Just Begin Magazine highlights the creative spaces of extraordinary women through inspirational stories. Each issue will inspire and motivate creativity.
First & Last Name
Tell us something interesting about yourself most people don’t know.
I speak 2 Filipino dialects fluently!
How did the idea for your business come about?
The journey of getting to where I am today is definitely composed of many moments of trial and error, crushing goals, and of course disappointment, but I believe all of these things are so necessary! My background is in interior design and branding, and while I have worked in several different fields, my gut always told me to stay in the creative realm and find a way to mix in my love for building community and connecting others. After working for a few different small to medium-sized companies and always pouring my all into building the brand, the bottom line was that it would never really fulfill me because it wasn’t my own company. Then in the Spring of 2019, everything changed for me after a trip to Cuba and I decided to just invest in myself and learn how to make this idea that had been brewing in the back of my mind a reality. Throughout all the jobs I’ve had in my career, I realized that it was all lead with using my hands and that I was actually the happiest when I was creating with my hands. That’s really where the idea for Mano was born, and I knew I needed to create a space that celebrated purposeful hand use.
What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
Seeing how much energy and passion I would put into different creative jobs and projects. I always knew my ultimate goal was not to climb the corporate ladder to become a VP of a company that was not mine –– I of course respect those who achieve that but I always knew that was not part of my journey. My dream was always to build my own brand and share an extension of myself with the world.
How did you come up with the name for your company?
Once I had decided that I would be opening up a nail art studio in Miami, I wanted the name to be something easy to remember but also embrace a big part of our “why”, which is creating a true moment of care for our hands for all the work that they do on a daily basis. Since there is of course also a heavy Latinx community in Miami, I thought “Mano”, the Spanish word for hand, was definitely catchy and would also lend to the idea that the brand is more than “just a nail salon”. As a Filipina, I also loved the idea that “Mano” actually has another meaning for me in my culture. Mano is also a Filipino word for “honoring- gesture”, used in Filipino culture. It is performed as a sign of respect for elders and as a way of requesting a blessing from the elder. Similar to hand-kissing, the person the greeting bows towards the hand of the elder and presses their forehead on the elder’s hand. Typically someone may “mano” to their older relatives upon entry into their home or upon seeing them.
How did you raise funding for your venture?
Personal savings and family angel investors.
What makes your business unique?
Mano is a nail art salon and boutique hybrid inspired by things done by hand. We are mainly known for our non-toxic nail art services, specializing in a Japanese, vegan soft gel system that promotes and supports healthy natural nails. Our commitment to using high quality, non-toxic, 10-free products is based on our belief that hands deserve the best for all the work that they do. Whether you are a creative, an accountant, a farmer, whatever it may be, if you are fortunate to have working hands it’s safe to say that they are a part of us that we heavily depend on daily! The concept of our space is to have guests treat their hands to a nail art manicure without the harsh chemicals and then explore our retail section of handmade goods that is curated to inspire more creative, purposeful hand use. Our signature Mano nail art collection consists of designs made with a strong play on color theory (we carry over 200 non-toxic Japanese gel polishes) and mixing in unique items like crushed mother of pearl shells, delicate studs, and organic shapes. I like to think our collection holds a design for every style. We also just launched our new Sustainable by Mano collection, which consists of 5 different nail art sets inspired by 5 brands with committed to Sustainable practices. We wanted to launch this collection in an effort to amplify the importance of supporting companies that care about our planet and showcase some incredible, eco-conscious brands through our craft of nail art. Our talented nail artists can also create any custom look based on your vision and preferences!
What are the daily changes you face as a female entrepreneur?
During the construction phase of building Mano, it was a bit challenging to work with contractors and have them take me seriously at times, but I learned in the end all that matters is that the job gets done and that they are not blatantly disrespectful.
How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful?
We rely mostly on Instagram, which has definitely been the most effective in building our business and reaching as many people as possible. We are lucky enough to also be in a great area in Midtown where we market within the neighborhood as much as possible.
What kind of culture exists in your organization, and how did you establish it?
I’m pretty much at Mano all day every day, so when it came to creating the company culture, it was honestly important for me to build a work environment that was enjoyable for myself and of course the team I was building as well. Open communication is so important, especially as a new business owner, which I feel has really helped build a strong sense of trust within the team, and create a safe space for growth and creating.
