Stuck at home during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Erielle Ortiz has been passing the time with a hobby she’s always been interested in: getting her nails done.
“I’ve always had my nails done, acrylics and all,” said Ortiz, a junior public health specialist. “They’ve always been extravagant sets and things. It has always been something that interests me and I am self taught. Over the years I’ve really observed how it’s done and applied it to doing it myself.
She hit the ground running after her then-boyfriend gave her nail supplies, “going all out” and practicing detailed sets.
A month later, she started her own business: Nails by Erielle. She started selling $20 sets in her hometown of Queens, New York.
“I was born and raised in Queens, so I generally know a lot of people there,” she said. “My friends have been super helpful in sharing my posts, sharing that I’ve started getting my nails done. The $20 sets were what really got people hooked.
But his business has really taken off at UB. He gets most of his clients from campus, where word of mouth has brought new clients into the fold.
Some of her regulars have been customers since she first opened, something she says makes her “appreciated more,” considering the other “really good” nail technicians on campus.
Aside from her nail skills, she believes her “welcoming rapport” with clients makes her business special. During appointments, she listens to music or TV shows, provides phone chargers, and chats with her clients if they seem interested in the conversation.
She honed those interpersonal skills as a home care professional, where she provides home care for elderly clients (Ortiz aspires to be a nurse).)
“It [home care] it gives me a lot of background information and hands-on experience,” she said. “It’s something I like to do. I have great relationships with my clients. [client’s homes]it is nothing but positive energy.
While she admits her home care clients sometimes “have their days,” she says bad days are few and far between.
“Nursing has always been something I’ve wanted to do,” Ortiz said. “I have always liked helping people. I have an autistic sister so this really helps me with being patient and with helping them with whatever they need.
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Ortiz’s family continues to support his future plans and nail business. After her family began to see that nails were something she “took seriously” about, her older sister bought her a nail table, which has a surface made to protect against chemicals like acetone, which is used as a nail polish remover.
“My mom and dad are probably my biggest supporters,” she said. “They are always so proud. I would send my mom [pictures of] a lot of the nails I would do and she would be like, ‘I wish I could do those’ but she just can’t do the long nails and all that extra stuff.
She describes her parents as people who “made sure I worked for what I wanted,” a lesson that shaped her into who she is today.
While Ortiz isn’t exactly sure where her business will be in the future, she thought about taking Nails By Erielle’s to the “next level.”
“I feel like it’s going well right now, better than I really thought,” she said.
Ortiz plans to expand her business and start selling press-ons to “people who can’t wait three hours” for her to get her nails done.
Find out more about Nails by Erielle at @nailsbyerielle on Instagram.
Jasmin Yeung is an assistant news/feature editor and can be contacted at [email protected]