Editor’s Note: Terra Konieczny is a member of News Link Indiana, another student media organization at Ball State. The Ball State Daily News and NewsLink Indiana are separate and unrelated publications, but both utilize resources in the Unified Media Lab.
The expectation of nail appointments consists of searching for parking in a crowded strip mall to wait for a nail tech’s availability. Once the appointment has begun, you’re sat between strangers for an hour before you leave and have to repeat the process in a couple of weeks.
In contrast, pulling up to a home with a brick exterior in a serene residential area might offer a better chance of relaxation than traditional nail salons.
Fourth-year journalism major Terra Konieczny has frequented the nail salon since a young age. When she moved to Muncie, she tried to find a nail salon like the one she regularly attended back home in Illinois, but none of them were quite right.
In August 2022, she decided to take matters into her own hands, teaching herself how to do her own nails. When she saw Gel-X on TikTok being advertised as an easier alternative to acrylics, she quickly ordered the required equipment.
According to The Beauty Institute, there are three main types of manicures. Basic manicures are simple but less durable. Gel manicures utilize UV light to harden the polish, and acrylics include a false tip with a mixture of liquid and powder polish.
Gel-X manicures can be long like acrylics and has the additional element of UV light to harden the nail, like in a gel manicure.
“I’m a person that feels like I can learn anything if I just practice it a lot,” Konieczny said. “Gel-X uses powder to form the nail. It’s really easy and fast for me. I would say it’s more durable than acrylics, and I think it lasts longer as well, but everyone’s nails are different.”
Living with five roommates, she was not lacking in practice opportunities. Because of the extra hands, it took her three months to feel confident in her nail work.
That’s when her roommates, three of which are in sororities, suggested they spread the word. Once it was sent in group chats and posted on social media, TK Nails was established, and began growing quickly.
It didn’t take long before Konieczny began building her inventory to better support her endeavors and make the experience more comfortable for those receiving manicures from her. Her latest new piece of equipment includes an airbrush, so she can achieve more design options.
Konieczny’s offer of exclusivity to Ball State students and the accessibility of her location on Gilbert Street, by The Village, drew in enough customers that word-of-mouth is enough to bring new people in the door.
“I don’t have to do anything. I do one new person, they tell their roommates, and it just keeps going,” Konieczny said.
Fourth-year creative writing major, Lilly Anderson, learned about Konieczny’s abilities through her Instagram and has gone back multiple times since the initial visit.
“A set from her lasts almost an entire month, so I don’t have to go as often as I do when I have acrylics,” Anderson said. “Terra’s work is high quality. She has all of the tools you would typically see in a salon, and she dedicates herself to each set, taking her time and being very patient.”
Many of Konieczny’s regulars appreciate the comfort that her home provides, as opposed to a traditional nail salon.
Rylee Billups, third-year psychology major, discovered TK Nails when she noticed both the durability and design of a friend’s nails in class. When Billups asked where they got them done, she was directed to Konieczny’s account on Instagram, just like Anderson.
“The environment is very comfortable,” Billups said. “The times I’ve been there she has music playing, and we have conversations. Terra is the type of person who is easy to talk to.”
Anderson feels that the layout and the way Konieczny decorated her space is inviting and improves the overall experience.
The laundry room was converted into a nail salon and is covered in shades of pink from the light pink fluffy rug, to the hot pink Pitbull tapestry. Konieczny purchased a glass table and displayed bottles of nail polish to transform the monochrome space into an area for her new business.
“I like that Terra works from her house,” Anderson said. “There is no wait time like an actual salon that takes walk-ins, and it honestly feels like hanging out with a friend because she is so sweet and a great conversationalist. She has done a phenomenal job at decorating as well. Hers is the cutest set up I have ever been to, and I’ve been getting my nails done for almost five years. It’s all pink, very clean and super cozy."
Alexandra Vackar, second-year business major was connected to Konieczny through a sorority sister when she complimented her nails.
“I enjoyed walking to Terra’s house from my freshman year dorm and, soon, my house this school year,” Vackar said. “Going to her house also felt more personable, and it was nice to have a one-on-one experience.”
Over the past year that Konieczny has been doing nails, she has found that she genuinely enjoys adding designs to her manicures.
“I really like being challenged, and I have a couple of clients who always bring me something,” Konieczny said. “I love doing designs because people have expressed that a bunch of nail salons can’t. I feel proud when I’m done because I’m like ‘Wow, I just did that.’”
While many really admire the work that Konieczny does and the comfort her location provides, it’s not the only thing attracting and retaining customers. Many people who have gotten their nails done by her have expressed their adoration of her personal approach.
“Every time I’ve gotten my nails done, it feels like I’ve known her for ages, and we always have lots to talk about, and it’s never awkward or boring at all,” Vackar said. “People should know that Terra is incredibly talented and so kind.”
The enjoyment that Konieczny’s new-found form of expression brings her is apparent in her work.
“I really appreciate how her business is geared towards college students, and she genuinely enjoys doing nails,” Billups said. “Terra is such a sweet and genuine person. She is dedicated to her business and I know she works so hard.”
Ball State students feel that Konieczny’s business allows them to feel good about their nails and better manage that aspect of their lives.
“Her heart is for the people, and the business she’s made is amazing for college students,” Billups said.
Contact Ella Howell with comments at email@example.com.