Late as usual, but spring seems to have finally arrived. It was inching near 70 degrees the afternoon I visited Cheryl in Chicago’s Gold Coast – perfect weather for a bright manicure and some girl time. Cheryl sits patiently in her nail salon, Polish2Times, as I, like springtime, show up tardy for the party. ‘No worries! Have a seat.’ It’s obvious she’s had a busy day and I know there’s another client scheduled after me. Still, Cheryl promises she’ll make enough time for a thorough manicure finished with a frame-worthy nail design. “Anything you’d like to watch before we begin?” She’s got a library full of movies and sitcoms and a small flat screen television playing in the corner. I decide on Sade in concert, and we begin.
Cheryl’s a surprising sort of nail technician. In fact, she’s actually a lawyer by trade. Five years after passing the bar examination, she decided to attend cosmetology school. Now she practices law and moonlights as a manicurist. For a lesson in Side-Hustling 101, I grilled Cheryl on how she turned her creative passion into a profitable success.
How long have you been doing nails?
I’ve been doing my own nails for as long as I can remember. In 2007 I received my license in cosmetology and began working at a salon with the expectation of doing hair. Ultimately, I ended up doing nails and pedicures more than anything else.
The largest catalyst for me to continue with nails would probably have to be Facebook. I have an entire album featuring my nails. In the beginning, it was really just for a few of my friends. Then someone suggested I start blogging. I started blogging about nail designs and then I became more interested in pursuing a career in nail art. The blog came first, before the salon.
What’s your blog about?
Aside from salon information, the majority of posts feature what I’m doing on my own nails. When I’m working on nail art my mind is completely free. It’s what I love! I’m very much into nail care, but when I’m doing art there are no worries, no stress.
During the day, you’re still working as a lawyer?
What gave you the courage to go full force with your hobby in addition to your day job?
My sister. She’s so blunt and honest. When she said I was good, I knew I could do it. If I [wasn’t talented] she would say ‘Sit down! Have several seats. That’s ugly!’ (Laughs) She’s straightforward and for her to believe in me – I knew I could do it. She’s also my business manager.
What sets you apart from other nail artists in Chicago?
I’m still cementing my brand’s unique style. My inspiration comes from so many different places. I find that fashion really inspires me. I’m into bright colors. If I see a color I love I’ll put it on my nails. So I’m still working out my art identity. However, I do like cohesion. I like there to be some type of theme with my designs. It doesn’t necessarily have to match on all ten fingers but I like there to be a main idea. I’ve seen nails that are all over the place as far as the design is concerned. It looks great, but that’s not my style. I think part of that comes from being in the corporate world. I’m used to having a plan of action.
What can a first time client expect when visiting Polish2Times?
They can expect an enjoyable experience and the desire to show off their nails when they leave. That’s my main goal; I want you to love your nails as much as I love doing them. A lot of times people come in believing they can only wear certain colors. I say, try everything. If you love it, wear it!
What does the future look like for Polish2Times?
Really, I feel like I haven’t had time to absorb what I’ve already done. I’m still in shock! Things are swirling so fast.
I would love to expand. In the future, I’d love to find like-minded artists and experts to work with.
My manicure, by the way, came out beautifully- and with time to spare!
Nail art photos are via Cheryl’s blog, www.polish2times.com. Find ‘Polish2Times’ on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
Reserve an appointment via StyleSeat to visit Cheryl at her salon Polish2Times located at 100 East Walton Street, Suite 110, Chicago, IL.