Professional dorm manicures that hit the nail on the head

First-year Katie Simmons brings her nail company to Trinity


Katie Simmons

Nail Art Done By Katie Simmons

During the COVID-19 pandemic, first-year Katie Simmons spent a lot of time on TikTok, leading her to discover a new hobby and passion for nail art and manicure designs. Simmons always had a love for getting her nails done before the pandemic, and with nail salons and spas being closed during lockdown, Simmons ventured out and took the initiative to learn and teach herself.

Nail art and design are popular attributes of one’s style and look and can add a lot of expression to how one may present themselves. The color, shape and style of manicured nails vary according to preference as well as seasons, holidays and trends. While getting a manicure can cost anywhere from $35 to $70, Simmons came up with a niche idea to learn to do it herself and create a business out of it.

“One day I was scrolling through YouTube and TikTok and found this tutorial of a girl who did her own nails and had a starter kit. I instantly followed her and bought all of the same supplies and kept watching her tutorials,” Simmons said.

During lockdown, Simmons used her mom and sister as her guinea pigs and kept trying to learn how to effectively do their nails. Simmons shared that once she learned how it was instantly rewarding because the nail designs were long-lasting and she improved with every design. Simmons also shared that she is the type of person to not ask for more designs and hesitates to ask for what she wants when she goes into nail salons. The most important and meaningful part of her hobby is to make unique and cool nail designs on others’ nails.

Nail Art Done By Katie Simmons (Katie Simmons)

“Sometimes I find it hard to communicate with nail technicians and really say what I want because I know the look I’m going for. That’s why I decided to focus more on just nail art and design and let customers communicate clearly with me what they want their nails to look like,” Simmons said.

In May 2021, Simmons took her passion and premature business to the next step as she started promoting her brand and doing her friends’ nails. She also began charging around $25 to $60 depending on the style and design her clients wanted, and now accepts payment through Venmo or cash. Simmons uses especially high-quality nail products and techniques to ensure she does a great job.

Natalie Kim, a first-year student, shared her experience with getting her nails done by Simmons.

“She was very professional and she also had a TV setup where we could watch Netflix for customers. Also, it was in her dorm room so it’s really accessible for students like me who don’t have a car and can go off campus,” Kim said.

Picture of Katie Simmons’ nail set up in her dorm. (Katie Simmons)

In summer 2021, Simmons’ nail Instagram account, @kt_polish, was in action. Simmons posted others’ nail designs and her work to market and advertise her company. She gained a successful following over time and had friends and others repost her posts on their Instagram stories.

“I loved the support I was getting and it encouraged me to keep posting and keep my business going. The more I saw people wanting to share my designs and pictures it made me feel like people were keeping track of my progress and it motivated me,” Simmons said.

Once Simmons arrived at Trinity, she documented her relocation on Instagram and hoped to gain followers and clients at Trinity as well. In the first few weeks, Simmons designed “Trinity-inspired” nails and tagged Trinity Admissions. These nail designs were reposted by Trinity Admissions and led to a peak in interest from many students.

“When I first got here people already sort of knew who I was. I would get told, ‘Oh my gosh I know who you are, you’re the nail girl,’” said Simmons.

Simmons usually spends, on average, an hour and a half doing a client’s nails. At first, this hobby came with huge initial costs, as she had to buy bulk quantities of all the nail supplies. Now, she said she feels as though she is getting her money’s worth and that it’s really paying off. Simmons said that there is a lot of effort that goes into keeping her business alive, but she really enjoys it and views it as a reward and “lifelong skill.”

Nail Art Done By Katie Simmons (Katie Simmons)

“On average I get two to three customers a week, especially during busier seasons, like Halloween. Halloween was crazy, I had so many appointments scheduled. I make sure I clean and use proper sanitization as well. It is kind of hard to do it in a dorm room, but I make sure to buy good-quality products so the room doesn’t smell. I have a collapsible table and everything in a bag, so I have to set up and take down everything per client. It’s definitely worth it though. It’s a niche and fun hobby I love doing,” Simmons said.