Columbia Business School

Nailing It! How Amy Ling Lin Solved the Problems She Saw in the Beauty Industry

Presented by Columbia Business School

Nailing It! How Amy Ling Lin solved the problems she saw in the beauty industry

Amy Ling Lin ’16 on how she built her nail salon, Sundays, to solve the problems she saw in the beauty industry.

Industry: Beauty and Wellness
Years in Business: 2
Locations: 2 in Manhattan
Number of Manicures Per Week: 500
Most Popular Colors: No. 2, Sheer Pink; No. 7, Beige Rose; No. 17, Maroon

With her nail salon, Sundays, Amy Ling Lin ’16 wants to transform beauty services. To Lin, a manicure should not only be about painting your nails, it should also provide an experience of wellness, so the salon offers guided meditation with its services. Lin is also working to improve the nail salon industry by limiting workers’ exposure to chemicals. Sundays has earned attention from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and been praised by wellness and fashion influencers for its focus on feeling good on the inside as well as looking good on the outside. Here, in her own words, Lin opens up about her beauty business.

Not Just the Finished Product

I owned a couple of nail salons before coming to business school. I saw customers come, not just for the manicure, but for the experience. I used to hand out magazines, and people would tell me, “I don’t want to read. I just want to be in my own zone.” For our signature manicure, we give customers an iPod with an app to listen to a guided meditation.

Beyond the Bottle


When I began working in salons, I realized how many chemicals are used. In some polishes, the dyes come from insects and the sparkle comes from fish scales. I wouldn’t want to put those on my nails, so I worked with chemists to develop vegan formulas. We make our own products, so our services are safe enough for everyone, including children and pregnant women.

Making an Impact

An overwhelming number of people working in the salon business are immigrants, and immigrant salon workers are a group to whom people don’t pay enough attention. My goal is to give our nail specialists a voice. On our website, we tell stories of each nail specialist—where they’re from, what they like to do. It makes people pay attention and furthers our mission of bridging the gap between nail artists and clients.

Facing Yourself

I came to Columbia knowing I wanted to impact the salon industry, but people in my life didn’t understand. I wondered if I should go to a company like McKinsey that would be easier to explain. But Professor Hitendra Wadhwa’s Personal Leadership and Success class opened me up to truly facing myself. It taught me how to clear away outside noise and made me mentally stronger.

What’s in a Name?

I spent a lot of time thinking about the name. I love Sunday mornings—and Sundays in general. This is the day I spend with someone important, or spend time with myself. Every day should be like Sunday.

Read the original piece on Columbia Business School’s Ideas and Insights blog.

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