Beyond Your Ordinary Nail Salon: Tokara's Dream

From the outside, it may seem like any other nail salon. For Tokara, it’s a place of hope for other women’s futures.

The Milwaukee woman ran away from home as a teenager, fleeing all the way to New Orleans. After making a number of wrong choices, she realized she needed to face her mistake and head back up north. She gave birth to her son, and at that time, decided she would make something of her life so that other women would be motivated to follow her footsteps.

In 2011, she opened Lush Nail Salon.

In 2013, she became a licensed nail instructor.

The accomplishments kept coming.

Then Tokara faced one of her greatest losses.

Her cousin Carlotta Thomas battled sickle cell anemia. On November 8, she passed away. As someone who had backed Tokara’s dream with the utmost support, Carlotta now serves as a daily source of inspiration.

“Every day of her life she fought a debilitating blood disease, and most days she fought with a smile on her face, and hope in her heart. I wake up each morning knowing that I, much like her, can achieve anything through persistence.”

Tokara is driven to back the dreams of other young women. She says she doesn’t want to see them go down the same paths that she has. Her dream is to provide a franchise of training facilities that produce future professionals, who will then have a secure place of employment upon entering the workforce. She can then be confident that these professionals will go on to provide safe and sanitary services to their community members, continue their education, and provide a better quality of life for their families.

Because that’s the path she was able to follow.

”In the past, some of my greatest fears revolved around failure and lack of opportunities. Through hard work and education, I no longer fear either,” says Tokara.

Her only fear now is that she might not take full advantage of the opportunities she is given. Knowing how much Carlotta and others believed in her, Tokara will keep following her dream.

Back Tokara’s dream by lending to her on Kiva Zip.


Posted by Innae Park, Kiva Zip Marketing Intern

Apr 10, 2015

Innae has been an award-winning broadcast journalist for the most of the last decade and is seeking a different path for the next. She worked as a producer, reporter and anchor in two different television markets, engaging in local communities and encouraging small businesses to thrive. That passion linked her immediately with microfinance. She joined the Kiva Zip internship program with the intent of promoting this branch of finance with her storytelling and marketing skills. Though carrying an American passport, Innae calls Seoul home since she spent her adolescence at international school. She later received a degree in Communications at the University of Pennsylvania.


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