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The Linfield Review

The student news site of Linfield University

The Linfield Review

The student news site of Linfield University

The Linfield Review

Nail Check: A Linfield Story about Overcoming Anxiety and finding Campus Connections

Courtesy+of+Ciara+Graham
Courtesy of Ciara Graham

The affordable and creative nails are what draws clients in, but it’s really the atmosphere and comfortability that guests are given when they meet their nail tech, Ciara Graham.

Graham is a freshman psychology major who has recently started making a name for herself and her side hustle. Formerly a part of the Black Student Union on the Linfield University campus, Graham has since focused all of her attention to perfecting her craft.

While Graham has only been doing nails for this past year at Linfield University, she has been learning about the profession for a lot longer — nearly four years, right around when COVID-19 started. This has since blossomed into a passion for her.

“At nail tech salons, you just never feel comfortable saying no,” Graham said. “I just don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. My number one (rule) is just to make (clients) feel welcomed and then making sure they feel in charge of (their nails) because they’re the ones paying.”

Graham is very adamant on making sure her clients feel comfortable, welcomed and that their voice matters during her sessions. When booking, guests are allowed two people to accompany them, but Graham just needs a heads-up first. And while she does have the basic nail service, she also offers a silent service so if clients are not in the mood to make small talk, they have the choice to be completely silent in their appointment.

While being the campus nail tech seems sweet and fun, Graham has occasionally run into some difficulties — being a full-time student and navigating busy college schedules between clients to name a few.

“It’s hard trying to put in those hours because it’s a long time doing these nail sets,” Graham said. “I think the number one thing is just timing and being able to say like, ‘Okay, well, I have this many classes and I can’t really fit you in.’ ”

The job does have rewards, though.

For Graham, social anxiety is something she has struggled with all throughout high school to the point where a majority of her classes were online and she was only attending one in-person class. However, coming out of her shell is something she attributes to starting her side hustle, as well as tending to her first customer. Graham recalls her hands shaking and sweating upon the first time meeting. But this quickly resided.

“My first ever client was this girl named Samera Saryon. I love her so much,” Graham said. “She just made me feel like I was comfortable doing these styles because she tests me to my limits every single time. She is not scared to do something I’ve never done before and she’s not scared to sit there for two hours and let me get a nail design down.”

Saryon loves getting her nails done, and when the opportunity opened to get them done with the affordability and comfortability on campus, she was ecstatic to trust Graham.

“I always let her try new designs just so she can have more experience of doing other styles and not the same thing over and over again,” Saryon said. “You always want your friend to expand their work and build their portfolio, as well as do better than before.”

Courtesy of Ciara Graham @booked.b.c

Similarily so, Linfield junior Charlotte Ingalls has been going to Graham since she started her side hustle. For Ingalls, it’s the comfortability factor that draws her in.

“The comfortability of getting nails done by her rather than a normal nail salon is unmatched,” Ingalls said. “She is not only knowledgeable about the health of your nails but also listens to all your wants and needs and has you leaving with the nails you wanted.”

For Graham, this hustle is a reward in many different ways. She’s had the opportunity to meet many different groups across campus. From the sorority girls getting their nails done for their formals to strangers coming for a new set and to her best friends continuously supporting her, Graham’s network has expanded beyond reach on the Linfield Univeristy campus.

“Being on campus and college has definitely made it easy for me to get out because I’m living with so many other people and I’m hearing all these new conversations and meeting all these people,” Graham said. “So doing their nails and being with them one-on-one and having these conversation, I think it’s definitely pushing me to be way more social. I’m happy with my friends now.”

For Graham, being the campus nail girl has been nothing but rewarding.

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About the Contributor
Mariah Johnston
Mariah Johnston, Life and Culture Editor
Mariah Johnston is a junior JAMS major and anthropology minor. While being born and raised in Elko, Nev., she always knew she wanted to move to the PNW. She is editor of the Life and Culture section of The Linfield Review. When she is not working for The Review, she is involved in other jobs on campus, such as writing for Voices of Linfield, a member of the JAMS promo team and a member of Alpha Phi. Recently, she started an internship with the Willamette Valley Visitors Association serving as a content creating intern. Her hobbies include photography, hiking, and anything outdoors, as she has recently gotten into snowboarding and surfing. After college, she hopes to pursue a master's degree in photojournalism, and land a job writing in the travel industry.

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