Headshot of Mercy Adekola ’25. She is wearing an orange, long-sleeved shirt under a white knitted sweater. There are pink cherry trees blurred in the background.

Mercy Adekola ’25 of Nails Have Mercy

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.

About the Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team

The Morehead-Cain Scholar Media Team is an extracurricular program and internship run by the Foundation’s marketing and communications team. Scholars of all class years collaborate to produce multimedia content for social media (Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, and X), the Catalyze podcast, email newsletters, and the website (www.moreheadcain.org). The team’s audience comprises more than 3,400 scholars and alumni.

The Scholar Media Team is led by Sarah O’Carroll, the content manager for Morehead-Cain. Participation is a semester-long commitment.