How I Opened My Own Nail Studio: ELEANOR LANGSTON

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Since its opening in New York in May 2014, clients have been flocking to the salon to get Paintbox’s fashionable fingertips. Langston, who is the founder and CEO of Paintbox, shares what it was like to create a new career while balancing motherhood and why she never once doubted taking the risk.

After year of working as a beauty editor for magazines including Cosmopolitan, Fitness, and Self, Eleanor Langston took a step back in her work life and started to think about what she really wanted to do. The answer was opening the boutique nail salon, Paintbox, which focuses on one thing: artfully crafted, runway-inspired manicures.

Since its opening in New York in May 2014, clients have been flocking to the salon to get Paintbox’s fashionable fingertips. Langston, who is the founder and CEO of Paintbox, shares what it was like to create a new career while balancing motherhood and why she never once doubted taking the risk.

I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and from an early age, I knew I wanted to move to New York City, and I wanted to work in publishing. During high school, I sought out a summer program at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. It was for the experience only, so I presented it to my parents and with their support — and lots of babysitting money — I spent the summer between my junior and senior year at this intense, two-month journalism camp learning leads, writing mock news stories, and planning out larger features.

I went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and majored in journalism. They didn’t have a magazine sequence, so my focus was on PR with a minor in creative writing.

I had three internships during college — and every summer I went to New York. I wanted to build my network there. The first summer it was really hard to get an internship. I knew no one in New York City. I had a stack of about 200 magazines, and I cold-called all of them. My parents supported me going to New York for an internship, but I could only go if I lined one up. A month before my deadline, I still didn’t have anything.

I finally got a call back from United Colors of Benetton. They offered me an internship in their PR department. Their showroom was this beautiful space on Fifth Avenue. It was one of those classic move-to-New-York experiences. I could have been sweeping the floor for all I cared. I was in New York and in the mix. There was one head of PR and one other person in the department, so it was very hands-on. I worked the whole summer checking samples in and out, but also dealing a lot with editors. I pulled samples for them and started to build relationships. I stayed in the NYU dorms, and I also babysat throughout college to save money.

I kept in touch with my contacts over the school year. This is something I always suggest to my interns now don’t just reach out and say, “Hey, just checking in.” It has to be productive. I’d mention that I saw a Benetton placement in a magazine and congratulate them, reference an article about the industry, and show that I’m involved and understood the business element.

My old boss from Benetton passed my name on to DKNY. I came up during the school year for a round of different interviews, and I loved everything about DKNY. It was the biggest name on my list, so I thought it would be great on my résumé.

It was pretty much the same kind of internship as Benetton, but it was a bigger team. It was more upscale, we had high-end clients, and I got to help set up big parties we hosted. I pulled some stuff for the actress Michelle Williams once for a movie premiere. I got to go to her hotel room, and she thought I was a stylist. I remember showing her clothes and telling her what looks cute. That was one of my favorite days.

I was going to study abroad in London the next semester during my junior year. The program was through UNC, but I figured, If I’m here in London, and I have only about four hours of classes every day, I’d rather still work toward my career than just hang out. So I set up an internship. My boss at DKNY printed out their contact list for London. I called a magazine called Eve, which is a More equivalent. I helped organize the fashion closet, checked in merchandise, and checked it out. It was nothing too high-level, but it was my first magazine internship. And I got to touch so many amazing clothes.

I got an internship with Elle magazine the last summer before graduation. I emailed the same people year after year, and this time more of them replied. At this point, my résumé was definitely more impressive and well-rounded. I got hired to intern in the accessories department. I was dealing a lot with really expensive jewelry, filling out all the forms and insurance, and getting to know the procedure for the department. Instead of sitting in a closet, I was out by the editors. I had girl crushes on all of them by the end of the summer.
(words by Heather Wood Rudulph)

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I think it’s really hard to be a mother and have business but i think that it’s worth it if it helps my children’s dreams come true and that’s the best gift of all

    • That is so true Kate but I think the weight of starting a business and be taken of that bit more if you have the help of a mentor and the support of friends and family. We wish all the best in your business do visit back to get more help and tips to launch, run and grow your business. Have a great! day.

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