Jessie Pang: Stony Brook Nail Artist

Traveling by foot from her off-campus home, recent Stony Brook grad, 24 year old, Jessie Pang, walks Stony Brook’s familiar campus terrain to her clients' dorms. Knowing only of their preferred nail color, phone number and Facebook picture she meets with different students without knowing who they are.

Bringing along her black book bag decorated with different buttons and a smile, Jessie usually meets her clients in their dorms throughout the day taking between two-three appointments a day. Doing nails has become a network tool she uses to not only practice one of her passions but a useful tool to meeting new people.

“Doing people's nails requires meeting a lot of new people that I never met before,” Pang, said.

Jessie, a former international student from Hong Kong, has been doing her own nails for sometime and decided to take on the challenge of doing other peoples nails two years ago by practicing on her own hands and friends. 

 

“My friends asked me to do their nails then suggested me to do other people's nails on the side and charge them.” Pang, said.

Some international students, aren’t able to receive paid work in the U.S due to many reasons, a big one being, having the authorization to do so. To combat this some become entrepreneurs and create their own business on or offline. Having a degree in studio art and a minor in digital art, you can find Jessie, advertising and posting throughout social media like Instagram and Facebook with her nail designs and graphics showcasing her art to the world.

“If my degree doesn’t help me with my designs, it helps me with my promotions,” Pang, said.

Millennial entrepreneurs like herself are becoming a rarity according to The Atlantic’s “The Myth of the Millennial Entrepreneurs”, stating how America’s competitiveness as an economy is dwindling along with many small businesses. With approximately 30-40 customers in total so far, many of them return to Pang every few weeks. Depending on what her customers want it could cost them from as little as ten dollars for basic gel nails to as high as forty dollars for more intricate 3D designs and gel extensions.

“I follow a lot of nail artist on Instagram, I sometimes recreate their design or draw the whole set of nails on a piece of paper based on characters or patterns I like.” Pang said.

Making around $200 dollars a week, Jessie uses her own products she buys offline on her customers. Charging less than local nail salons in Suffolk that charge approximately 30-40 dollars for just a manicure of gel nails, Jessie makes less than minimum wage to upkeep her business and her customers. Sticking to her price list so that she makes a decent profit from her work.

“One time I had a person ask me how much is a gel extension and then I tell them the price and then they said that’s really expensive, can you make it cheaper? I tell them how I use my own products on them and that I make less than minimum wage. Then they said that they called a nail salon in the mall and that the mall said they charge $25 for gel extension. Then I said wow that’s a really good deal then go to the mall. After I call the mall asking how much they charge, they said $60,” Pang, said. “I still don’t know if that customer was just lying about the price or asked for the wrong thing.”

The proximity of where she lives off campus with her boyfriend and the school is convenient for both her and her customers who call on Jessie not only for her great work, and price but also convenience.

“A lot of people say that they don’t have many options around campus,” Pang, said. “My customers don’t have to walk far away and come back. I come to them.”

Even though Jessie doesn’t have a license to do nails, she plans on going to school and getting her certificate this upcoming summer. In ten years she hopes to, either be working for a graphic design company or having her own nail salon and plans on staying in the U.S.