Morehead-Cain Self-Starter Series: Mercy Adekola ’25 of Nails Have Mercy on building a support system for your business
Written by Sarah Chocron ’25, Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team member
The perfect manicure can break the bank, especially on a college budget. One Morehead-Cain Scholar is making nail art a more accessible luxury at UNC–Chapel Hill.
This spring, Mercy Adekola ’25 started Nails Have Mercy, an affordable Gel-X nail business that caters to the budgets and tastes of college students at Carolina.
“It began, genuinely, by just practicing doing nails on myself,” the first-year scholar says. “I wasn’t the best at nails when I began, but I continued to practice and elevate my nail shapes and designs until I was comfortable enough to do it on others.”
In her academic life, Mercy is studying environmental health science through the UNC Gillings School of Public Health. The idea for the venture came out of her desire for a creative outlet.
“I like creative, self-expressive nails that connect to the person wearing them, which is why I started doing my own,” says the founder, who graduated from Farmington High School in Farmington, Connecticut.
Although Mercy initially had apprehensions about starting her own business, the Morehead-Cain community was there to support her, she says, as well as to help her find resources.
“My greatest challenge was overcoming my fear and deciding to jump into it,” she says.
She collaborated with her classmates Mercy Godspower Lawal ’25 and Molade Otusheso (UNC–Chapel Hill ’25) to turn the idea into reality, from thinking of the name to creating a logo and an Instagram marketing strategy.
Getting friends and peers involved from the get-go is crucial to success, according to the aspiring entrepreneur.
“A good support system builds confidence and reminds you that you aren’t alone in whatever it is you’re doing,” she says.
Managing Nails Have Mercy has shown the scholar that authentic passion and hard work can overcome anxieties about failure, and that it’s often from a place of vulnerability that finding deep connections is possible. Although nail art is time consuming, being able to express herself artistically and connect with others makes the effort worth it.
To book an appointment with Mercy, you can DM her on Instagram at @nailshavemercy.
More about the Self-Starter Series
The Morehead-Cain Self-Starter Series highlights scholars and alumni who took the initiative to fill gaps within their communities.
Rather than focusing on “success” alone, Sarah Chocron ’25 and Ria Patel ’25 dive into the conversations, connections, and networks that got these self-starters to where they are today. The series is inspired by the self-discovery Sarah and Ria experienced in starting their own pop-up coffee shop on campus, Griatitude Coffee Co.
Stay tuned to learn more about these Morehead-Cains—not just what they built, but how they built it.
About the author
Sarah Chocron ’25 of Wichita, Kansas, is a writer, freelance web designer, and musician. On the Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team, Sarah covers the selections and alumni beats, with a focus on the first-year scholar community.
The first-year scholar graduated in spring 2021 from Wichita Collegiate School, where she served as editor-in-chief of her school’s literary magazine and led programming and marketing for the robotics team.
Sarah and Ria Patel ’25 are the co-founders of Griatitude Coffee co., a pop-up coffee shop with affordable specialty drinks for students in the Chapel Hill area. She plans to pursue a double major in information science and history with a minor in cognitive science.