Hilary Herrera always knew she wanted to be a teacher. At a young age, she spent her free time pretending to take attendance and teach imaginary classes. What she didn’t know was she would grow up to be not only a teacher, but also a successful entrepreneur and business owner.
Herrera opened Lacquered Loft in Orem two years ago. After an influx of clients and change of location, the loft has blossomed into one of Utah County’s most popular boutique nail and lash salons.
Clients travel from all over to Herrera’s salon. Leslie Olsen, a long-standing client of nine years, drives from Mapleton, Utah, because she believes Herrera is the best at what she does.
“When you go to Hilary, you don’t ever have to go back for fixes,” Olsen said. “She does it right the first time.”
In addition to being a salon, Lacquered Loft also houses a place for students to become nail technicians. The salon is considered one of the most sought after places to learn the trade and find success in the industry, according to former students.
Herrera’s apprenticeship business model allows her students to receive quality personal education taught by her, along with practical, hands-on experience, according to Katelyn Enos, a current booth renter and former apprentice.
“An apprenticeship with Hilary is a great representation of what real life in this industry is like,” Enos said. “During my apprenticeship, Hilary would spend time after my one-on-one schooling talking to me and answering my questions.”
Herrera, a Salt Lake native and Brighton High School alumna, graduated from BYU with a degree in health education. She spent her free time attending nail school, which resulted in a profitable and flexible job as she furthered her education. She never thought working at a nail salon would turn into a full-time business.
“I never thought in the beginning that I would keep doing nails, as well as be able to harness my passion for education and teaching, and turn it into a full business with employees,” Herrera said.
When Herrera graduated from BYU, the flexibility of doing nails allowed her to spend time with her young family. It was a means of also supporting her family, as her husband, Quin, was still in school.
Upon graduation, she began instructing and realized she found her niche.
“I had a group of friends who told me to start instructing, and it clicked,” Hilary said. “I got my instructor’s license and started teaching.”
Hilary said she hasn’t looked back since. Although the business hasn’t been all bells and whistles, Lacquered Loft has become what it is because of trial and error, hard work and support of her family, according to Hilary.
“I have had to learn some things in business the hard way because I didn’t have a business degree,” Hilary said. “My husband has a business degree, and that’s the way I have made it. We have definitely had to go with it, and adjust our business model and make sacrifices. We’ve put in a lot of work over the years. 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. days were not unusual.”
Quin said his wife’s work ethic, attitude and demeanor played an integral role in the success of Lacquered Loft.
“Hilary has an amazing work ethic,” Quin said. “She puts in more time than anyone sees. She is constantly on the computer working on marketing or payroll. She has an attitude of pure gratitude. She is grateful for the opportunity she has been given, and for all those who have helped her. People love her. She just has this vibe and people want to be around her.”
Hilary strives to cultivate a work environment that is conducive to fruitful learning and friendship. She is in the business of making people happy.
“It’s all about the people,” Hilary said. “People matter. Relationships matter. Creating relationships is what is most important. If I can have a positive impact in someone’s day, I’ll come in at six in the morning if I have to.”
Hilary credits much of her success to her students and employees.
“The talent of the girls makes the loft what it is,” Hilary said. “I have been lucky enough to have the students I have had. Part of the reason why we expanded is that we ran out of space, and I wanted to have my students with me. (Lacquered Loft) has grown like crazy in two years, and it’s not because of me, it’s because of the girls.”
Her protégés credit their success to Hilary. Enos said she wouldn’t be where she is without Hilary’s guidance.
“Hilary taught me that if you put in the work, it pays off,” Enos said. “She has given me so much direction, and she genuinely wants what is best for you. We’ve become great friends through the process.”
Hilary is grateful for her education at BYU. Even though she didn’t pursue a career in health education, she said she believes her degree has been invaluable in pursuing her dream of teaching.
“Things are unexpected,” Hilary said. “This business came from an unexpected place. I respect and honor what I learned at the Y, and I could not have anticipated how much my time there would have helped and influenced my life. I am so grateful.”