‘It’s a bit of a risky time to go solo’, says nail studio owner setting up in the cost-of-living crisis

Self-taught nail technician Zoe Windatt decided to set up her own business by herself after originally pursuing a career in forensic linguistics

Zoe Windatt ready to do nails in her new studio

Having experimented with her own nails during lockdown, 22-year-old Zoe Windatt has taken the plunge to set up her own nail studio in October, during what she describes as “a pretty dodgy time,” given the current cost-of-living crisis.

The recent forensic linguistics graduate started opening her services to clients in her third year of university, and now having just completed an MA in forensic linguistics, she’s taken the decision to go solo full-time.

Originally from Clevedon, Zoe moved to Cardiff for university and started out by doing her friends’ nails after lockdown as a break from her studies and a way to relax. After a year of working from her city centre flat, she made the decision to pursue a career path entirely different from her education and has set up her own studio on Windsor Place.

After balancing part-time work and her studies, Zoe managed to secure the funds needed for her new studio independently and hopes that a regular clientele base will keep her new studio afloat.

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On her decision to open, given the current economic climate Zoe added, “If I didn’t do it now, I was never going to do it. I just have to, regardless of the climate, put my all into it.”

Career change

Zoe’s original career goals began slightly differently and having loved her undergraduate degree in language and linguistics, she set out to take this further into her postgraduate degree, achieving a Master’s in forensic linguistics this September.

“Sexual health and sexual justice has always been something that’s really important to me,” she says as she passionately describes her dissertation’s focus on rape reporting in newspaper coverage.

When discussing her future aims, Zoe explained her interest in wanting to work with a women’s charity in the city, adding, “I know to do a job that’s that important, I need to be able to give everything and I don’t think I am in the right headspace to do that.”

She made it clear that returning to her original career path, even as a volunteer, is something she still desires to achieve. However, right now, after feeling drained following an intense year of education, she believes pursuing nails was the right decision.

Zoe aims in the future to be able to set up sessions for fellow nail technicians to come together to support women’s charities, in events that “make these women feel pampered the way they should.”

Zoe sat in her new waiting area for clients
Nails are a luxury

Having only been set up for just over a month, Zoe remains in the opening stages of figuring out her schedule and her all-important price list.

It’s been difficult to balance making things the right price so that I can actually live

“It’s been difficult to balance making things the right price so that I can actually live”, she says. Adding, “it’s a bit of a risky time to go solo.”

The cost-of-living crisis has certainly impacted businesses that focus on ‘luxury’ services, particularly the beauty industry as people look to cut out non-essential spending.

This, however, is a job that Zoe clearly loves, adding, “It’s made me even more appreciative of the clients that come back every three to four weeks.”

She prides herself on making sure her clients come out of appointments with a smile on their face, now more than ever.

Her drive and infectious positivity come from finding a job in which she says she never feels as though she’s working.