Jenny Phan doesn’t want to just be a nail tech, she wants to form a deeper connection with her customers that makes them feel comfortable and excited to get their nails done.
“I want them to just feel like I’m one of their friends, like a best friend or something and that they can talk to me about anything,” Phan said.
Phan, a sophomore kinesiology major, created Gelled By Jenny, a nail business located at her apartment on 18th Street near Jefferson, in September 2021. Phan was inspired by her mom, who owns her own salon, Sun Nails Salon, in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Phan runs a small salon in the basement of her apartment where she paints and shapes clients’ nails on top of a marble desk.
Phan specializes in gel manicures and offers gel extensions, polish removal and nail repair services and frequently collaborates with clients to create new designs. Oftentimes, clients will come to her with an inspirational image of what they want, and they will talk through a design that fits their vision.
Clients can schedule appointments on her website. Appointments take approximately two hours, but some can go as long as five hours depending on the complexity of the design that clients request.
After spending much of her life watching her mom paint and shape nails, Phan began to work at her mom’s salon in high school.
Phan has always been artistically inclined, and became interested in nail art because it merged her passion for art with the skills she developed while shadowing her mom, she said.
Working with her customers to make their vision a reality is important to Phan because she wants to ensure her customers are satisfied and feel confident with their nails.
“I always have this one person that gives me the craziest designs and I tend to doubt myself,” Phan said. “[The clients] sitting there, cheering me on really gets me going. I think it’s awesome that they can sit there with me for hours and really believe in me.”
She received lots of support from her parents and her mom’s regular customers.
“Thankfully, I had a lot of support from my mom’s regulars and people that knew me from when I was a kid,” Phan said. “They were very patient and very nice to me — that kind of led me to where I am.”
Bridget Frame, a sophomore political science and philosophy major, appreciates Phan’s personal approach. Although the two were strangers when Frame first got her nails designed by Phan, with time, they developed a friendship.
The two initially connected through the music Phan would play during appointments and bonded over artists like Tyler The Creator. Now, Frame considers her someone she can talk to about anything.
“Now that I come back, I feel like I’m just going to see my friend,” Frame said.
While some clients are strangers turned friends, others have been coming to Jenny for their nails since she first started working at her mom’s salon.
Enycia Nuñez, a sophomore psychology major, has watched Phan’s business grow since the beginning, she said. They have been friends since sixth grade, and Nuñez was one of Phan’s first clients.
Watching Phan go from practicing nail art to opening her own business has been special for Nuñez because she knows how much hard work and dedication Phan puts into her business.
“She talks to anyone and she’ll make their day better — like any client she has,” Nunez said. “It’s always a good experience.”
Phan prides herself on creating a fun and comfortable environment for her clients that keeps them coming back.
“I like meeting different people and creating friendships and relationships with them,” Phan said “That’s definitely the best part, it’s really fun, just having girl moments with everyone.”