Hi! I’m Melissa Schumann from Bella Hands Boutique in Milwaukie, Oregon. I’m a dog, cat, horse and chicken mom and I am so excited to be here! I want to tell you a little bit about me because it’s my life experiences that are going to let you get to know me better and understand exactly why I’m contributing to the FingerNailFixer® blog.
Something I love to talk about is my nail journey. Just like an origin story it ebbs and flows to bring me to where I am now, a salon owner, educator, nail technician, esthetician and cancer non-profit CEO!
Way back in 1998, shortly after I graduated from high school, I worked as a nail tech full time. I loved it, but struggled to make ends meet and picked up a second job. Slowly that steady paycheck became my priority and I reluctantly left the salon setting.
I still did nails on the side for friends and family, but thought that as a nail tech I’d never make it financially. While I enjoyed the variety of jobs I had, the one I really enjoyed was working at the State Hospital. It was a high-stress, constantly moving environment and I was really good at my job, but found I couldn’t progress without a degree. So back to school I went and I earned a BA in Criminal Justice.
How many nail techs have that kind of dual degree!?
I was a full student at night, working full time during the day and still doing nails on the weekend for a few friends. Then I got married, added a stepson to my family mix, and things just kept getting crazier. This is also when I started to notice a decline in my health. I decided the high stress job was too much and it was time to rethink dumping my nail tech career. Being a nail tech still has it’s stressors, but I found myself enjoying the work. I wanted to serve my nail clients and everything else was getting in the way. Plus, what a perfect mixture - student plus nail tech because I had flexibility in my schedule.
So, here I am, working as a full-time nail tech in a rented salon space and going to school full time. But, my health threw a curve ball and mono forced a leave of absence and very limited work hours. It took three months to recover, but I had loyal, yet limited clientele.
Like many nail techs experience, I had to change salons to find a place where I could comfortably call home. While not ideal to have to move around, I think the experiences I had searching for just the right location helped me when I became a salon owner and began working with prospective nail techs to rent space in my own boutique. I knew what was important to me, a positive and professional work environment and open communication with my co-workers.
I loved where I was at in life, but I was still looking for more. NAILS Magazine published an article about how to become an educator for manufacturers. I had been using Gelish polish for several years and really liked the product so I applied. I was accepted and went to Brea, Ca for five days of intensive training. With this certification I teach classes to local beauty schools and started working shows like; Cosmoprof and IBS Vegas. I had found something else to really get excited about. I LOVE teaching and working shows it gives me a reason to better my skills, mentor aspiring techs, and travel.
Crash! My world fell down around me. I found a large mass in my abdomen that was a cancerous tumor. I was turning 37 and suddenly life was over. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer; stage 1c1 clear cell carcinoma.
Four weeks later I started chemo. It was everything you hear. Terrible, lonely, painful, difficult. For 5 months I had treatments done every 3 weeks. I continued to work a limited schedule, but lost clients and friends and that broke my heart. My new norm was regular oncology appointments and working to build up my clientele, and adapting to my new body.
Don’t let anyone say you can’t do it. It took a couple years, but my business began to thrive. I found a way through the hardest time in my life and knew it was time to become my own salon owner. Bella Hands Beauty Boutique became its own brick and mortar location and I was on cloud nine. Business was going really well! I was teaching classes, working shows, and just loving the little empire I was building. I have an awesome nail tech who works with me. She’s young, driven, talented, and hungry to be a part of the industry. I had a healthy work-life balance and I was content.
Of course, life can’t just roll by quietly. Then you’d be reading a whole different origin story! When COVID19 hit, the state mandated I close my salon doors for three full months. But, if there is one thing you may be able to tell about me, Melissa, owner of Bella Hands, I don’t just sit around waiting for life to get back on track! I took the opportunity to have my website
professionally redone, rebrand my business and start a cancer nonprofit, Tough as Nails, that will offer press-on nails to cancer patients to make them feel beautiful and special when they need that boost of happiness, courage, and confidence. I’ve spent the last five months rebuilding my business and diversifying my services. I’m very thankful my business has been able to survive and I’m looking forward to rebuilding it, again, into a thriving industry changing salon.