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Budding beauty business begins in UAlbany student’s dorm room

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Palesa Graham sat at her desk in Dutch Quad sophomore year filing and shaping plastic nails to her own design. Six months later she turned her fun into funds, generating $25,000 in profit after launching her website in May 2018.

LéluxxBeauty, her press on nail company, formed out of a hobby and began with watching YouTube videos. Graham grew fascinated with how easy and convenient the idea of press on nails were and decided “I could probably do this myself.”

She wore her nails around campus and posted them avidly on social media, leading to other people’s interest in the press on nail phenomenon. After getting requests for customized nails, Graham chose to curate her own brand and website.

“I had only planned for 50 orders so that’s all I made. I launched on May 20th and ended up having triple the orders. I made $2,000 on launch day and was sold out in minutes,” said Graham.

Her unexpected website launch success was a turning point for LéluxxBeauty. Her nails began to reach a larger audience including YouTube makeup enthusiast Aaliyah Jay, Good Morning America, Essence and YouTube makeup enthusiast Arnell Armon. These features (under her old name BeautybyWOC) catapulted her following on social media and made her orders and customized requests skyrocket.

All customized sets are handmade by Graham at her desk at home, and are made to the customer’s requests. The nail sizes come in small, medium and large, with attached measurements, but the company also offers an option where customers can give exact nail measurements. The nail lengths range from short, medium and long and the shapes include the traditional coffin, stiletto, round, square and almond.

Anissa Williams, a junior at UAlbany is an avid buyer from the company. “As a college student I’m always finding ways to save money. Instead of going to a nail salon and spending $40 on nails that will fall off in two weeks, I buy from her. Almost all of her sets are under $25 and I can reuse them and get them customized as if I got them done in the actual salon,” said Williams.

While her success in press on nails hasn’t calmed down yet, Graham’s ultimate goal is to expand to a full beauty line. “My passion has always been makeup but the press on nails are helping me get my feet in the door because they’re different.” She plans on reaching 100,000 followers on all social media platforms and hopes to have spread to eyelashes and other beauty accessories before graduating in Spring 2020.

Post graduation she looks into moving to California and opening her own beauty bar or boutique. “I figured out how to run a business, make a website, fulfill and ship out orders all on my own. I’m a one-woman show. The possibilities for me now are endless,” she said.

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