Darnell Atkins Beats Gender Odds To Venture Into Billion-Dollar Nail Enterprise

by Duke Magazine

According to Statista, it has been estimated that Nail salons in the United States generate over $5 billion annually with manicures and pedicures ranking among the top three services offered. This hitherto is evidently making nail industry a lucrative business. UCLA Labor Center reportedly gave the percentage of Black nail technicians to be just 2 percent, with a small portion of them being Black men. 

However, Darnell Atkins is a nail tech unicorn. He is the founder of Nen10doe’s Table, and made the decision of delving into the nail enterprise after his return from a stint in Navy and difficulty in securing job opportunity.

“I resorted back to a couple of hustles,” Atkins told WUSA-9. “But in the midst of me resorting back, I always found myself in front of a Black-owned nail salon. All the hustlers would gravitate towards this area because that is where all the pretty girls were.”

Instagram/ Darnell Atkins

Upon his realization from a single pedicure, Atkins determinedly went on to learn the business and eventually became a certified nail technician.

“I was hungry, and I was motivated to find a way out,” Atkins said. “I didn’t have anything else, so I dumped all of my money into learning how to do nails.”

Defying stereotypes as a Black male nail tech, Atkins was once ashamed of his newfound career and worried about how others would perceive him.

“I didn’t want anybody to see. I was kind of ashamed,” the 29-year-old said.

Today, Atkins no longer feels embarrassed about his profession. Instead, he’s focused on providing quality services to his clients.

“I want to do good work and be noticed for that, rather than the guy that just started doing nails and people are like, ‘that’s not normal,’” Atkins said.

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