Creator and Founder of Rad Nails
"I made it possible to wear Ryan Gosling’s face on your fingertips."
While working full-time as the Associate Editor of MTV’s Style blog, Chrissy Mahlmeister decided that she loves nail art and hot dudes so much that the two needed to come together. So she created her own line of nail wraps… AND PUT RYAN GOSLING’S FACE ON THEM. It was that genius idea that got her company, Rad Nails, coverage on high-profile sites like Glamour, Allure, Teen Vogue and Seventeen (to name a few).
Chrissy’s was “scared as BALLS” to venture into entrepreneurship, but admits the journey has been entirely worth it… Especially when people like Zooey Deschanel and her band, She & Him, are lining up to work with her—Rad Nails recently created a set of custom wraps inspired by She & Him’s new album. Big time stuff! And it all started at the tip of her fingers.
Let’s talk about college. I went to Illinois State University for a year, but it sucked. (See: Frat dudes yelling “KELLY OSBOURNE!” at me when I crossed the quad and an English professor asking me to be “less weird” on my term papers.) So I transferred to Columbia College Chicago and majored in magazine journalism. A lot of people side-eyed my decision to study journalism at an art school, but honestly it was the best thing I ever did. I was always surrounded by creative and inspiring people who constantly pushed me to experiment with new things—whether it be in writing, film, fashion, whatever! Nothing was off-limits, and I loved that. Plus, it didn’t have a quad.
I picked journalism because I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, and honestly, it was the only thing I really loved to do. I started a LiveJournal (R.I.P.) in high school to document super important things like the hardships of having a first period gym class (ugh, sweating), cutting my own hair and other teenage nuances. Eventually, I joined my high school newspaper and had an actual living, breathing audience to give me feedback on my articles, and I loved it. At Columbia, I interviewed for a job on the college paper, but since I had no clips, I could only be a Copy Editor. They hired me—this is where I was seated next to a super cute graphic designer named Josh who eventually became my boyfriend—and soon after, I got moved into the Arts & Entertainment section. The following year I was promoted to Managing Editor.
It was, by far, the best experience I could have received before entering the real world, and I got SO MANY great clips out of it. Eventually I discovered my love for fashion writing, which then led me to become obsessed with nail art. From there, I used the creative knowledge I soaked up in art school and paired it with my editorial eye for trends (and badass ‘tude!) to create Rad Nails. Whew!
What was your first job? My first real job was in the JCPenney shoe department at the mall during high school. I spent the majority of my time listening to older women complain about their foot problems (sometimes even showing me *shiver*) and selling an obscene amount of Sketchers to tweens. We worked on commission, and my co-workers were college kids who would spend most of their shift sitting in the stock rooms texting on their phones. So I made BANK.
What about your worst job? Ugh, I worked as a hostess at T.G.I.Fridays one summer during college, and I had to wear an all-black outfit with a red and white striped tie. ISN’T THAT ENOUGH?
What’s your dream job? My dream job would be, like, taste-testing Doritos all around the world or something. I like to eat and travel, so anything that combines those two things would be perfect.
A job you would never want? Anything that involves tons of complicated math, a lot of physical exertion or killing things.
So, how did you get this job? Well, I made my job, soooo… yeah. I’m sorry that’s not what anyone really wants to hear, but these days it seems like if you can’t find the perfect thing for yourself, you have the ability to go out there and create it. I was scared as BALLS to start my own company, but I’m so, so glad I did. I feel like I have learned more by diving head first into it than any business class could’ve taught me.
When I was looking for a job right out of college in 2009, though, the economy was in the shitter and majoring in journalism seemed like a GIANT mistake. I made a Tumblr of all the rejection letters I received to show that we all get burned millions of times before the right thing comes along, and that’s totally OK. I got so many emails from other people in the same boat who were happy to see they weren’t alone.
But, honestly, the best thing you can do is create the job you want. If you have a good idea and are really, really passionate about it, give it a shot! Nothing bad can happen from that.