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Female Feature Friday: Miriam Brittenham

It is no secret that I am passionate about women's empowerment and women in leadership positions. As women's history month ended in March, a new series emerged here at The Honest Mama blog. Each week throughout April and May, Female Feature Fridays will spotlight local female entrepreneurs in Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities.

Meet Miriam Brittenham, a nail technician who specializes in detailed acrylic nail art and offers a personalized experience for each of her clients.

Name: Miriam Brittenham

Business Name: Nails de Miriam

Tell us about yourself!

I was born in Mexico and moved to the states when I was 3. I grew up in Chicago and moved to Bement my freshman year of high school. I met my high school sweet heart and we got married and started a family in Bement.

How did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in nail art?

I have always loved all things art and used to work at the nursing home in Bement. I started in housekeeping and eventually moved up to activities. As an activity director, I put together the activities for the day for the residents, and one of my activities was "Pretty Nails." I love doing nails and eventually was doing nails for other staff members and family members of the residents. The administrator at the nursing home saw potential in me and told me about a class for nails at Lakeland in Mattoon. I went home and told my husband, and the next day he sold a car which paid for the year-long program at Lakeland.

When did you start your business? Can you share what that process was like?

I started my business in 2015. I walked into Rod Sickler Salon and had never met the owner before. I knew that this salon was one of the most well-known in the area, but all of this was new to me. I rarely got my own hair or nails done! I walked in with samples of my nail art, and Rod was amazed and asked when I could start. I said, "Tomorrow!" And he gave me the job on the spot.

What is one of the most challenging parts about your job?

One of the hardest things I have come across is soaking off other people's work. I wish I could educate more on this. I've come across a lot of products that are not true acrylic and just do not want to come off. I don't know where the products come from or what they are made of, and I would think that it is not healthy. I've had a client sit for over two hours trying to remove their product and have had to turn down clients because the product does not come off their nails.

Are there specific services that you consider yourself a specialist in?

Yes! I LOVE color acrylic. It's fun and I have mastered the science of blending and fading colors together. I also love building nail art and 3D nail designs. Anything I can accomplish freehand is a great feeling, and the more detail the better!

How do you stay current with all the fads and changing trends in your industry?

Pinterest definitely helps, and I have used YouTube to learn different techniques. I'm pretty good at just seeing something and knowing what I need to accomplish it. It is really important to stay up to date with everything in this industry. If you stop learning and stop trying new things because you aren't comfortable, you will lose clients. If you're not willing to grow and try new things, someone else will. I would hate to tell a client that I can't do something, and I am always willing to try anything.

How do your prices compare to those of walk-in salons?

From what many of my new clients have shared, I think we're pretty similar. Prices are standard and increase with length, shape, and detail.

I can personally attest to the unique and personalized experience that you provide for your clients. What would you say makes you unique in your industry?

I try to personalize the experience as much as possible for my clients. I reserve time for you and if you want extra time, I will make that happen. You will always have a scheduled appointment and won't ever be rushed or have to wait for the person in the chair ahead of you. I send a personalized reminder text and I want you to feel like your appointment time is just for you. I want you to love your nails and to leave here happy.

A fun fact about you that maybe not everyone knows is that you are into drag racing! Tell us how you got started in that and why you love it.

I have always loved fast things! My husband had purchased a white Corvette and I loved it, but I knew that he had to sell it. He later found a green Corvette and showed me a picture and told me this is what I was getting. My car is nitrous-assisted and is named "Pedi-Cash," and it's also my daily vehicle that I drive everywhere. I took it to the track one day just for fun, and I went my first round and won! I won my second round, and then won finals! I couldn't believe how good it felt. I took home the money and the trophy and knew that this is what I wanted to do. Last year I held the championship all year long and then lost it at the last race of the year, so I'm hoping to bring it home this year.

You work a lot of extended hours as an entrepreneur with a growing list of clients. How do you find balance being a wife and mom on top of your career?

It is hard to be a mom and own a business where you feel you always need to be available for your clients, but I'm so grateful that my business is growing. I work long hours during the week, but that is because I choose to not work weekends so that I can have that time with my family.

You can find Miriam on Instagram @nailsdemiriam.


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