From a young age, Farhana Samad was interested in nail art. She would watch videos on the internet and be fascinated by how something tiny like a nail could be used as a canvas to create beautiful and colourful designs.
Nail art is still a budding trend in Bangladesh; gel polish, nail extension, acrylic nails, etc are slowly becoming popular. Compared to regular nail polish, gel and acrylic nails last longer.
Initially, Farhana did not plan on becoming a professional nail artist. She simply wanted to learn more about what she loved.
In 2016, she got married and moved to Baridhara. She was still studying and working at an organisation, but she would always feel something was missing.
When she shared it with her husband, he encouraged her to work on her passion, nail art.
After doing some research, the couple found out that professional courses on nail art were available in Malaysia.
Farhana went there and finished a course on nail extensions.
"When we were finding out about the course in Malaysia, I was really excited about it. But back then I did not think of becoming a nail artist, I was just happy about learning about nail art," Farhana shared with The Business Standard.
The Malaysian course was helpful, but she soon realised she was still lacking some skills.
So she went to China and Dubai to complete more courses, and finally, after securing three certificates, she realised she could become a professional.
Now her nail works had the finishing and durability that she always wanted. Farhana's family members asked her to open a nail salon, but she was skeptical.
Farhana said, "Before opening a business, I wanted to learn things such as how to talk to clients. I had many questions. After taking a master class from Thailand, I learned details about the products and the A to Z of nail art. People think nail art is an easy thing. Trust me, it is not. Designs can take hours to be completed and the slightest mishandling can damage them."
In Thailand, she practiced on mannequins as well as on human models. She learned about 3-D nail art, gel flowers, and also eyelash extension.
Seeing her skills and enthusiasm, her instructors in Thailand told her to become a professional nail artist.
Although Farhana began with only a Facebook page called "Tisha's Beauty Hub", she now has a salon in Baridhara.
Clients usually call her for an appointment and during the wedding season, she is the busiest - working on three to four clients every day.
"My salon was a tiny room in my house. But the landowner did not allow me to continue for long because the area is a residential one. Fridays would be extra busy. I would have clients after clients - the landowner was bothered by all these. I had clients who were getting married, and some who had New Year's plans. Everything got cancelled," she explained.
Seeing her distress, the chairman of her office offered to help. Farhana was allowed a few hours in the evening, after regular office hours, to attend her clients.
"I would work from morning till evening, and from 6pm to 9pm, my clients would
come to my office. But my hard work paid off. My clients think my designs seem prettier than the pictures," said Farhana.
Farhana informed us that the most popular these days are French ombré nails because they go with any outfit. Clients also ask for nude nail colours. But 3-D flowers and stones, which are very popular abroad, do not have the same demand in Bangladesh.
After her father passed away in January this year, Farhana had an extremely difficult time coping with it.
"I was supposed to start my salon earlier but after my father's death, I felt lost. I would become emotional if a client talked about her father in front of me. If he called her, my eyes would well up with tears. Eventually, I fell sick and took a gap from work," she shared with us.
Farhana started to practice nail art and eyelash extension bit by bit while staying home since March right after the lockdown began.
She said, "I do everything by myself with my family's support. I come from a conservative family and was married off at a young age, but now I am a professional nail artist, and I really love what I do."
Farhana explained to us the steps to creating nail extensions.
At first, with a Russian manicure, the nails and their surface are cleaned. The nails are cut, filed, shaped, and disinfected.
Then, gel or acrylic nail extensions are created with the help of plastic tips or forms. In the case of acrylic colour designs, topcoats are applied at the end to keep them secure.
She said, "Depending on one's natural nail growth and how they maintain the nails, designs can last up to two to three months. If you eat with your hands, the nails would get spice stains. Things like doing the dishes or washing clothes would also damage the nails."
Farhana's tips for healthy nails include taking vitamin D, refraining from nail-biting, massaging cuticle oil every night, and having regular manicures and pedicures.