Dedicated Nail Artist: Meet Adriana BonillaWelcoming clients into the comfort of her at-home nail salon
Showing off her extensions and nail swatches, junior Adriana Bonilla is ecstatic for her next client to visit her at-home nail salon. This passion has taught Bonilla many new skills, artistically, socially and professionally. “It's so exciting when friends and family will trust me with such big events,” Bonilla said. “When people have details that they need me for, it's nice that I can add something small to their special days.” Photo Credit: Paola Bonilla
Delicately brushing the nail polish, junior Adriana Bonilla has to be steady and precise to create a finished set of nails for her client. As she cleans up before her next appointment, Bonilla is proud of herself for being able to make her friends and family confident with these services.
Ever since she could remember, Bonilla loved the process of getting herself ready and looking presentable, peaking her interest in cosmetics.
“When I was little, I always liked getting myself ready,” Bonilla said. “That’s when I realized that nails were an important part of that. I really enjoyed the look of them, and for a long time my mom wouldn’t let me do them myself. Whenever I saw them, I thought they were really nice and guided myself into trying that art form.”
Lots of resources on the internet were at Bonilla’s fingertips, which allowed her to teach herself the many techniques that being a nail artist required.
“There were a lot of people from the community that helped me out and took advice from,” Bonilla said. “It was all through social media, really. I appreciated @nailsbykreepygirl when I came across her on TikTok, and she helped me a lot when I was just starting.”
Two years ago, at age fourteen, Bonilla finished her first set of nails. It might have been messy, but it still was a rewarding experience.
“We were planning my quinceanera at the time, and I was looking into nail artists,” Bonilla said. “When I saw how expensive it was for my liking, I realized it was a form of art that I enjoyed and could do myself. I was really nervous at first, because it could all easily go wrong if I didn’t do something right.”
With enough time and patience to grow her skill set, Bonilla now has her own at-home set up to cater to clients for nails.
“I do gel extensions, which means they aren’t like press-ons, they’re a form of hard gel on the nail,” Bonilla said. “I was nervous to work on other people, but with the encouragement of my friends and family I felt better and more comfortable. I love when people come with exciting stories and how they love my work, or when they support me.”
As with any small business, it took Bonilla time to establish herself and grow a consistent clientele.
“At first it was just working on friends and family,” Bonilla said. “That’s when I noticed they were more interested, and that’s when I realized that I had to set boundaries moneywise. It was a little rocky, but over the summer it peaked. There were a lot of people coming to me, and trusting me. I really enjoyed that, but it’s always been difficult as it’s still a small business. Although the days can become pretty long, it’s still something I enjoy, so I find the time.”
Different designs and sets have taught Bonilla what really goes into a final price, but she is still flexible with each client who visits her.
“It all depends on what they ask for and how intricate the designs are, some will want glitter, some will want rhinestones,” Bonilla said. “After that I try to manage how much I’m spending on my supplies, how much effort I am putting into sitting there and doing them, what I’m giving them, the quality of my work, how long they last, and my work ethic. It’s a lot to think about to maintain a balanced price.”
Since Bonilla’s setup is in her own home, she has to limit and regulate who is allowed to get their nails done.
“I do it at home and that is why I only do it with friends and family, or people I know,” Bonilla said. “It’s my home, and I have to trust you to let you in. I have a little cart on the side full of different tips and glitters, so I make sure everything is sanitary and clean since I’m bringing a lot of people in and out of the house.”
Communication between Bonilla and her clients is key, so she is clear with the limits of her skill set and comfort before each appointment.
“I try to do everything, whatever they want and whatever they expect,” Bonilla said. “I do communicate to my client with what I can and cannot do. Being set up at home can be difficult when I want to introduce a new client, I really have to trust individuals when I let them in. Sometimes it can become hard separating my work and my personal space.”
Bonilla’s friends and family have noticed a change in her character over the years and are excited to see her continually grow.
“It’s something that motivates her and has given her a drive to learn new things,” junior Naomi Sanchez said. “She’s become more confident and outgoing when talking to other people, and has learned to be professional in the right settings. I love having my nails done, and she does them really well, they give me a boost of confidence.”
For the future, Bonilla wants to keep pursuing this passion, though, not to the extent of becoming a full-time nail technician.
“I’d love to keep it as a side hustle because I do enjoy doing it,” Bonilla said. “I don’t think I’ll ever find myself not doing it at all. Right now I’m working on establishing a name for myself but I know there’s a little negativity around small businesses. I’ve thought about expanding my business in the sense of an online front and doing press-ons, so I’m working on that as well.”