A: I’ve been a nail technician for 14 years. I started working in a salon in Manhattan – in Harlem, actually – which was owned by my sister’s friend. I loved working with nails, and one day hip hop singer Eve came into the salon to have her nails done. Eve was a friend of a friend, and she liked my work and started asking specifically for me to do her nails. Soon, I had the opportunity to do a photo shoot with her, and that was the first time I had my name published in a magazine as a manicurist. An agent approached me to represent me, and my career took off from there.
Q: How long have you been doing Minx?
A: I remember very clearly the first time I worked with Minx! It was in August 2008, and we were in trailers up in Harlem filming the videos for Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” and for “If I Were a Boy.” Beyoncé had worn Minx once before while out in California, and she loved it, but I had never heard of it. Beyoncé’s hairstylist, Kim Kimble, told me about it and I found the www.MinxNails.com Web site and tried to place an order for Golden Lightning, but there was no way it would arrive in time as it had to ship from the west coast. So, I called the Minx headquarters, and they had me call their New York PR person, Janice Miller. Janice came down to our set the same day and gave me some samples of the metallic Golden Lightning and Silver Lightning Minx, and that was it. I was totally hooked.
Since then, I’ve worked closely with the founders of Minx, and have designed exclusive Minx for Beyoncé, such holographic Minx that she wore the second night of her concert in Madison Square Garden this summer, and the silver “O-b-a-m-a” Minx she wore when she sang at the president’s inauguration. Incidentally, I was the person who originally designed the Obama portrait Minx – Beyoncé and Solange wore it, but then I applied it to Eve’s thumb for a Chanel event and People magazine featured it, so it became so popular that it’s now part of Minx’s standard product line.
Q: How did you get involved with this photo shoot for Vogue?
A: I was actually already on a shoot with Vogue that had been booked through my agent, and one of the stylists on that shoot shared with me some of her ideas for an upcoming shoot. She showed me a dress that she was going to feature, and I told her that I had nails that matched it perfectly. She said “what do you mean, they match perfectly?” and I walked her over to my book of Minx designs and pulled out a set of Minx with cheetah spots that matched beautifully with the Dolce Gabbana dress. She said it would be great if we could match all the dresses with the nails, and I told her that Minx could absolutely do that.
She was really excited, and at the next editor meeting she brought up this theme and editor-in-chief Anna Wintour gave the final approval on the project. Vogue called me and we got on the phone with Minx co-founders Janice Jordan and Dawn Lynch-Goodwin, and began the process of creating customized nails for about 30 different high-fashion ensembles.
Q: What was the process like to get customized Minx designs for the fashion spread in Vogue?
A: Well, first of all, we had to communicate very clearly because we had only a week to create a lot of nails! Minx explained the design process to Vogue so that they could start sending photos of the material they wanted Minx to match. At first, the Vogue interns would take a photo of the dress just sitting on a hanger, wrinkles and all, and it took a while before we started getting flat, clear, high resolution files of the exact portion of material that they wanted to match. There were so many designs! For each of the 30-plus ensembles, there were 3 or 4 different patterns that were targeted, and Minx created 4 to 5 variations of each of those different patterns. It was a huge effort on behalf of Minx to get that many custom nails created in time, and when the Minx was Fedexed overnight to the shoot in Manhattan, and Dawn actually flew in as well to help out with preparation.
The entire day before the shoot, Dawn and I applied various Minx designs to over 300 nail tips with double-sided tape to try to get a head-start.
Q: What was it like working with Vogue? What was it like on set during the photo shoot?
A: When I first got to the set, it was really an easygoing atmosphere as it was all about decisions and planning the two-day shoot. The photographer talked about his vision, and the stylist, makeup artist, hairstylist, and myself would all try to match up our work to his vision. And, the very first decision I made was to glue false tips onto the two models for the shoot, so all the nail tips we prepared the night before were not actually used! Anyway, I realized that using nail tips was the most practical way to ensure that I had the widest array of choices open to me, and yet could respond to the needs of the stylist at a moment’s notice.
As we were preparing the models, the stylist would bring out a dress and we would decide which one looked the best for each girl, what type of makeup she should wear, what hairstyle, and of course, which nails. Even though Minx had created customized nails for each outfit, there were still a lot of choices to make, as there were multiple patterns made from each dress and different sizes of those patterns. In addition, we had to choose whether we wanted a matte color finish of the design, a metallic finish, or if we wanted to use the translucent Minx that could be layered over a variety of backing colors. There were no easy decisions and I worked closely with the stylist to make the final selection and apply it to the model.
As the day progressed and we started running out of light (some of the shoots were outside on the sidewalk, and the studio itself had gates that could open up) the shoot became really, really rushed and hectic. The photographer would tell us he wanted to fit two more dresses in, but we only had 30 more minutes, so everyone really turned it up a notch! I couldn’t even sit at a desk… the model would run back from the finished shoot, and the stylist would be pulling her dress off and tugging another one on as I was pulling off her Minx and sealing a new set on. There was literally a period of four minutes where the dress was changed, the nails were changed, the shoes and accessories were grabbed and the hairstylist and makeup artist did their touch-ups. Those poor models were being pulled in all different directions… but I was right in the mix as there was no way I wasn’t going to get the nails changed!
During the shoot, there was more attention given to the nails than what is usual. Everyone was so excited and impressed by how the Minx matched perfectly, and if the models held their hands a certain way on the fabric, the nails would virtually “disappear” into the fabric of the dress. The stylist kept saying “Amazing! Amazing” throughout the shoot, and one of the models posted a photo of herself with her Minxed nails on her Facebook page, and wrote “Can you find my nails?”
Q: How do you think this Minx feature in Vogue affects the nail industry and the perception of nail art?
A: As you know, this is the second Minx feature in Vogue U.S., and Minx has also appeared in Vogue magazines in the UK, Italy, Germany, Japan and China. I believe this last year has been a benchmark for the nail industry, with Minx as the catalyst for propelling nails into the fashion spotlight. For a long time, nail technicians often took the backseat in fashion but we are becoming as relevant and as essential to fashion as shoes, clothes and bags.
Fashion is strongly influenced by celebrity, and I’ve seen a parallel trend with my celebrity clients that is tremendously exciting to me as a nail professional. Beyoncé was the first celebrity to wear Minx, and I was one of the only nail technicians around who could apply it, so it became necessary for me to travel with her. Shortly after her “Single Ladies” video, I flew to Bermuda with her where she performed in concert and had a House of Deréon photo shoot; I flew with her to Chicago where she wore Minx on Oprah, I flew with her to Los Angeles… My skill with Minx has elevated my status greatly, to the point where I’m one of the key contributors to her team.
Anything else to Add?
Most of the time, if not every single time, people who see my Minx book are completely awed by how many designs they see, and that’s really a good thing. They love taking the time to look through and make decisions about which Minx they want to wear, or which ones they want to mix and match. In fact, they usually take more time selecting the Minx than it takes me to apply it! Minx gives people the opportunity to be very creative and to work together with their manicurist to make a very unique and personalized look, and I really enjoy that interaction.