It all started with a college class assignment. When tasked with creating a business plan, Candice Idehen dreamed up one for a nail salon — it turned out to be the genesis of her Harlem-based company, Bed of Nails. Here, the Tory Burch Fellows Finalist and Education Program participant shares the rewards and challenges of starting your own business — and why passion matters.

Most exciting part about owning your own business…
Being able to create and try new things every single day. Also, it feels good to know that you’re doing it for yourself, or doing it for your legacy, or doing it for your family — or that you’re doing it to create something different in the world.

And the most challenging…
Being young works as a pro and con. On the con side, I don’t really have management experience, so it’s difficult to manage people. It’s also difficult when you have the vision and you have to articulate it and get people to understand where we’re going and how we’re doing it. Getting through all the hurdles is challenging, but it inspires me and makes me want to go further. My mom says I’m hardheaded, but to be a great business owner you have to be hardheaded — you bump your head a lot, so you need the extra cushion!

My favorite beauty trend of the moment…
Nail art, because it’s like an accessory. Even if you’re not wearing jewelry, your hands still look amazing — and it can complement your outfit. I always say “Nails are the perfect accessory.”

When it comes to beauty, never underestimate the importance of…
Your nails being done. People notice your hands — whether you’re handing somebody something or just holding a glass during happy hour. Hands tell you a lot about people.

The mantra I live by…
Be inspired, always. I have used this to keep me in the game and focused on my goals. If you operate in the realm of inspiration, you will never lose heart and will always find ways to reinvent yourself, your plans and even others.

One thing I know now that I wish I knew starting out… 
That it would be as hard as it is! I remember having a conversation with Deborah Lippmann and she was like, “I told you, it’s going to be really difficult,” and I was like, “I don’t remember you telling me that!” I’m sure people did tell me, but I didn’t process it. I also didn’t know how hard it would be to manage people.

Ways that I embrace ambition… 
By being relentless. It’s important to have your goal in mind and go for it until you — and only you — are ready to stop. If you’re ambitious, then you really believe in what you’re doing, and that starts with you believing in yourself.

The Tory Burch Foundation Education Program has taught me to…
Create my core values and make sure I’m hiring for that. And one thing that we learned is, just because you’re qualified doesn’t mean you’re passionate — passion is what you want to look for in someone more so than qualifications, because you can qualify a passionate person but you can’t make an unpassionate person passionate. We also learned how to organize and create systems, and about the importance of delegating your time — because you can’t do everything.

My best advice for would-be entrepreneurs…
Make informed decisions. Look at what your mission, your values and your goals are to make sure your decisions align with them. Don’t just do something because you have to or because you’re desperate — there are always other options.

My dream project…
For Bed of Nails to be international. There are hands and feet all over the world!

As an entrepreneur, you should never be afraid of… 
Failing. If you can learn something from an experience, it’s not really a failure: it’s a test or a trial — it’s information. In life, you have to be prepared to fail, but you don’t have to keep that in the forefront of your mind. If it happens, but you still have a goal, you just keep going — you figure it out, you reinvent, you recreate.

Women entrepreneurs are…
Amazing. Resilient. Savvy.

My ambition is…
To be successful. Success for me is seeing my dreams come to life.

#EmbraceAmbition

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