Can you describe/outline your typical day? (Routines, Rituals, that you live by)
I kick off the day with a glass of ice water, checking e-mails (I know it’s not good!), and then me or my fiance will burn some palo santo to raise the good vibes for the day while we get ready for work. If I have some time I’ll make a smoothies bowl and do a 10-minute meditation before heading out the door. I walk to Mano from my apartment every day, which takes a little less than 15 minutes, and will listen to one of my playlists or a podcast. When I get to Mano, I light more palo santo to bring some good energy to the space, clean and set up for the day. The rest of the day honestly sometimes feels like a blur because it goes by so fast, and I also work the front desk so there’s always a million things happening at once but I genuinely love it. I always make time to also chat with my team throughout the day and connect with new and old clients during their appointment.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
This is my first business, and 2020 has also been the craziest year of my life (as for many others) so it’s definitely been a challenge to find a balance outside of work, but I’m learning the true meaning of “taking care of yourself so that you can be present with those who matter”.
What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
I can’t pinpoint one at the moment, perhaps 2020 has made us all a little more fearless!
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Building something that people resonate with, and being able to create things that get both our team and our community excited.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
How do you define success?
Waking up every day at 5 am with no alarm clock, excited to start the day because you are so passionate, borderline obsessed with your work, and the team you’re building it with.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Problem-solving, perseverance, faith.
What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?
Making lists for everything, drink a lot of water, and squeeze in mini-breaks to take a walk, or get some fresh air.
What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs to invest their time in?
Making lists for everything, drink a lot of water, and squeeze in mini-breaks to take a walk, or get some fresh air
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My parents, who taught me the true value in hard work, unconditional love the importance in prioritizing family.
What business-related book has inspired you the most? (or, What is your favorite book?)
My favorite book is The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho.
What is the part of your life experience you would alter if you had the chance to?
I don’t really believe in looking back and dwelling on the past. We are who we are because of our experiences––the good, the bad, and the ugly.
If you were to write a book about yourself, how would you name it?
“1. Identify The Essential. 2. Eliminate The Rest”.
What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?
Cook, go to the beach, and laugh like a hyena with friends and family.
What mantra do you live by?
Same as my future book title lol: “1. Identify The Essential. 2. Eliminate The Rest”.
Do you have a mentor? Can you share the impact that person or people have had in your life?
Not so much a “mentor” but a few years back when I was doing freelance design work, I also worked at a small boutique to have some extra income, and one of the owners, my boss, was really tough. He was hyper-focused on the numbers, always pushing to do more even if you exceeded goal, and never took any excuses. Not to say those are necessarily bad things, I just never really agreed with his approach/delivery, however, one thing that I still think about are the moments when he would make an effort to inspire and motivate the team. Every time we had a client who wouldn’t end up purchasing something, or a client he felt we could have sold more with, he would say, “you didn’t try hard enough, you missed out on an opportunity, you have to push yourself to do something out of your comfort zone to better engage with the client and make a better sale”. He gave us all these tips and tricks during team meetings, and would say you should especially exercise these with clients that are standoffish, challenge yourselves to win over the ones that are not easy. It was definitely challenging but that always stuck with me for some reason, because when I did try it, and get myself out of my comfort zone, most times I would even surprise myself. The experience was definitely a character builder and helped me read people even more, which I believe is so important in any service-based industry.
What are the best resources that have helped you along the way? (book, podcast, speaker, etc)
I listened to a lot of podcasts, especially during the concept building part of Mano. Some favorites that I highly recommend are How I Built This, Girlboss, and Oprah Supersoul Conversations.
What’s the most enjoyable or fulfilling part of what you do?
Building an incredible, super talented, passionate all-female team, as well as a powerful community who have truly supported us in our first year.
What do you see as some of your biggest accomplishments?
Making it through 2020, and creating a unique concept/process in creating nail art designs inspired by businesses and brands we love.
What would you tell someone who is interested in starting a business or pursuing a passion?
Spend time really identifying your “why” and then do whatever it takes to make it come to life and have it shine through every aspect of your business ––brand, team, mission, ethos, storytelling, everything!
Where can people get connected with you? (social media handles, website, etc)
www.moremano.com | @more_mano | @momojito712