Student business nails it at Suffolk

Nail+art+as+designed+by+Catari+Giglio

Courtesy of Catari Giglio

Nail art as designed by Catari Giglio

As a nail technician and full-time student, sophomore Catari Giglio is running her own acrylic nail business at Suffolk University while tackling all the challenges of college life.

Giglio’s affinity for nails began when she was 14. Growing up, she had seen women on social media and girls at her school with pristinely decorated nails, and found herself vying for the same thing.

“I wanted to get [my nails] done so badly, but my parents couldn’t really afford to take me to the salon every two weeks,” Giglio said. “I got them done for my birthday one time and I fell in love with them so much, I wanted to have nails on all the time.”

Inspired, Giglio was determined to find a way to learn how to apply and decorate acrylic nails herself.

“I found this really cheap beginners kit for acrylics at CVS,” she said. “And that’s when I just kind of started doing my own nails.”

What started off as a personal passion quickly developed into a busines

s. Giglio started taking clients during her senior year of high school, becoming a part-time nail technician while being a full time student.

“It just developed into a business and into a passion, really. I love nails, it’s almost a little obsession. I appreciate not just how pretty they are, but also the technique that it takes to do them. Knowing how to handle the product, the brushes, there’s just so many things people don’t know that go into nails,” Giglio said.

When Giglio came to Suffolk, bringing her business with her was an easy decision.

“I noticed that in the [student] group chats over the summer, right before freshman year, a lot of the girls were talking about ‘oh, we’re moving to Boston now, we need a new nail tech,’ and I [said], ‘Actually, I do nails and I’m going to be doing them at the dorms,’” Giglio said. “They were all so excited.”

Giglio even had a client during her move-in day freshman year, and from there she said word spread like a wildfire.

During her freshman year, the Suffolk dorms had tight restrictions on guests and occupancy. While Giglio said she was cautious to follow the restrictions for everyone’s safety, she noted that it added an additional challenge.

“It was a little difficult with restrictions, definitely, but I made sure to not have more than one person in my room at a time,” she said. 

Giglio said she also requested that clients wore masks during the appointment.

However, COVID-19 was not the only challenge Giglio faced while building her business at Suffolk. She said managing her time between her business and school can be difficult, and that it was a particular challenge last year.

“I think one of the mistakes I made freshman year was that I didn’t have a set schedule for nail appointments, and even if I did, I kept making exceptions for people,” said Giglio.

To remedy this, she said she took occasional breaks to focus on her own responsibilities outside of her business.

Since her freshman year, Giglio said she has found a balance between school and her business. By creating a set schedule and now only taking appointments on the weekends, Giglio has been able to better manage her responsibilities.

“I adore doing nails, I love it, and I wish I could dedicate more time to it than I actually do now, but there needs to be a balance with school,” Giglio said.

Looking to the future, Giglio admitted she wasn’t too sure where she saw her passion going, but said she would love to own a small nail studio for her to work out of.

While she said she didn’t see herself running a full salon, Giglio aspires to make her passion more than just a “side hustle.” She said seeing her own growth and progress in her art inspires her to continue working towards her dream.

“I have pictures from all the way back from when I started of nail sets that I used to do versus the ones I do now, and I think, at least for me, it’s so satisfactory to see the progress and see how much I’ve improved over the years,” Giglio said.

While she said she has improved a lot since she first started doing nails, her artistry is not the only skill Giglio has developed. She said her business has also taught her valuable lessons about respect and mediation in many types of situations. 

“It’s taught me to deal with all kinds of different people, because even though I love it, it’s a customer service job and we know there can be complications with clients from time to time,” she said. “But I think it’s given me a better sense of how to treat people and how to treat people with respect, to have mutual professional communication even when someone is frustrating you.”

Giglio is currently taking new clients, and can be found on Instagram @nailsby_catt. To book an appointment, students can use her Calendly link in her Instagram bio.