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Growth & Jobs | I quit! Kimone Shirley takes leap of faith into entrepreneurship

Published:Tuesday | July 23, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Kimone Shirley and her model.
Nail technician Kimone Shirley with Keisha Bent, senior manager, finance, IT and administration at Jamaica National Small Business Loan.

Five years ago, Kimone Shirley took a leap of faith and quit her job as a credit officer to become a full-time nail technician. At the time, she only had a few clients and, therefore, worked part-time.

Now, the 2018 winner of the JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL) Barber and Beauty Battle, in the Nail Technician category, is proud of her decision to open her own salon, on Stork Street, May Pen, Clarendon, late last year; and is happy that she has ventured into entrepreneurship.

“I have loved cosmetology since I was growing up, and had an interest in all areas, especially nails. I first started doing my nails and then that of my family and friends. My mother suggested to me that I do it full-time, because I was good at it. I thought about it, took her suggestion, and gave up my job to pursue my new career,” she stated.

“I also took the time to be certified by learning new techniques and how to become a more professional nail technician,” she explained.

Small start

Shirley rented a booth at a local salon and began serving her clients. However, she soon realised that the business would be challenging, particularly for a newcomer.

“Outside of family and friends, I did not have many clients, therefore it was difficult at first.

There were days when I wondered if I had made the right choice, because a lot of people didn’t know me, or the work I could do. However, as more persons learned about my abilities, more clients surfaced, and I made a name for myself,” she said.

Shirley markets herself through social media platforms, such as: Instagram and Facebook; and receive referrals. Now she has a wide range of clients of varying ages.

“I now have clients from all over. They come from as far as Westmoreland, Kingston and St Ann for me to do their nails. Naturally, many people also learned about me after my success in the JNSBL Barber and Beauty Battle,” she stated.

Last year, the eldest of three children for her mother entered the fourth staging of the JNSBL Barber and Beauty Battle, based on encouragement from clients and family members. The experience was a new and rewarding one for Shirley because of the context and challenges of the competition.

“Yes, it was challenging, and I had to do particular styles within a set time,” she explained. “I also feared competition. But, I was happy, as I learned how to work under pressure; and how to pitch for funding for my operation. The overall experience was good for me. I also gained valuable exposure, which assisted me to open my own salon; and, I am more professional, based on the lessons I learned,” she related.

Gillian Hyde, general manager, JNSBL, said the JNSBL Barber and Beauty Battle was developed to encourage entrepreneurship in the beauty sector; advise entrants about certification, build technical and business capacity of the practitioners; provide access to funding and industry trends; as well as, managing a business.

“We are pleased with the many success stories about our past entrants and winners, since we launched the competition in 2015,” Hyde stated.

“Stories such as that of Miss Shirley’s, make us realise that many persons in the beauty industry are desirous to become entrepreneurs and gain additional exposure.

In the four years since we have mounted this competition, we are pleased about the success stories which have emerged. We commend Miss Shirley on her accomplishments, and wish her continued success,” she stated.

Despite having her own salon, Shirley has two additional plans. She has started to research how to put them in place; and spends her spare time learning about new designs, and polishes, as well as how to expand her business.

“I enjoy what I do. Therefore, I plan to develop a product line and a chain of salons which specializes in nail care,” she explained. “I watch videos on these topics, and have done research to determine how best I can fulfil my dream and be successful in the process.”