I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of sitting in my tiny studio apartment looking at my rich friends’ Instagrams. “You’re on vacation? Again?! Hate you Miss youuuu!!” But 2013 is the year to stop double-clicking and start double-doing! All week long, we’re talking to young entrepreneurs about how they turned their dreams into realities, and how you can start a business of your own. Today’s business extraordinaire: Rad Nails founder Chrissy Mahlmeister.
According to Business Insider, only one in four U.S. companies are run by women. 26-year-old Chrissy Mahlmeister, Assistant Editor at our sister-blog MTV Style, is one of them. Her company Rad Nails makes other instant nail art look like generic doctor’s office stickers. Ever wanted to get your hands on Ryan Gosling…or, rather, Ryan Gosling on your hands? Well now you can!
Photo: Hot man-icure. (Rad Nails)
Although fewer women run businesses than men, the number of female-owned firms is growing twice fast as the number of male-owned firms. Chrissy’s passion for her work is a great example of why…
ACT: How did you first get started?
CHRISSY: During the day, I work as a writer/editor for the MTV Style blog, so fashion and beauty are always at the forefront of my mind. I started becoming unhealthily obsessed with nail art in late 2010 (thanks, Tumblr!), and I slowly began to immerse myself in the nail art scene in New York because I was genuinely interested in it. I found the ladies behind the killer nail designs legitimately AMAZING, and I knew I had to be a part of it.
Unfortunately, I have absolutely no fine art skills, (I mean, my handwriting is barely legible, people), and then I started thinking about all the girls out there in the middle of nowhere who were just like me — in dire need of badass nail art, but seriously lacking in painting skills. I told my boyfriend, Josh Covarrubias, about how I wanted to make badass nail art decals (unlike the straight-up, mass-market striped, glitter, and star nail strip designs that were sold in drugstores), and he said, “Let’s do it!”
I was hesitant at first since I’ve never even taken a business class in my, um, entire LIFE, but together we thought of some dope nail ideas, a great brand name, and went to building a website right away. Thanks to the Internet, you can get a business up and running in literally no time at all, and, hey, what did I have to lose? Literally a week after putting our products up, we were on Refinery29, Glamour, Teen Vogue, MSN, Seventeen, HelloGiggles, and Huffington Post, just to name a few. Our decals had gone viral, and we knew our business had officially begun.
ACT: How did you know nail art was for you?
CHRISSY: To be honest, when I first started making nail decals with Ryan Gosling’s face on them (seriously, we make those) alone in my apartment, I started to wonder if: (a) anyone but me would care, or (b) if this was a waste of time. But, because I have such tunnel vision when it comes to doing things I like, I didn’t care if anyone saw it or not — I’m just making something I love and trying to share it with the world. That’s when I knew it was something I had to do.
Photo: (Chrissy Mahlmeister)
ACT: What are some obstacles you faced while starting your business, and how did you overcome them?
CHRISSY: As a person that never studied business, basically everything was an obstacle because I knew absolutely nothing about LLCs, trademarks, contracts, or wholesaling. I’m still overcoming obstacles every day since my company is less than a year old, but I think the most difficult thing we encountered was finding a manufacturer based in New York City. I almost gave up on my search because I thought I’d never, ever find someone to produce our product, but eventually we stumbled upon a company in Brooklyn and decided to give it one last shot. And here we are today — happy as all get-out. The three months of constant struggle and hopelessness paid off in the end, but those were some seriously low days, I have to say. Don’t give up!
ACT: What are the benefits of running your own business versus working for someone else?
CHRISSY: Well, I can’t say too much since I still technically work for someone else at the moment (hi, MTV!), but I have to say doing your own thing is absolutely empowering. You have the final say on everything — you’re the one making all the decisions, you’re the one doing the business calls, you’re the one making the product, and it’s AWESOME. There’s an incredible feeling you get when you see a product you’ve created start to finish and how happy it can make others feel. It’s inspiring to see when people take your product to the next level, too! Being your own boss rules.
ACT: What would you say is the first step to starting a business?
CHRISSY: Find something you’re genuinely passionate about or else this whole thing isn’t going to work. Imagine the not fun parts like, say, being up at 3 AM on a Tuesday night doing an Excel document of your inventory, and how much it would suck if you’re not actually interested in the business you have created. Once you have that, pick a brand name (make sure the URL isn’t taken!) and get that baby a website. Just doing that will put you above tons of others who have an idea, but never actually executed it.
ACT: What advice do you have for young people looking to start their own businesses in 2013?
CHRISSY: Get it started right now — no excuses. It’s never going to be perfect right off the bat, but just get that website up and start sharing it! Seriously, I can’t even tell you how many people have ideas they never, ever follow through with it because they are too scared to take risks. So many ladies have come up to me “wishing” they could launch their idea… but why is it a wish? Do it! If you need funds, use Kickstarter. With the Internet, it’s so easy to put up a website and gain traction quickly, and if it’s something you’re incredibly passionate about it’ll be easy to spread the word since it’s coming from the heart.
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