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TAFE NSW graduate breaks through beauty industry with thriving business


TAFE NSW graduate breaks through beauty industry with thriving business

NAILING IT: Emma Coillet can't believe her luck with the rapid success of her Mona Vale nail salon

In the notoriously competitive beauty industry, TAFE NSW graduate Emma Coillet is defying the odds with the rapid success of her leading Northern Beaches nail salon that taps into the niche nail artistry market just 2 years after completing her studies.

Despite the rising cost of living, Australians are spending more on beauty services with the nation’s nail industry worth $1.7bn in 2023.

The 25-year-old launched Studio M as a hobby while studying a Certificate III in Nail Technology at TAFE NSW Ultimo in 2021. She now employs two other full-time nail technicians and sees over 100 clients per week in her boutique Mona Vale salon, with a three-month-long waitlist.

“The business fell into my lap in a way I never imagined. I feel incredibly lucky to have found this extremely niche market on the Beaches, and to get to build a community through my business”, she says.

After starting her career as a travel agent, Emma decided to make the career change when COVID-19 hit.

“I was getting my nails done one day and thought, I could do this!”, she says.

“Before I started studying, I knew that I wanted to run a business, but I didn’t know that I could actually do it. I already had some management experience from previous jobs, so TAFE NSW gave me the industry knowledge and practical experience I was lacking and helped me realise that I wanted to specialise in nail art.”

Emma started her business by posting images of her nail art on social media during Sydney’s 2021 lockdown. Less than three months later, she had enough clients to work for her business full-time.

“Coming out of the lockdown, I think women wanted to treat themselves with little luxuries like getting their nails done. I just happened to start my business at the right time.

“I was in disbelief for a long time that the business was so successful. I think most people do nails as a side hustle, so I’m very lucky that I could work full-time almost straight after graduating.”

The number of young people starting small businesses is expected to grow, with McCrindle reporting that 86% of 18 to 24-year-olds dream of being entrepreneurs in some capacity.

TAFE NSW beauty teacher Emily Greco says young people are taking advantage of training courses that can help them make an income off their passion.

“We’re seeing more and more young people pursuing their interests and coming to TAFE NSW to study beauty courses with the intention of opening a business.

“The Certificate III in Nail Technology is designed to grow not only students’ practical skills, but also their ability to run a business in the industry. Students learn business skills that will serve them for life, like setting up an ABN, applying for a loan, budgeting, insurance, and marketing.”


Media contact: TAFE NSW Media Centre,, 02 7920 5000​​​​.