Our newest Nails of New York profiles our very own Jane Hong, Chief Executive Officer at Paintbox. Over the past nine months, Jane has lead our team to new heights, inspiring our talented artists and having meaningful interactions with every client she meets. A Princeton grad (as well as an MBA grad from MIT Sloan), Jane is as kind as she is whip-smart and ambitious–she has a decade of experience in strategy, retail, and finance at brands like Nike, Huge, Goldman Sachs, and 1stdibs. We couldn't be more proud to present her story. Find out her plans to take Paintbox to the next level, why she believes our 17 Crosby studio is the third space for women, and how she looks to manicures to add a playful pop of color to her chic style.
When do you notice your nails the most?
I notice my nails most when I'm typing, either on my computer or my phone. Basically, I notice them all day! We found a stat that the average smart phone user touches her phone more than 2,600 times in a given day. As depressing as that sounds, it's a reason to love your nails!
Any funny nail nostalgia moments?
When I was in middle school, I loved nothing more than collecting bottles of Hard Candy nail polish with the plastic rings around the top. I accumulated such a massive collection of polishes from that brand that I ended up constantly painting my friends' nails, always with an accent nail. My designs were less sophisticated than what we offer at Paintbox (think flowers, rainbows, and hearts), but it did make my home one of the most popular after-school hangout spots. Not too long ago I joined our apprentices practicing in the studio for fun and did a deep French tip rather successfully, according to our educator team, which made me think, 'I've still got it!' I must admit though that their compliments could in part be they were simply flattering me!
How do you use your nails as a form of self-expression?
My nails are the ultimate accessory for me. I generally wear simple jewelry, simple makeup and stick to neutrals, most of the time black. My choice in wardrobe allows me to be more playful and more colorful when it comes to the polishes I choose. And the fact that I change my mani every two weeks or so gives me the ability to experiment without the commitment of say, a tattoo!
Why are you passionate about the nail space?
Our employees and our clients keep me extremely excited and passionate about the nail space. For me, leading a team that is so talented in hospitality, artistry, and design keeps me motivated and coming back for more. It's easy to get out of bed every day when you know you're surrounded by the best of the best. Conversely, our clients who come to our space to celebrate their engagements, promotions, host their own clients or even forget a bad day that has transpired makes what we do so meaningful. There's a moment in every Paintbox mani where I hear women look at their hands and say, "this is bomb!," and that's a pretty good feeling.
In one word, how does a mani make you feel?
How do you pick your design and color combos?
I've come to learn a lot about my nails since joining Paintbox. The right length (I need to be able to type), the flattering lines for shorter, rounder nails, the colors that go best with my skin tone are all things I've gleaned from manicures with our talented artists. Within this framework I've set up for myself, I find a lot of inspiration from interior design. I formerly worked at 1stdibs and there, I was constantly surrounded by beautiful things. Whenever I pick up the latest issue of Architectural Digest, there are so many sophisticated color combinations from talented designers that inspire my next mani.
What are your go-to polish colors or brands?
I love Essie Gel Couture (the polish that truly lasts) and Floss Gloss (their colors are always on point). When it comes to gels, you can't go wrong with Presto metallics or Bioseaweed. My favorite colors include milky pinks, metallics, and pops of bright colors with nudes (think cream and cerulean blue, red, and camel).
Would love to hear about your journey to Paintbox.
I was on the supply side of the marketplace at 1stdibs. This entailed working with small business owners/antique dealers and makers all the time. I became so passionate after hearing about their craft and constantly was looking for a way to help them grow. When the opportunity to join Paintbox as CEO came about, it was the perfect union of helping a small business grow while being inspired by the artistry of our craft.
What are you most proud of at Paintbox?
I'm most proud of the team we've built here at Paintbox. My first nine months on the job focused on learning the landscape, identifying chronic and cultural pain points, and building an A+ team. When you're surrounded by positivity and have good leaders in place, as cliche as it sounds, the sky is the limit. I strongly believe our artists, our coordinators, and our corporate team have what it takes to take Paintbox to the next level and beyond.
What's your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is spending time in the studio. These days, it gets harder and harder to devote quality time to the floor as business demands are keeping me out of the office and at meetings more and more. That being said, there's nothing like being on the ground in the evening or on a beautiful Friday afternoon where clients are chatting, music is up, and colors are popping. The energy that our space delivers is unique, and it's what makes us the third space for women.
When do you get your best ideas?
I get my best ideas late at night. When my first job required me to be at the desk by 6 AM, I thought my internal clock would adjust. Over a decade later, I'm still a night owl.
What does the future of Paintbox look like to you?
I'm excited by the future of Paintbox. We're still going to do what we do best: providing a form of self-expression for our clients in an elevated space and style, but we're going to do it for more women both here in NYC and beyond and in ways that make sense to best scale the business. At the end of the day, we want to look at Paintbox and see a strong, beauty brand. What's most exciting about that is I can identify those roots in what we have today.