The PD Women In Business Series is an interview-style blog series on the Pangea Dreams blog that highlights female entrepreneurs who have joined us on Retreats over the past several years. In this series, we will get to know these Alumni better and learn about the incredible businesses that they are running.


  • Current Position: Founder & CEO, Masterclass Nail Academy
  • Currently Living: New York City
  • Hometown: Mentor, Ohio 

Hey Julie! We are so excited to have you featured on this series! Can you tell our community a little background about you and how you got into the nail business?

I’ve always been creative and obsessed with miniatures. When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I went on a field trip to a cosmetology school. One of the students had her Caboodles makeup case out with a ton of teeny gold nail charms and striping tape. I was hooked immediately. After that I started cosmetology school at 15 and began doing nails in a salon when I was 18, just after I got my license.

I spent 10 years at that salon before deciding to move to NYC in 2010 to do nails for celebrities, fashion week and ad campaigns.

Julie Kandalec of Masterclass Nail Academy
An Elle cover featuring nails by Julie.

At what point did you decide to start Masterclass Nail Academy? 

Starting Masterclass Nail Academy happened at the merge of chance and opportunity. I was in the Maldives and was desperate for a pedicure. I went to the 5-star resort’s spa and sadly, my $100 pedicure was not up to par. My poor technician looked as if she had never polished nails before! Instead of complaining, I asked to speak with the manager and explained that I did and taught nails in NYC and that I would love to teach her technicians a class in exchange for nothing more than a written testimonial.

In my extensive travels and further research, I knew this wasn’t an isolated experience. Resort spa employees perform not one specialty but several categories of services: like esthetics, massage and nail services. Nails frequently lags behind in education and therefore, skill. Additionally, I saw how all resorts would benefit from learning time-saving techniques and current trends to offer their clients. 

So I decided to launch Masterclass Nail Academy to offer education to salons and schools, with a focus on hotels and resorts globally. Not only do clients have a better experience, but technicians are also able to support their families better. It’s a total win/win! 

Julie Kandalec of Masterclass Nail Academy
Julie and her Masterclass Nail Academy students in Honolulu, Hawaii

Have you always been entrepreneurial? What led you to take that first step and setting up your own business?

Yes, I feel like I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I just like to keep moving and to create new ideas! But it’s not to say someone has to be born an entrepreneur – it can absolutely happen later in life too.

If any, what challenges have you experienced as a woman in business during your overall career?

For me, simply knowing what I need help with is a challenge! Starting out, you need help with everything. For example, sometimes I know I need help in my business, but I can’t verbalize what it is because how do you know what you don’t know? Do I need an intern? An editor? A clone? I wish there was an entrepreneur quiz that told you “if you need this done, hire this person”! It would save so many startups! 

Where would you say your business was at before the Pangea Dreams Tulum Retreat 2017 and where would you say your business was after?

Beforehand, MNA didn’t exist at all and I was just days away from launching my beauty and travel blog, Julie Off Duty. After my PD Tulum retreat, I was significantly more knowledgeable about partnerships, making my press kit, and had all the content I needed to jump-start my brand (not to mention the support team by the rest of the other ladies)! It’s invaluable and am looking forward to my second alumni retreat in January 2020.  

Julie Kandalec of Masterclass Nail Academy
Julie in Costa Rica on the Pangea Dreams Alumni Retreat 2019!

What is one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs just starting out in their journey?

Don’t focus on your brand name and signature colors and the “fun” stuff first. Focus instead on what your overall goal will be and do something every single day that gets you closer to it. Before you make a business-related decision, ask yourself, will this get me closer to my goal? If the answer is yes, it’s the right step. 

How can someone get in touch with you?

Email: (beauty/travel) or (education)
Personal IG: @julieknailsnyc
Business IG: @masterclassnailacademy
Website: and 

To check out Julie’s body of nail work, you can also check out her portfolio here: 🙂

Thank you, Julie!

Julie is a Tulum Retreat 2017 Alumna and has also attended the Pangea Dreams Alumni Retreat in Costa Rica, and will also be joining the 2020 Alumni Retreat in Palm, Springs California!