Amplify Melanated Voices: Dawn Sterling
In an effort to continue to #AmplifyMelanatedVoices, we connected with nail artist and global traveler, Dawn Sterling @nailglam on Instagram. We asked her about her journey as a nail technician and got insight into what it takes to be an industry leader today. From business advice, to leading meaningful discussions, Dawn gives us her perspective on what it takes to create substantial changes for the future.
OPI: As one of our industry leaders, what challenges have you faced getting to where you are now, and what do you think the opportunities are for change?
DS: Honestly after I left the nail shops I did not face many challenges getting where I am, I literally put in a lot of work! I am truly blessed! I was educated by a fashion industry expert who let me know from the beginning this is an invited industry and that it matters what models you work with, what photographers you work with, and what glam team you work with to keep your name and work strong in this industry. I had a specific goal portfolio wise and it saved me a lot of headaches and heartache!!! I do know I am always one of the two people of color on set and that is something that I always push to change with bringing awareness to many of my producer friends who do the hiring by introducing them to many talented artists of color in the fashion/beauty industry.
OPI: What strengths do you feel the nail industry has in terms of diversity and inclusion?
DS: The nail industry has so much diversity in it now! I started doing only pedicures in the '90s at a very popular mom and pop shop called Nubian Nails in Brooklyn where I was the only nubian person there! So globally there are so many people from all different parts of the world that are able to provide and make a career from doing nails! In our top tier beauty industry, there are women of color killing it!
OPI: What role do you think YOU can play in opening doors for others?
DS: I have a company called NailGlamProductions. We are a concierge service company, and I hire all kinds of people for all kinds of things! I hire a lot of Black women who are talented and amazing! I teach them the politics of the industry and just get them in the door so they can meet the people who will eventually hire them and give them the opportunity to work on cover stories, celebrities, beauty and fashion campaigns.
OPI: What do you think nail color companies can do to lead the way for meaningful discussion and substantial change?
DS: Nail color companies should have some people of color in the corporate offices! They should have Black people on their board of directors. There should be people who understand skin tones and help create nudes that actually match all different types of melanated skin. Work with more black artists and include us in the creative direction process and contracting!
OPI: Share with us any people of color in our industry whose strengths and talent should be noticed - and tell us why - we’d love to spotlight them!
DS: @_luxk @tiny.luxury @_rachilla @thee1_n_only @candiceidehen These women really support me and each other. They have all saved the day for me, I adore them and they are extremely talented! They are all businesswomen with amazing art perspectives!