Two Ole Miss students have started separate, but complimentary businesses to help tan and paint their clients. Elizabeth Ann Walt and Callie Currin operate spray tan and nail painting businesses for Oxford locals and university students.
Walt created her business when she discovered she could earn money painting nails. “Oxford has such a high demand for girls wanting their nails done, and no nail shops are reasonably priced,” she said.
After watching many YouTube videos and training with a friend’s mom who has been painting nails for over 18 years, Walt started her business in February of her freshman year last semester.
“I first started doing the business in the Crosby floor 10 lounge,” she said, “and now I run it out of my apartment.”
While Walt was grateful for having open space in the dorms to start her business, she is now appreciative of her own Molly Barr apartment, where she has set up and continued her business, Mermaid Nails.
Walt was able to quickly pay back a loan her parents gave her to jump-start the venture. “I paid them back within two weeks,” she said.
Walt’s clientele is mostly college girls when she is living in Oxford. However, she has extended the business to serve friends and parents when she is home for summer and Christmas breaks.
Because of the business’ growing popularity, Walt has set aside one day a week for appointments to make time to balance school and friends. However, on her busiest times of the year, such as date parties and game day weekends, she schedules up to 20 appointments that day.
Walt offers acrylic nails for $25, gel nails for $15, and gel toes for $20. As a college sophomore, the most difficult part of her job is when someone shows up late. That makes her get behind with appointments and interrupts the time she has set aside for schoolwork. “I am very happy with where the business is right now,” she said.
Walt said she may get a license over Christmas break to avoid conflict with competing area nail salons.
Currin originally started her spray tan business in an older friend’s Molly Barr apartment during her freshman year at the University of Mississippi. She practiced until she mastered the skill. “My friends back home had to be the victims until I was able to finally get it right,” Currin said.
Now a sophomore, Currin works in her own apartment. “Before, I had to ask for permission and make sure my friend wasn’t at home,” she said. “But now, I can book appointments whenever I want. This makes business a whole lot easier for me and my clients.”
Currin’s busiest times are like Walt’s – formals, date party seasons, and game days. However, more girls have been requesting spray tans more frequently.
“Spray tans are on high demand these days,” said Currin, “so I try not to overcharge.” Currin’s current prices are $20, no matter what ‘tint’ you get.
Currin originally received a loan from her parents to pay for supplies, but since she started business right before the fraternities had their annual formals in New Orleans last spring, she was able to pay them back within the month. “Now, it is just a matter of managing my money with spending and keeping my supplies on hand,” Currin said.
Like Walt, Currin does not see expanding much more, but she has talked with Walt about doing business together during formal seasons and other big events to attract more customers for each of their businesses.
“It’s fun, because we’re in the same sorority, and friends live in the same area,” Currin said, “so we get to kind of go to the beat of our own drum and have fun with it.”