases. Their creativity and ability to perfect a nail and enhance its beauty is amazing. The technology behind what we do with products is always changing and advancing. And one of the coolest things about the nail industry is that you can have people that never went to college become 6-figure business owners by sharing their craft and their passion with clients. It’s amazing and I think very empowering.
[LS] If you were to pinpoint a few tools for success, what would they be?
Outsourcing: When you have limited time and are spread thin, doing everything yourself does not work nor does it make sense. This was a big challenge for me as I am a complete control freak. Something as simple as enlisting a cleaning service was hard for me to do because I would say “I’ll just do it myself so I know it’s done the way I want it.” But it’s those little tasks like cleaning, or answering phone calls/emails, or managing my calendar that got to be really cumbersome. As you grow, outsource what you can that doesn’t really add value by you doing it yourself.
Personal Time: You will burn out if you don’t take care of yourself. I am a workhorse, but not necessarily in a good way. I’m one of those crazy focused people who can legit sit in front of my computer for 12 hours straight and not even eat or take a bathroom break. Great for getting stuff done but bad for longevity. As I started to break through the first couple years of business ownership I started to realize how long it had been since I had done something for myself. I also lost about 20 lbs from skipping meals on the go. Since then I’ve dedicated at least 90 minutes a day to Bikram Yoga and I also have the first Sunday of every month on my calendar set aside for sitting down with a cup of tea, a notebook, and thinking about my life, my achievements, my goals, and just sitting with myself and my thoughts. These two things have really helped provide balance in my working life and have helped to relieve stress, keep me healthy, and also provides mental clarity.
Family: One of the biggest challenges as a working female is balancing the demands of a husband, pets, family, friends, and all our loved ones. I was 27 when I opened my first business and I think as a late twenty-something I didn’t understand how to balance my personal life with work. I learned quickly from that and my husband (who is literally a saint) comes first. I always make an effort to ensure that his needs are being met and that we can connect and collaborate. It’s very easy to neglect our loved ones when we get busy. I think because we know they love us and so we take for granted that they will be there for us no matter what, but as the people we love most in this world we should treat them the best and put them first. Not always easy to do, but I think it’s an important goal to keep at the forefront of your mind at all times.
[LS] What advice can you give someone who has always had a regular job who may be considering going out on their own?
See my previous comments about work ethic. Lol. It’s all fun and games clocking in at 8 and clocking out at 5. When you work for yourself that ability to “leave work” goes away completely. You also have to be realistic about what it is you want to create a business from. I know it’s not fun to hear but some ideas are just bad ideas. Do your market research to test if your dream can truly be a reality. Is there demand? What are your start up needs? Operating cash? How long can you survive without a single customer? Is your idea scalable? It’s not as simple as people think and you truly have to be honest with yourself. I’m all for people trying and pursuing their passions, but you also need to balance your whimsical dreams with a dose of reality and cold hard numbers.
[LS] What advice would you give a young girl about getting out in the “real” world?
There’s no such thing as “the real world.” What you live now is your real world and it will continue to change and evolve every day. There isn’t a finish line, or a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I used to set those kind of milestones for myself. "When I _______ I’ll have made it.” The funny part is your definition of what that finish line is is always changing, and just like a mirage on the horizon it keeps moving away from you as you approach. Getting fixated like that can make you miss out on the moments you live now. My advice? Enjoy the ride. Notice the small stuff and realize that there is no “real world” or “mountain peak”. Life is truly about the journey, not to sound cliché but it’s true.
[LS] Finding a mentor is key. Do you have a female mentor or idol growing up who has significantly impacted your life? How?
I know this might sound horrible but I haven’t had great experiences with female mentors or interactions especially in my younger years. I’m what you might call “a lone wolf” and I’ve been like that since birth. Add to the fact that if I were to make a generalized statement about females they tend to be more tribe oriented. That never worked with my personality so I was always marked “an outsider”. It’s hard to explain in a written interview, but I’ve never identified with girls. Anyone who knows me and reads this will immediately smile and nod because they get exactly what I mean. I think that’s why what Hensi has done with Lipstick Sister has amazed me so much. Growing up I was always surrounded by girls (I call them girls because “women” is reserved for girls who actually deserve the title) who wanted to bring me down, not hold me up. To be honest my dad was really my true mentor and he taught me so much about what it is to be a good human being, a hard worker, and all about life. We used to work on cars together and it was the happiest time for me tinkering in the garage with my dad, rocking out to Cream, and listening to his stories and advice. My dad is who I would consider my mentor. My mom has always been a loving supporter as well and she’s always given me nothing but unconditional love. As an adult I have had the honor to have some great women in my life. My sister-in-law for one, my mother-in-law for two, and also some amazing friends I’ve earned along the way who have been cheerleaders for me and have always provided a positive beacon of energy.
[LS] What / who inspires YOU to get through each day & overcome every challenge?
My pride. Haha. What an egotistical thing to say but it’s so true. I am truly driven by pride in myself and what I do. I like going to bed each night with the peace of mind that I’m proud of myself and my accomplishments and I love to make others proud of me as well.
[LS] What is your definition of BEAUTIFUL?
To me beauty is strength. The true beauty I admire is beauty that comes from internal emotional strength and confidence. Nothing is more impactful to me than when a person has these traits and you can just feel it. It’s like a type confidence radiation that you can only admire and yearn to be a part of. People that have that vibe I just want to bask in their sunshine.
[LS} What is your favorite shade of Lipstick?
It’s a color called Russian Red. As a pale gal I look great in bluey red lipstick and red being a powerful color doesn’t hurt either. It instantly makes me feel like a million bucks to throw on some winged eyeliner and my Russian Red lipstick.
[LS] Why do you think women organizations like Lipstick Sister are important?
I think groups like this exist for people just like me! Women who have grown up surrounded by pettiness, misunderstanding, and a lack of belonging within their own gender. I am oh so proud of my sister-in-law Hensi Morris who founded Lipstick Sister, and not just because of what she has created. I’m proud because she has proven me wrong (which is hard to do, lol) about how women can be and the greatness that is possible when high quality women come together in a true manner of support and friendship.
[LS] Do you have a favorite quote that empowers you, if so, share it with us!
Oh man. So many. Believe it or not Marcus Aurelius is one of my favorite historical figures for quotes.
“You’ll more quickly find an earthly thing kept from the earth than you will a person cut off from other human beings.” – Marcus Aurelius –
What I like about this quote is it’s a good reminder about the fact that we need each other. I find that through our trials and tribulations in life we can become more aware of people’s faults and short comings and it can breed a sense of contempt for others. Struggle and difficulty in life can also isolate us. But at the end of the day humans are still social animals. We need each other, and we must be there for one another. We must care for others and more importantly allow others to care for us in return. It is in supporting other humans that we live our truest nature and we validate what it is to be a human being.