Amy Ling Lin Created Meditative Manicure, Drawing Inspirations From Her Chinese Heritage’s Emphasis on Holistic Wellness.
Amy Ling Lin’s father always wanted her to become a lawyer to help others. As a first-generation daughter of Chinese parents, Lin did just that, but in her own unique way. After completing her MBA at Columbia Business School, Lin opened a nail studio called Sundays. Her goal was to provide the best working conditions for immigrants, who make up the majority of salon employees in the U.S. Inspired by her Chinese heritage and a focus on nature and holistic experiences, Lin revolutionized the industry with her “meditative manicure” concept. This innovative nail wellness service allows guests to listen to guided meditation while getting their nails tended to with Lin’s non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free products.
“Nail care is so much more than just painting your nails, as it can be a way of balancing the body and mind,” says Lin. “When you get your nails done you can listen to a guided meditation recording, so that you can look good and feel good.”
Since launching Sundays in 2017, Lin worked with her nail technicians and a chemist for over a year to create safe nail products that promote healthy nails. The result is Sundays’ non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free nail polishes, which are made in New York, and feature over 60 stunning shades that promise a gorgeous shine and long-lasting color. Her wellness collection also extends to candles, hand creams, cuticle oils, and a soy nail polish remover that recently won Allure magazine’s “Best of Beauty Award.”
It’s no surprise that Sundays has received praise from the New York Times as a place for a “full-on self-care session.” Vogue magazine has also raved about Sundays being “the first 100% vegan salon,” and Forbes summed it up perfectly, “Sundays isn’t just a nail salon, but an entire wellness brand.”
I had the pleasure of meeting Lin at her busy Nomad studio. The soft afternoon sun illuminated the minimalist yet chic space, evoking a cozy atmosphere. Lin, a pretty brunette with sparkling eyes and a warm smile welcomed my first visit. I indulged in the Rose Extract Anti-Aging Manicure Hydrating Hand Treatment, which included soaking my hands in a luxurious blend of coconut milk infused with rose petals, followed by an aromatherapy massage and a manicure while listening to guided meditation. Lin checked on the color I chose and spoke in a soft voice, reflecting the calmness in the room. After my treatment, there was an affirmation card to keep, and a note to write myself a letter which the studio would send to me later. Notably, the nail polish was flawless for over two weeks, much longer than all my prior manicures, despite my constant handwashing. Lin has truly created a sublime manicure experience centered around self-care, exceeding all my expectations– and I can’t wait to return.
We speak with Lin about Sundays’ ethos, how her proud Chinese heritage has helped shape her flourishing wellness business, the uniqueness of her three studios, and what’s ahead for Sundays. Please see our conversation below.
Please tell us the guiding principles of Sundays studio.
Sundays is a wellness-inspired nail-care brand. We offer non-toxic products and services
with mindful experiences, such as our signature meditation-manicure to make all our
customers look good and feel good too. I created this brand with a simple but important message in mind, “We don’t have to sacrifice health for beauty, because all of us are beautiful in our own ways.”
How has your Chinese heritage influence your perspectives on self-care?
I am proud of my Chinese heritage and how it has influenced the definition of self-care that I used while creating Sundays studio. I have enjoyed showcasing Asian traditions with a modern twist by using nontoxic products and holistic experiences that naturally enhance our well-being. Nail care is so much more than just painting your nails, as it can be a way of balancing the body and mind and creating healthy rituals along the way. We are the first nail salon to offer a meditative manicure to guests because self-care and wellness go hand in hand together.
What is the experience you would like guests have at Sundays studio?
We change the hustle and bustle of a typical nail salon setting to a relaxing ‘Hygge’ environment. No more bright surgical lights, loud drying fans, and noxious fumes. Instead, at Sundays studio, guests are welcomed to a serene place where they can have a moment of relaxation. We created meditative manicures, when you get your nails done you can listen to a guided meditation recording, so that you can look good and feel good. At the end of the service, we hand out affirmation cards to clients to inspire and empower them to feel good about themselves because we believe that beauty comes from within, and we are all beautiful in our own way.
What were some challenges you encountered when starting your company?
In 2017, I started Sundays, and the past six years of running my own business have taught me so much about myself. I asked, “How would I want to be treated if I was an employee or a customer?” This question helped me create an environment that I would want to be in; one that has a great culture and where both guests and specialists are happy in the salon.
Moreover, launching Sundays forced me to become flexible. As the person in charge of a plan or direction, outcomes vary– sometimes it succeeds, and sometimes it doesn’t. Regardless, I am the one responsible for it. Much like raising children, you cannot predict exactly how they’ll turn out, but you can influence their growth and development by dedicating your time and efforts towards instilling the right values and guiding them on the best possible path. Along the way, you get to relish the journey of self-discovery involved in this process.
How did your Chinese upbringing shape your destiny?
My father wanted me to become an immigration lawyer, as he has been through a tough life here. I never wanted to become a lawyer, but I still wanted to help immigrants. When I began working in a nail salon business more than 10 years ago, I thought that this is perfect for what I want to do. I love the fact that I work with immigrants who make up a majority of salon employees in the U.S.
It is very easy to get caught up by the “should,” “could,” and question if your dreams are good enough. I sold my nail business, and then I went to Columbia Business School for an MBA. If I wanted to utilize the master’s degree and make my immigrant parents proud, it felt like the only choice was to get a job working at a big corporation. Instead, I went ahead and opened a nail salon called Sunday studio. Sometimes your dream doesn’t look like others, and other people might not understand, but you know it is for you because every day you will feel happy and excited to go to work.
Who has the most influence on your life, and how?
My mom’s mom has influenced my life by giving me her strength and willpower. My grandma is 86 now, and she grew up in a small town in China where she had a traditional life. She is such a little lady but has so much strength– something she had gained from doing the work of raising five children. When my grandpa died at 67, she continued her life– taking cooking classes, dance classes, and making new friends. She has shown me that at any time, no matter what age you are, you can do anything if you set your mind to it. There’s no such thing as being too old to do certain things. Whenever I go through difficult times, I think of her.
What exciting plans can we expect from Sundays in 2024?
Opening more locations! My goal is to make nail care part of self-care. With new Sundays studio locations, we can make non-toxic self-care experiences and products more accessible to our new and returning members of the Sundays community.
You have three beautiful nail studios in New York City. How are they unique from the other?
NoMad was the first Sundays studio, and it is tucked into the Flatiron District near the picturesque Madison Square Park. What makes this location unique is that our guided meditation and manicure service was born here!
Our intimate NoMad location is truly perfect for a moment of relaxation in this busy city.
The second Sundays studio is on the third floor of the Hudson Yards shopping center. What makes this location unique is that we offer studio rentals and host community events here. We are very lucky to have such a large, welcoming space to invite our community!
The third Sundays studio is located in Sage + Sound, on the Upper East Side. We are happy to call this our new home. What makes this location unique is the collaboration between Sage + Sound and Sundays studio allows you to engage in several wellness and self-care practices without the hassle of moving from place to place.
What is the life advice that you strongly believe in and live by.
My advice is to stay true to yourself and what you believe in. I never jump on trends or do what everyone else is doing. I had a vision to make the nail care industry greener and inspire people to live a more conscious and healthy lifestyle. I have stuck by this vision and maintained intentionality in everything, bringing me back to ‘why I started sundays’ and my belief that we never have to sacrifice our health for beauty because we are all beautiful in our own way.