WESLEY CHAPEL — Last summer, Joelle Hinds of Wesley Chapel eagerly awaited her 13th birthday and her mom’s permission to finally wear press-on nails.
Hinds might have added nails to her birthday wish list. But when she came across people selling custom-designed versions online, she saw a chance to fulfill a bigger wish — starting her own business.
“My dream is to be a full-time entrepreneur,” Joelle said. “I really want to have my own beauty empire.”
The result is Slay All Day Nails.
It wasn’t long before her 16-year-old sister Janiah Hinds caught the entrepreneurial spirit and launched a business, too — Slay it Proud, selling T-shirts with a message on Black empowerment and creating weekly videos highlighting lesser-known moments in Black history.
Now, the sisters are helping one another grow the ventures.
Slay All Day Nails advertises a manicure delivered right to your door. Customers are busy women who don’t have time to go to a salon, Joelle said. Once the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, and people couldn’t go out to get their nails done, sales really took off.
Slay All Day Nails has sold about 200 nail sets through its Etsy web site storefront, Joelle said. She designs and hand-paints the nails herself. They’re branded with names like “summer vibez” and “pink paradise” and photographed against a Florida backdrop of St. Augustine grass.
Joelle also boosted sales by connecting with popular social media accounts and influencers to feature her products. One of them, @theshaderoom on Instagram, has more than 19 million followers.
The entrepreneur’s spirit runs deep in the Hinds family. Father Kymone Hinds, 43, coaches individuals and organizations to succeed by taking on projects — finishing a book, putting together a podcast or starting a small business.
His daughters, though, are powered by their own initiative, Hinds said.
“I think they’re both inspiring each other and pushing each other forward,” he said.
Kymone is especially pleased to see his daughters learn communication skills and resourcefulness and grow as individuals through the ups and downs of running a business.
He recalled taking them and son Jaden to Sam’s Club five years ago so they could buy supplies and sell popsicles and water at a park. The experience taught them they could earn money buying something at one price and selling the finished product for more.
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“That from an early age showed them that they didn’t have to wait on an allowance from us or someone to necessarily just give them a job,” Kymone said.
When the kids counted their profits back home, they got excited. The money probably went to popsicles and snacks for themselves, but that’s how they measured success, he said.
Now, Joelle and Janiah put their profits toward different purposes. Some of Joelle’s revenue goes back into Slay All Day Nails but she also donates to organizations she believes in. Janiah is putting money back into her business and saving for a car.
Slay It Proud has made about 400 sales, Janiah said. The first shirt she created is her favorite: “Black does not mean uneducated, criminal, less than, suspicious, lazy.”
One of her customers is Malaika Defoe, a vice-principal at a charter school for about 150 Black students in Washington, D.C.
Defoe, 41, spotted a pastor wearing the shirt about a month ago while she was watching a California church service online. She found Janiah’s website and bought a few shirts. She said she likes to wear it when she attends protests.
Defoe plans to buy a shirt for all her students as part of their uniform, the one that reads, “My black, your black, our black is beautiful."
She’s working with Janiah to add the school’s logo on the back.
“I want these students to realize that they are beautiful inside and out,” Defoe said.
Janiah sees T-shirts as a way for people to promote their beliefs. Still, her deeper passion is Black history. That’s where her “Black Friday” videos come in. She has published about 35 videos on Slay It Proud’s website and Instagram since October.
The videos, each about a minute long, tell the stories of people like Sarah Boone, one of the first Black women to receive a patent in the United States, and Constance Baker Motley, a civil rights activist and the first Black woman to be named a federal court judge.
Janiah features lesser-known figures to expand perspectives on the accomplishments of Black Americans. Some people think of Black history and see only slavery and the civil rights movement, she said.
When she grows up, Janiah said, she wants to become a civil rights lawyer. She hopes the business skills she’s learning now will help her on that path.
“It’s something I’ve been passionate about with Black history, seeing that a lot of minorities and African Americans don’t have a voice, and they need someone to speak up for them.” she said. “I want to be that person.”