Sometimes I think back on where I started doing nails, and the wild journey that resulted in me running my own online business. I started off just buying polish from the dollar section at CVS whenever I got some money from my mom, and now I'm making nails for hundreds of people a month.
I can't think of a time in my life where I wasn't completely obsessed with everything nails, including my own and those on the people around me. I remember when I would sit for hours on the floor of my room trying to create delicate nail art with cheap, stubby brushes. And if I couldn't do my own nails, everyone else was an acceptable target that, to me, was in desperate need of glamification. Whether it was my mom, my sister, or the exposed hands of a sleeping father or brother, someone's nails were getting painted. And for years, that's all it was. A hobby I was unconsciously preparing to spend the most of my time perfecting.
As I got older, I got more attention around my nails. Going to a school with uniforms meant my creativity was expressed through my nails, because accessorizing was the only way to stand out. I became so used to the weekly routine of coming up with some nail art that would perfectly capture my mood for that week, that even when I switched to a school with no uniforms, it felt felt wrong to not display my feelings through my hands.
So I continued on, years of nail art, hundreds of bottles of polish, and flattering compliments from those around me. My favorite question is always, "Oh my goodness, who does your nails???" Something about that question always makes me feel so proud, especially because I don't think anyone else has ever done my nails (besides slumber party shenanigans). Even to this day, the only time I step foot in a nail salon is to get a pedicure. To know that something I did for fun became something so admired and wanted by others made that weekly routine so much better.
Eventually, I started getting requests from friends to do their nails. For a while I never charged, and only did others nails occasionally and if I was already hanging out with them. It wasn't until I was graduating high school and got to college that I really started exploring different kinds of nail art and mediums like acrylic and press-ons.
I started making press-ons for myself during my senior year of high school for homecoming. I was sick of the waiting period for my nails to dry, because I never failed to bump at least one of my nails before they fully dried, no matter how many years I'd been doing it. I absolutely could not risk bumping my homecoming nails (again, because yes, I bumped them every year prior). I instantly fell in love with the convenience of being able to paint my nails, walk away and do whatever I wanted with my hands, then being able to come back and stick on fully dry nails.
Fast forward to my sophomore year of college, I had started learning about acrylics and all but left press-ons behind. The quick drying times of the acrylic had me sold, and I finally moved into the world of gel polish, I was truly in my prime. By my second semester I had enough knowledge about acrylic to start teaching a course, but once again it was a skill that was just for me.
Then out of nowhere, I got an email that I went over my hours in my work study job and was unable to work for the rest of the semester. I was ranting to my friends about how I was suddenly jobless and had no clue who was hiring when they all said, as if the solution couldn't be any more clear and they had no clue why I hadn't already thought of it, "well, why don't you start doing nails?"
Suddenly, I was running a business and Sculpted by Maya was born. I was doing house calls for acrylic services, and business was booming. I was able to do nails and actually get paid, and I had started forming bonds with my first couple of regular clients. The prime I thought I was in before was nothing compared to this. I was unstoppable.
Then, as quick as it started, everything halted when COVID started. I was back home, unemployed, and doing my own nails at my mom's dining room table. I remember thinking that was a crazy short run, and I couldn't believe how once I discovered how much I love doing not only my own nails, I would have to stop for who knows how long.
Then, I remembered the thing that had made my life so much easier and involved doing nails without touching anyone's hands: press-ons. It was like I had come full circle. I vetted the idea to some friends and family who completely shot the idea down, said "F*** it, if I think it's a good idea, it's a good idea," and opened my online store anyway.
Through many years, and a series of unfortunate events that I forced to be fortunate for myself, I created this brand. And here I am almost 2 years later, single-handedly operating SculptedbyMaya.com, which was only supposed to be a temporary place holder for acrylic services. Funny how things work out, right?