Photo Courtesy of Yonathan Mesfun

Mason Alumni Starts Successful Nail Business.


Graduating college during a pandemic is difficult enough, but Asra Abbas embraced the challenge by not only embarking on her career in the legal field but also establishing her own successful nail business.

Abbas had always enjoyed creative hobbies like henna and nail art, but it wasn’t until the pandemic in 2020 that she began sharing her nail art and gained enough traction to launch her business.

Abbas, who graduated from Mason in 2023 with a degree in Integrative Studies, has been interested in a career in law since her childhood in Pakistan, where she often spent time with her parents in their law office. However, her desire to pursue law was discouraged due to the safety concerns of being a female lawyer in Pakistan.

Abbas knew from a young age that her future would be in law, especially after experiencing the legal process of immigrating to the United States. She says this experience reinforced her determination to assist others in this same process.

“Immigration law has always held a special place for me given my experiences as an immigrant,” Abbas said.

Although her professional and personal interests may seem vastly different, Abbas says nail art provided a creative outlet that helped balance her demanding scheduling. It also taught her skills that she was able to carry over into her professional life, from financial literacy and client management to maintaining a strong work ethic.

Abbas began her journey as a professional nail artist in 2020 after the pandemic brought widespread layoffs to her company. Her art grew into an official business: Nailed It by Asra

Abbas’ artistry skills were primarily self-taught, but she says she learned valuable lessons about management from her business classes at Northern Virginia Community College.

“Applying the skills I learned in these courses directly to my own business proved to be extremely beneficial and helped me grow and manage it effectively,” Abbas said, who also has her Virginia nail technician’s license. 

Since launching Nailed It, Abbas has been able to serve over 500 clients and generate profits of up to $5,000 a month, allowing her to graduate debt-free. 

Abbas attributes her success to networking, which provides her with both client connections and opportunities to learn from other business owners. Her studio’s convenient location near Mason’s Fairfax campus helps attract fellow students as clients, and Abbas participates in online giveaways and collaborations with other beauty industry professionals so she can reach a wider customer base and hone her marketing strategies.

“Engaging with a diverse range of professionals and clients has broadened my understanding of various business dynamics and has expanded my knowledge base,” Abbas said. 

Now that she has graduated Mason and is focused on developing her career in law, Abbas is transitioning her business format from serving individual clients to educating aspiring nail technicians.

“This shift in focus will also allow me to contribute to the development of aspiring learners in a more meaningful and impactful manner,” Abbas said, who also hopes her services will benefit beginner nail technicians who do not have access to full-fledged beauty programs. She will continue serving her most regular clients while developing personalized classes for budding nail artists.

Establishing a new business while starting her law career is an ambitious endeavor, but Abbas attributes her success to meticulous time management and a consistent schedule that prioritizes her education while allowing her time to recharge.

“I carefully limited the number of clients I attended to each day, working strictly part-time and always made sure to have Sundays off to avoid burnout,” Abbas said. By ensuring she completed her homework before leaving campus each day, Abbas could focus on clients in her spare time.

As she prepares for law school, Abbas is grateful for the growth and confidence she gained from her business. 

“Having my own business has been a transformative experience, instilling in me a stronger work ethic and driving me to chase my goals relentlessly.” 

Although Abbas faced doubts while starting Nailed It, she encourages others interested in starting their own business to embrace the challenge if they are truly passionate about it. 

“Life is filled with risks, but unless you take the leap you’ll never know what’s possible. The rewards can be far greater than you ever imagined.”

Abbas can be found on LinkedIn or Instagram