We had the good fortune of connecting with Maria Martinez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Maria, how do you think about risk?
I think risk is necessary in life. People really shy away from change. It’s understandable. Change is difficult, because you can’t always “see” where you’re going. I was told by a friend that risk taking can be safe: the worst that could happen is that you will end up back in the same situation you were in. It helped me reframe my thinking in terms of my career. Moving from the salon to a studio was a huge risk. Even though I was staying in the same career, the independence was both attractive and intimidating.

An important thing to consider before taking risks is your “safety net.” Your safety net is not limited to finances, it also includes your chosen family, friends, peers, and mentors. I was able to take the risk of moving to my own studio because of the support I received from the salon owner to move on and stretch my wings, and also the support of a fellow nail friend who also wanted to go independent at the same time. It’s also important to have peers and mentors to look up to, so that you have a very clear image of what the “finished product” of your small business will look like. It takes a village!

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Art was something I learned, not something I was born with. I started experimenting with art as a tween in a local private studio (actually, the first location is a stone’s throw from my studio) and worked hard to accomplish anything I wanted to create, really more out of curiosity than competition. After high school, I had no idea where I was going to go. First, I got my cosmetology license, unsure of which discipline I would commit to. I hated hair. I did like painting, and I loved doing my own nails. So, I worked in a nail salon while I continued to studied art in community college, and eventually got a degree in art history from UCSD. I was simultaneously learning all about the industry and about fine art. I’ve always come back to art: there hasn’t been a job I’ve committed to that wasn’t about art. I can’t get away from it! Doing nails encompasses all aspects of visual art and has been a wonderful creative outlet for me. Because of my journey through academia and the beauty industry, I am always encouraging people to pursue their passions as they pertain to them, and never be afraid to change!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, growing up in San Diego means I go all over the city, so they’d have to be ready to hit the freeways. Balboa Park is obviously number one! All the museums there, as well as the zoo next door. Going coastal, I’d probably recommend Windansea beach or Moonlight beach, or a little hike up Torrey Pines. Coffee is mandatory: we would probably cruise down to Mujer Divina for a latte and burrito, then walk around Chicano Park to enjoy the murals and history. For dinner? I can’t get away from Siam Nara or Menya, both located in Mira Mesa and both are amazing Thai and ramen joints, respectively. I absolutely cannot stay in one neighborhood, because San Diego is so diverse and I want my guest to appreciate all of it!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Where to begin? The crew at Hello Birdie in North Park supported me no matter what. My nail friends and community are present and uplifting. I also credit the education offered by my favorite nail supply companies, particularly the crew at Young Nails and their business podcast!

Website: mamacitamanicures.com

Instagram: @mamacitamanicures

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