According to the Center for American Progress, it has been reported that minority women lead more than 25% of the 8 million women-owned businesses in the United States, a figure that is only expected to rise. Today, digital management and tools can help small business owners achieve marked success with low barriers of entry.
One of these industries is the beauty industry and Master Nail Artist Sashanie Gray has found her place in it. Born and raised in Jamaica, West Indies, Gray has an overwhelming passion for her work and has been grooming nails and creating ?nail art? since the adventurous age of 16. Being an artist by trade has allowed her to create cutting edge, one-of-a-kind nail designs for her clients. Serving as a nail specialist to women on-the-go has always brought her great joy and purpose.
Since going professional, Gray has been on a trail-blazing course to becoming a master at her craft. Becoming a team member of the New York-based event production/brand management firm, MLM Represents, during Fashion Week 2012 has afforded her the opportunity to work with a number of fashion industry giants including but not limited to, Vera Wang, Elle Fashion, Parke & Ronen, Kithe Brewster, Lisa Blue, Dolores Cortes, White Sands, Kooey, Agua Bendita, Rana Rojo, Cia Maritima, L space by Monica Wise, Wildfox, and Rose Jean by Vanessa Simmons. To date, her work can be seen in publications such as Russian Vogue, Women?s Health Magazine, and Snow Magazine.
Currently based in South Florida,?she continues to provide paramount nail care for her ever-growing portfolio and clientele. Her worldwide freelance bookings include a list of specialties such as natural nails, custom nail art, editorial and fashion week events & shows, and gel and liquid/powder enhancements.
Here, Gray talks to TNJ.com.
TNJ.com: How did you get into the business, make a name for yourself and get the big-name clients such as Vera Wang, Elle, and Vanessa Simmons?
Sashanie Gray: I was able to make a name for myself in the nail industry primarily because of my passion for it. It started off being a hobby and then it manifested into a ?jobby!? I?ve invested in myself, taken classes and the more I practiced, the better I became. And social media helped a lot, too. So I would say referrals, social media and talent have gotten me to where I am right now.
TNJ.com: How do you find clients?
S.G.: Mostly through StyleSeat, which is a marketplace/portal for beauty and wellness services. I have my StyleSeat account attached to my social media pages so that people are able to read about me. StyleSeat, for me, is like a Facebook page for professionals so that people actually get a chance to know me, read referrals and see photographs of my work. And lately, StyleSeat has been getting more recognition. As a result, I?ve been getting more bookings directory from the StyleSeat platform.
TNJ.com: Do you find that there?s a great need for master manicurists?
S.G.: Absolutely. Not bashing chain nail salons, but a lot of them don’t take the time to invest in safety and education. So you?re getting more cases of clients getting infected with fungal and bacterial infections. So, it?s become more in demand for people like myself who care about healthcare and the safety of my clients.
TNJ.com: Do you go to people?s houses or work out of a salon?
S.G.: I have private clients at their homes and I also have private clients at salons.?
TNJ.com: What do you like most about what you do?
S.G.: I love everything about what I do, particularly making people feel better about themselves simply by polishing their nails. They?re leaving with a nice, clean manicure. I always like to say that clients will leave better than when they came in. If that leaves them feeling rejuvenated, then I?m happy to do it. Overall for me, it?s all about the health and wellness of the client.
TNJ.com: What advice would you give people who want to get into this field?
S.G.: The first question I would ask the person is, ?Are you passionate about it?? If so, everything will fall into place. You will want to get continuing education. You will want to satisfy your clients by giving them your all, your best. And by doing that, you?re investing in yourself.
TNJ.com: Has the work been lucrative for you?
S.G.: For me, it?s been very lucrative. These days, there are so many channels within the nail industry for you to have multiple streams of income. You don’t have to be just a manicurist within the salon walls anymore. You can do editorial, fashion, print, production and education. And I dibble dabble in just about all of these areas.?
TNJ.com: What measures do you take to improve on your craft?
S.G.: I do a lot of research & development. I read about up-and-coming trends and about health and safety issues in the industry. So I improve upon my skills in the practical sense, but also through research.
(For a related article about working in the beauty industry, CLICK HERE.)