This story first appeared on Blueprint365.org. High quality non-toxic nails and using her passion for art is her dream, but tragedy struck last week as a fire burned down Katalina Sanchez’s business, Graffiti Nails.
Sanchez accomplished her dream of melding her love for art and nails together at her salon on Madison’s east side. Her business brought high quality non-toxic nails with a client focused approach to make people feel like she was there just for them. However, a fire broke out on Nov. 13 that burned down her business and a few others. Sanchez is now turning to the community for support to get her salon up and running again.
“I felt like I was really stuck. I put all my love and my dreams and my passion — all my money, everything I had — into the nail salon,” Sanchez said. “It was very devastating for me.”
Graffiti Nails came to fruition after Sanchez didn’t like how she was forced to treat customers and how she was valued by larger salons. She was often rushed to maximize how many clients come in and out — but she wanted to give clients more personalized attention.
“I just didn’t feel like I was getting a lot of appreciation from them, but I didn’t want to give up what I did, because I really loved what I do,” Sanchez said. “I love making people feel better about themselves after they’re done getting their nails done.”
Her inspiration for art and nails comes earlier in her life. As a teenager, she took a trip to New York with her friend’s mom, who is a muralist. She had the opportunity to work on a couple murals at the time, which sparked her drive to be creative.
“That’s really where I discovered my deep love and passion for art,” Sanchez said. “I really like the idea that art can be really whatever you want it to be. And you know, I can inspire people by doing art on their nails.”
Sanchez really only felt her calling when she was making art. When she graduated high school, she jumped straight into nail school and earned her manicure license instead of going to cosmetology school — which is the route most people take, Sanchez said.
Initially she was not able to find work due to COVID, but did find a place. Sanchez later left her former salon to start a mobile operation. Her clients still wanted her work, and she was more than happy to come out to them while remaining safe during the pandemic. In 2022, Sanchez opened her physical location at 1310 Mendota St. Suite 125.
On Nov. 13, Sanchez woke up to a string of missed calls. She was told about the fire that started at 4 a.m. and was finally put out at 8:30 later in the morning.
The fire has drained the entirety of Sanchez’s money and supplies to conduct her business. An investigation into the cause of the fire is still underway. She is unable to see what is salvageable until the investigation is over. Unfortunately, Sanchez had not renewed her insurance and everything that isn’t salvageable is lost.
Sanchez, luckily, was able to work out an agreement with her landlord to occupy a space further down the East Towne Office Center that was not affected by the fire.
Her arrangement is temporary for now, but she is eyeballing the possibility of making that location permanent to keep her in the same place for clients. She is currently reaching out to vendors to help with restocking supplies with the hope that they will be understanding of the situation.
“I kind of have two options — either sit there and be stuck, or now’s my chance to reach out to everyone and anyone I possibly know to see how people can help and see what I can do to move forward,” Sanchez said.The temporary set up for Graffiti Nails is located in the same strip as before but at 1320 Mendota St. Sanchez currently has a GoFundMe to help her fully set up shop again.