Young college graduates often find themselves at a crossroads in life after graduation. Some apply for jobs, others continue with their studies and a few choose to take the road less traveled by opening a business.
May Chang is one of a growing body of youth in the country who, upon leaving school, decided to give their dream a shot.
Seven years after graduation, she is now the owner of a popular nail salon in Hsinchu and was chosen to represent the country in the Global Summit of Women in Istanbul, Turkey, in March.
“Looking back, I never thought I would achieve this much,” Chang said in a telephone interview. “Even though the path I took was a rough one, I think it was worth it.”
Asked about her secret to success, Chang attributed it to what she calls the 3P’s — perseverance, persistency and passion.
The 30-year-old opened a one-person nail art parlor soon after college, using money saved from part-time jobs.
“I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to open a shop of my own,” she said.
“After finishing college, I was juggling two jobs. One started at dawn and finished at 2pm, while another at a night market began at 4pm and ran until 10pm.”
Her parents said she did not have what it takes to become an entrepreneur and was bound to end up in huge debt. They asked her to find a normal job like all her female friends, or, better yet, just get married.
“My father said he would disown me if I went into business,” Chang said.
“I had to prove him wrong,” she said.
Chang now has six full-time staff in her employ, another beauty parlor shortly to open in a busy center of Taipei and thousands of nail artists who contact her each day hoping to learn the secrets of her success.
“I worked hard to make my shop stand out and pay attention to details that my competitors wouldn’t bother doing,” she said.
Chang said she used to cram her schedule with various nail art events such as competitions and international seminars to keep herself up to date with the latest techniques, fashion information and knowledge on customer service.
“We serve our customers even before they ask,” she said. “Most of them are repeat customers who say they feel at home when they enter the shop.”
Like a concierge service at a hotel, the staff are trained to keep a record of customer likes and dislikes, ranging from nail color and styles to their preferred beverage, which is served free of charge.
Chang has developed innovative packages to cater to different needs and personal preferences.
“Although our customers consist mostly of housewives and office ladies, from time to time, they bring in their children, husbands and even pet dogs for manicure treatment and design.”
Known for her diligence and wit, Chang has seen her turnover triple over the years.
However, if you think Chang is just one of those lucky entrepreneurs who, after earning their first pot of gold, spend most of their time relaxing in beach resorts, sipping cocktails and enjoying the sun, you would be wrong.
When she’s not painting nails, Chang devotes most of her time to coaching nail artists hoping to open shops of their own.
“I want to lend a helping hand to others with the same aspirations as me,” she said.
However, aspiration alone is not enough in the business world, said an official from the National Youth Commission, an agency that offers free entrepreneurship programs for young people.