the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

Nail by nail, senior Haile Merino creates artwork through hard work and persistence

Photo courtesy of Haile Merino

As they laugh together chatting about their day, senior Haile Merino preps, sands and decorates her friend’s nails in a precise and meticulous fashion. 

A passion project Merino picked up during quarantine, nail art is a relaxing side business and hobby for her. She finds the process therapeutic and feels that nail art has helped her personally as well.

“I learned to open up to people. When I have random clients, I have to make conversation with them. It was so hard for me because I don’t like talking to people,” Merino said. “I’d say that it’s helped me be more patient.” 

Largely self-taught, Merino has faced a few learning curves while working with nails, such as figuring out how to pick up the acrylic beads, but with time and experience, she has managed to overcome those difficulties and learned many new styles.

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“I feel like I’m a little bit better now. I actually have done nails on a lot of people. Right now I’ve taken a little break because I’m busy, but I’ve been practicing on myself when I have the chance,” Merino said.

Little by little, I just kept practicing.

Though she can work with a variety of different designs, such as French tips and chrome nails, Merino’s favorite remains the ombre. The pattern came to her easily when she was starting out, and she has enjoyed making it ever since. 

“In the past, I used to work at a makeup store. The store had a lot of people who came and did nails, and I realized you get money from that,” Merino said. “That’s a career, and I like nails, so I thought later that could be a full-on thing for me.”

Merino decided to try doing nails as a casual way to pass the time at home during the pandemic. She bought a beginner’s kit and would practice on her brother, then slowly improved her skills, expanding her clientele to make nail art into a business. 

“[At first], I had to bribe my brother into agreeing, and he wouldn’t let me do his whole hand. When I started getting the hang of it, I remember one time he let me do a full set on him,” Merino said. “Now, I do my friends’ nails, my aunt’s and my mom’s as well.” 

Merino attended the Infinite Glow Beauty Academy in West Covina for a few months, learning how to shape and apply designs. At the end of her lessons, she received a certificate of completion and went on to temporarily work for the company. 

“When I first started, I was worried because a lot of the girls who were in there already had years doing it,” Merino said. “I was still a beginner, so I was kind of worried that I wasn’t going to be good at it. Little by little, I just kept practicing.” 

In the tentative future, Merino plans to go to nail school and become a licensed nail technician, hopefully sometime in the summer. 

“[If there’s something you’re interested in], just test it out. If you don’t feel comfortable, then you can just drop it and do something else, but if you like it and it’s comfortable to you, I’d say just continue doing it,” Merino said.

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Elise Chen, Feature editor
Hi, my name is Elise Chen, I'm in the 10th grade, and I'm the Feature editor for The Hoofprint. Besides writing for The Hoofprint, I am also on the Science Olympiad team. I enjoy playing chess and reading.
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