Now that I am a senior at Williams, I can clearly see how consumed I was by my academics and the overwork culture of this college. During my junior year and during most of 2020, I had a tough wakeup call that my life was quickly passing me by, and I did not know who I was outside of being a student. I did not have interests. I did not have goals. I did not have hobbies. As I realized all of this, I obviously felt terrible and started on my slow journey of discovering who I truly am at my core, what my interests are, and what my values are. I am sure you can imagine that this was not an easy mission. Over this past year or so, I’ve tried out tons of hobbies. Some have stuck (I learned how to ride a bike in 2020 and quickly became obsessed) and others have dissipated (I'm looking at you embroidery hoops sitting in my closet). Most recently, I decided to return to an old love of mine to see if the spark was still there.
Nail art has been something I have loved for as long as I can remember, but during my time in high school and for most of college, this love took a backseat to other demands in my life, particularly academic ones. In February 2021, I made my return to the nail art world after feeling myself getting consumed by the spring semester and looking for a creative outlet that I could also use to de-stress.
At first, I was only thinking about making nails for myself. However, I then started making nails for friends, something I loved because it let me bring someone else’s artistic vision to life while letting me create something. While I was practicing on nails for my friends, I never planned on selling my nails because I didn't (and still do not) want this to become an arduous, stressful task. Instead, I want nail art to be a hobby that allows me to detach from the expectations of productivity, perfection, and profit that are placed on me in every other aspect of my life. At the same time, I love making nails for my friends. I love the conversations with my friends that come while I measure their nails, the chance to catch up over filing nails into almond and coffin shapes, and the excitement of giving my friends nails that they felt equally excited about receiving.
Although I was initially scared of the idea of selling nails, over time, my friends started encouraging me to sell my nails and to own my re-discovered talent. For several weeks, I laughed it off. I always shook my head at the idea of my art being sold online and at the prospect of making an Instagram page for my nails. Until one day, two friends insisted on paying for the nails I created for them. The fact that I had friends not only pushing me to own my talent and develop my interests, but also had friends investing in me felt really special and is what gave me the impetus to expand my hobby into a small business here in Williamstown, and in late March 2021, GECKO Nails Co. was established.
The name GECKO stands for Grace, Empathy, Compassion, Kindness, and Openness. These are values that are important for me as a person, and that I genuinely try to carry into my everyday life however I can. While I may not always perfectly embody the values of GECKO, I am regularly grounded by these values and use them to remind myself of what I want to carry into my relationship with others and my relationship with myself. I chose to name my nail company after these values because I want to constantly remind myself that nail art should primarily be a hobby and an outlet that inspires positive self-growth through leisure and caring for myself as a whole person. When I see GECKO, I am reminded of what the point of jumping into nail-art as a hobby truly is for me––a reminder to slow down and take care of all aspects of myself. When I am making these nails, they are not just a product being prepared to be sold to someone. They are a source of love, joy, compassion, and comfort that I want to share and hope the person receiving the nails feels when they get their order.
Now, it is late April and I am still completely in love with the process of creating nails for myself and for others. I have sold a few sets of nails, and I have loved being able to deliver them to friends around campus and add a boost of joy to their day.
The GECKO Instagram page is up and running and has allowed me to keep an archive of my work which I look forward to reflecting on. So far, I can happily say that creating nails has NOT become stressful and has not become another “thing I have to do”. Instead, I am genuinely growing to love it more and more every single day.
I encourage you to carry the values of GECKO with you into your day to day life as much as you can.
If you want to see GECKO in action and order a set for yourself, make sure to follow @Geckonailsco on Instagram.