Germaine Monteiro

Germaine Monteiro
Co-founder of The Nail Social

When Germaine left school in Secondary Three to work at a nail salon, she knew that it would be a lifelong passion. The 29-year-old now combines two things she feels strongly for – nail design and helping single mums. Read her story below.

What inspired you to start The Nail Social?
Before The Nail Social, I was working at another nail salon with my current partner. She was my boss, so she was the one who taught me how to do nails, and I was working for her for seven years. And then I went on to do other things – I got married, moved to the US for two years [before] I came back. She [asked me if I] would like to join her and start a nail salon again. She told me we could [operate] it as a social enterprise and cited a few courses [where] we could help single mums, ex-cons, troubled teens and stuff like that. When she said single mums, it kind of struck a chord with me because my mum is a single parent, so it was kind of tough for her [when I was] growing up. There were a lot of things we could not have and it was difficult to kind of raise [my two siblings and me]. And there was not a lot of help out there for her, so my sister and I had to quit school and help out with the house. So that’s when I realised there is not much help in Singapore for single mums and so I wanted to [change that].

What are the challenges that single mums face when it comes to looking for a job?
You want to help people who want to help themselves [and] need something to hang on to [in order] to make themselves feel good. … I want to help someone who wants the help or needs the help. ‘Cos I think there aren’t many jobs out there that help single mums because … you need to pick up your kids [and] need to be flexible with time. And [some employers] are not open-minded.

What did you learn from them?
I really don’t know how they do it. … And some of them, really, wow their lives are … you know, it just makes me feel grateful that [we] have the things [we] have and [we’re] actually considered lucky in life. I mean, even though my mum struggled and I didn’t have the best of everything, I think there are people who are worse off than I was when I was younger. So I just feel bad. I’m just grateful for the life that I have.

On Germaine:
Cotton top, $225, Finders Keepers from Eclecticism + Lauren Jasmine
Diamante rings, $9 for two, Forever 21
Tassel skirt, Scotch & Soda
Tassel cord heels, $56.90, Charles & Keith

If you think Germaine is the most inspiring Change Maker, vote for her here.

Click here to view the profiles of the other girls who are making a change.

Stand a chance to win passes to the CLEO Change Makers Awards Party here.

Latest in Life