Clutch Nails, as it’s known today, was created May 2017, but the founder, Alexandra Tonks, had started a version of this business when she was only a senior in college at UC Berkeley. Her journey from being a full-time student to running a press-on nail empire started with humble beginnings...
One day during class, a boy Alexandra liked at the time asked her out to dinner. She said yes, of course, and immediately left class to get all dressed up. They met for dinner and were having a lovely time when he stopped mid conversation and asked, “why do you always have makeup on, but you never have your nails done?” She was taken aback and quickly became embarrassed and defensive. She was an “A” student at a highly competitive school, she was active in campus organizations, and was already overwhelmed with responsibilities. She felt like she had been doing her best to balance it all and felt deeply criticized by the comment. She started going on a rant about how much money nail salons cost and how much time it takes to get your nails done, and concluded with, “if getting my nails done was as easy as doing my makeup, I would have my nails done EVERY DAY!”
She left the dinner in a huff and decided to go to Target to see what options she could try to start doing her nails herself. When she got to the shelf of press-ons she realized that the all the options were ugly, tacky, and nothing she would wear. She decided then that she would paint her own blank press-on nails and start wearing those instead.
After painting a few sets of nails, she put a set on and wore it to a college party. From the second she arrived, multiple girls approached her asking where she had gotten her nails done. She told them she had painted them herself and she would paint sets for them too—which is when the fun really started.
Word got out and the demand for nails became overwhelming. Alexandra hired nail artists from a local nail salon to help her paint and come up with designs—all while she was still in school. She would come home from class and all the nail techs would meet in her apartment, painting nail tips for hours. The nail techs loved it as they were able to make extra money and they were able to freely create their own designs instead of being limited to the demands of their salon clients.
By the time she graduated, it was clear to Alexandra that she wasn’t the only one who wanted beautiful nails that she could easily do herself. Her ultimate dream was to get her nails into the original store she went to all those years ago, Target, so that hard-working girls everywhere didn’t have to feel ashamed that they didn’t have time to go to the nail salon. Three years after launching, Clutch Nails hit the Target shelves and the rest is history!