Catching up with Dayton’s Alanna Wall: ‘Since we started Polished Girlz, so much has happened’

The nonprofit she started at age 10 helps hospitalized girls and those with special needs.

There are so many stories of young people doing great things in our community. One young Daytonian took her love of art to another level when, in 2011, she started “Polished Girlz,” at just 10 years old.

“We polish nails for girls who have special needs and are hospitalized and give them a chance to have a break and feel like a normal kid again,” said Alanna Wall, founder and CEO of Polished Girlz. “Since we started Polished Girlz, so much has happened.”

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Wall herself has grown into an accomplished young woman, graduating in 2018 from Stivers School for the Arts, where she specialized in music and violin. Last fall, she headed out west to attend the University of Southern California, where she is majoring in economics and international relations/global business.

And what began as a small organization with mostly Wall herself polishing nails of girls in Dayton has exploded and is now a presence across the country. With a mission to “bring sparkle” to the lives of girls with special needs or experiencing frequent hospitalization, Polished Girlz brings nail art parties to the girls, wherever they are.

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“I remember I would draw all the time when I was small and though I couldn’t paint very well, I found I could paint tiny pictures on my nails,” Wall said.

Wall appeared on the Disney Channel’s “Make Your Mark” special when she was 12 and shortly thereafter, the Ellen DeGeneres show came calling, launching Wall and her formerly small nonprofit into the spotlight and instant fame. DeGeneres presented Wall with a $10,000 check on the show to support her business.

“When the Ellen show aired, our website crashed three times because so many volunteers were trying to reach us,” Wall said. “That was really a great experience and so fun meeting Ellen!”

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Today, Polished Girlz has more than 900 people working with chapters in 32 states who have polished the nails of more than 18,000 girls. Wall and Polished Girlz have been honored with several awards over the years, including the United Way Volunteer of the month, the Kids Are Heroes award and a Nickelodeon Halo Award.

“I polish nails of models at New York Fashion Week now,” Wall said. “I’ve either gone myself or sent my team every year since I was 13 years old.”

Wall creates her own nail designs and teaches volunteers to polish and create the designs on nails as well. Each volunteer receives a kit that includes everything needed to start polishing and creating smiles.

Valerie Ragland, Wall’s mother, has supported her daughter in this effort from the beginning. In fact, Ragland was one of her daughter’s first nail models.

“My mom is a nurse and she told people she worked with about me,” Wall said. “But I was too young then to get into hospitals to paint nails because you had to be 15.”

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So, Wall started by polishing nails for organizations, like the Down Syndrome Association and the Mended Little Hearts. She would attend monthly meetings and polish nails of the children while their parents were meeting. Eventually, she took her services to Dayton Children’s.

“I remember hearing parents say how amazing this was,” Wall said. “They were surprised that I was so young but could still polish nails. Volunteers helped me so we could polish siblings of kids in the hospital so they would feel included.”

Wall knew from the onset that what she was doing was making a huge difference for girls who never left their hospital rooms or, in some cases, couldn’t even sit up in bed.

“It made me feel good to do this for these girls,” Wall said. “I just wanted to polish nails, but it was so exciting to see the kids smiling.”

Wall is looking toward the future and since Polished Girlz is still an all-volunteer organization, she wants to learn how to raise money so she can continue to fund the business. She also loves to travel and hopes to open chapters in other countries in the future.

“I’d like Polished Girlz to be a household name as big as the Girl Scouts,” Wall said. “I especially love when clients turn into volunteers and I really want to grow this as big as I can make it. It could really change the world and make a difference and that’s all I want.”

For more information about Polished Girlz or to volunteer, go to

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