Darnell Atkins Goes Against Gender Norms and Enters Billion-Dollar Nail Industry
Photo Credit: Instagram / @nen10doe

Darnell Atkins Goes Against Gender Norms and Enters Billion-Dollar Nail Industry

Nail salons in the U.S. generate over $5 billion annually with manicures and pedicures ranking in the top three nail services offered, according to Statista. Simply put, the nail industry is a cash-making machine.

With only 2 percent of nail technicians being Black — UCLA Labor Center reveals — and a smaller portion of that number being Black men, Darnell Atkins is a nail tech unicorn.

Atkins — founder of Nen10doe’s Table —  decided to go into the nail business after returning home from a stint in the Navy and finding it difficult to secure steady employment, according to Black Enterprise.

“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.”

After realizing the potential profits from a single pedicure, Atkins set his sights on learning the trade 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.

Check out Atkins in action on his Instagram and book an appointment on his business site.

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