Karin Cardenas, a BYU-Idaho alumna, started her business when she was a student to help her get through college. Little did she know, she would be expanding into something larger with multiple employees.
Cardenas has always been interested in nails. Her father was born into the Catholic faith and one of the principles that his family lived by was that women should not wear makeup or paint their nails until they were 15 years old, which is an indication of womanhood.
“My dad said, ‘You cannot paint your nails until you are 12 and in Young Women’s,’ and he was dead set on that,” Cardenas said. “It drove me nuts as a kid. I would go to sleepovers and birthday parties, and they would do their nails, but my dad wouldn’t let me or he’d make me take (the nail polish) off.”
Once she was allowed to paint her nails, Cardenas got all the nail polish and nail tools she could find.
“It has always been so fun for me,” Cardenas said. “It was a good creative outlet and a fun hobby.”
Cardenas decided to go to nail school and make doing nails on others her college job. More recently, she wanted to take it more seriously and transform her hobby into a full-time career.
Cardenas wanted to set herself apart and not do the traditional acrylic fake nails.
“Back when I started nails, gel wasn’t a thing,” Cardenas said. “But now the world of gel has kind of evolved. As I have continued my education, I have realized there is a traditional way to do nails (via acrylics or nail polish), and now you can get that same effect, but with a healthier nail.”
Cardenas is a big advocate for gel nail polish in order to protect the integrity of the nail. She uses the company Luminary Nail Systems, which is not as damaging to your nails as acrylic nails.
As she has developed her company, Cardenas has been able to hire other nail technicians. She currently has eight techs and one studio manager who does not do nails.
“Starting out small is great, but you get to a point where hopefully you want to grow,” Cardenas said. “There is only so much growth that can happen where you are stuck in the same place, physically and mentally.”
There was a point where Cardenas had so many people reach out and want to book an appointment with her that she had to turn them away since she was maxed out. It was at that moment that she knew she wanted to hire other nail technicians to work for her. She could help them by training and mentoring them, but in return, they work for her and help the business gain more clients. It was a win-win situation.
Cardenas believes that there is no other specialized service like hers in Rexburg.
“There are traditional salons, but they do an OK, average job, but they don’t care about your natural nail health,” Cardenas said. “They don’t care about clean and sanitized areas and tools … I know because I have been there. Those things are important when it comes to nails. There is much more to ‘Oh, my nails are done and they look good.’ You need to check everything off the list.”
Cardenas wanted to create a place that is specialized and more up-to-date, not so traditional, and again, focus on the health of the nail.
“There is also a sense of pride that comes with using gel since it is your natural nail,” Cardenas said.
The main way that Cardenas markets her company is through her business’s Instagram page, and surprisingly, by word of mouth.
“I ask my clients to share photos of their nails on their page and to spread the word to their friends,” Cardenas said.
Jess Pearson, a BYU-I alumna, said she heard about Karin and Nailed It through a Sodavine employee while she was working there.
“I started following her Instagram and was immediately obsessed,” Pearson said. “She really is such a sweet individual, so easy to talk to and so professional. She is such an example to me of working hard and knowing your worth.”
When asked about what parting wisdom she would share with the people attending BYU-I or any college for that matter, Cardenas said that even though your degree may be in one thing, education and experience alone can help you in your future career.
You can follow Cardenas and her business on Instagram to see what Nailed It is up to.