Editor’s note: This story was produced in conjunction with the Latino Communities Reporting Lab.
WALLINGFORD — Joyce Garcia started doing nails in Mexico at the age of 17. While visiting a family member in California, she asked for a nail kit for fun when she was 15.
She did her first set and hated it. She recalls not picking it back up until two years later when she began doing nails for her sister, and eventually friends.
“It was very hard because we did not have any computers. I had to pay for an hour to watch videos on a computer. My mother said I was always interested in nails because I was always asking about them,” she said.
More than 10 years later, Garcia is opening her own nail salon, Girls Nail Cave, in what was previously Nail Cafe in the plaza at 200 Church St. (Route 68). Garcia and her husband remodeled the business with a pink color scheme along with white, gold, and red decorations.
Garcia thought of Girls Nail Cave while cleaning her husband’s “man cave.” At that moment, she knew the name of her business. Garcia wants Girls Nail Cave to be a place where women can feel comfortable when they get their nails done.
“I think it’s fantastic any time a new business opens. It takes a lot of courage, and when a business chooses Wallingford, it’s an additional service that can be used, we welcome that and hope for their success,” Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said.
Garcia grew up in San Juanito de Escobedo, Mexico. She moved to Connecticut when she was 19 and started working in hopes of giving her parents residency once she turned 21.
“When I came to Connecticut, girls that would come to my town on vacation knew I did nails and started looking for me to do their nails. I was afraid because I did not know the language or where to start,” she said.
Prior to opening Girls Nails Cave, Garcia did nails on occasion but worked three jobs seven days a week in order to help her family. It wasn’t until she worked maintenance at Walmart that she dedicated herself to learning English. She learned more as she continued to work customer service. When Garcia completed the goal of bringing her family to the United States, she did not know what else to do.
Garcia began practicing on herself again and with friends after she married and had her first child. She told her husband she wanted to go to school to do nails in order to feel more confident in her work.
“When I finished, I started doing nails for the public, I felt more confident because I knew how to properly manage sanitation, and how to prepare the nails,” she said.
Garcia was able to work with a friend until she made the decision to open up her own salon.
Girls Nail Cave, which is expected to open later this month, will specialize in designs, offering services such as acrylic nails, gel nails, waterless pedicures and lash extensions.
For appointments visit their website Girlsnailcave.com or call (203)-678-4267.