Young & Determined: Sharnise McMichael Overcomes the Odds in Orangeburg
Sharnise McMichael is a woman with many passions, ingenuity and the tenacity to accomplish whatever she pursues. As a student at Claflin University, Sharnise decided to become a nail technician to support herself, pay for college and save money to invest in her own business. While carrying a full course load, Sharnise not only completed the state-mandated training required to earn her nail technician certification, she also gave birth to twin daughters. Yet despite her demanding schedule, Sharnise — fueled by her ambition and boundless energy — succeeded in all her endeavors.
In 2015, shortly after graduating, Sharnise fulfilled a longtime dream when she launched Lush Nail Lounge in downtown Orangeburg. Sharnise and her staff of three nail technicians soon began attracting loyal clients by indulging them with an array of services in a sociable, spa-like atmosphere. As a result, the salon posted an impressive $25,000 profit within months of its grand opening.
“It was extremely challenging getting my business started,” McMichael said about opening the salon. “Nonetheless, with my faith in God and determination, I was able to make it happen. No one gave this business to me. I had to do it; and this is what I would share with anyone getting started.”
Today, Sharnise sees limitless opportunities and is eager to pursue her next ventures: employing creative marketing techniques to expand her clientele, advocating on behalf of small business owners and participating in civic organizations devoted to fostering economic growth in downtown Orangeburg.
“Sharnise is very ambitious and constantly seeking ways to expand her operations,” said Gary Robinson, McMichael’s business consultant with the Orangeburg Area SBDC. “I enjoy working with her because she and I share a similar background. Like her, I launched my own business shortly after graduating from college. So, I know first-hand the challenges a young entrepreneur like Sharnise faces.”
Gary was introduced to McMichael by Adolphus Johnson, a partner of the Orangeburg Area SBDC and executive director of New America Corporation, a non-profit committed to renovating properties in downtown Orangeburg. Johnson owns the building where Lush Nails is located.
“My primary aim in working with Sharnise is helping to channel her enthusiasm and prioritize her aspirations,” said Robinson. “After several meetings we decided she next should focus on leveraging social media to solidify her presence in the Orangeburg business community, expand her client base and promote the salon’s lively atmosphere.”
According to Robinson the fusion of word-of-mouth endorsements with their online marketing strategy proved to be a winning combination. The resulting increase in clientele, however, presented Sharnise with a gratifying challenge; having maximized the capacity of the space Lush Nails currently occupies, Sharnise is looking for additional space where she can open a second salon and expand her operations.
Shaterrica Dickson, an avid patron, highly endorses the salon. “I go to Lush Nail Lounge for my manicures and pedicures because of its relaxed setting. It’s a place where I go to laugh and enjoy good conversations — and the gel pedicure is the best! I just love the service!”
Sharnise has dreams that extend beyond owning her own business. “Eventually, she would like to conduct workshops for aspiring entrepreneurs in the cosmetology industry and develop her own line of products to be sold worldwide,” said Robinson. “Recognizing her need for a well-defined road map, I worked with Sharnise to develop a strategic plan that provides the direction she needs to accomplish her numerous goals within the next five years.”