Black History Month Nail Artist Spotlight: @lipstickmixtapes
In honor of Black History Month, we are celebrating four incredible industry innovators and sharing their stories. In this final edition of our series this month, we are highlighting @lipstickmixtapes. A lover of minimalist clean looks, Safia Pulliam is a nail artist who has worked in the industry for over 10 years. When she's not painting manis, you'll find her watching Golden Girls with her dog Pepei Louie.
Your nail art is amazing! What inspired you to become a nail tech?
I became a Nail Artist on accident when I went to Beauty school in Florida. I just wanted to learn makeup, but they offered a discount if I did the nail program so I signed up. I did nails for awhile in Florida but I ended up becoming a Makeup Artist. I moved to LA to pursue makeup but when I got here the makeup industry was very saturated so I decided to give nails another try. So many nail salons were hiring, so I figured I could get a job fast and did and here I am.
Did you have a role model when choosing this career path?
No, I didn’t have a role model.
What’s your favorite OPI shade?
My all-time favorite, hands down is Put it Neutral! Please don’t ever discontinue it.
We see you use the hashtag #blacknailtech in some of your Instagram posts. In the nail industry, where Black women are a part of the minority in terms of nail techs and salon owners, can you expand on what that hashtag means to you and your career?
At first, I didn't use the hashtag but as I started to get new clients that were black women and young girls they would say things like, “Oh my God I’ve been looking for a Black Nail Tech” or “I’ve never seen a black girl doing nails before” or “finally someone who can understand me and what I want on my nails”. These Black Women would be so happy to see me and then when they realized I was good they were like finally, I’ve found my girl. It’s been a real honor to be able to provide nail services to women who haven’t always felt heard or seen in this space. It makes me want to create more opportunities for black women to feel a sense of community in the beauty and wellness space. We share a lot during these nail appointments so I feel a responsibility to let them know I see you, I hear you and I’m here for you.
What is the most exciting part of your job?
The most exciting part for me is creating art and seeing what I can do with different nail systems and polishes. I love being an artist and creating something beautiful and cool that goes out into the world. These women are trusting me with a form of their self-expression so to bring that to life is exciting.
Do you have any career advice for aspiring nail techs?
My advice for aspiring nail techs is to discover what you do best and make that your thing. I think a lot of times we want to be great at everything and when we’re not we get down on ourselves. We start comparing and end up becoming jealous or whatever and that’s just unnecessary. Figure out what you do best and kill it every time. 2nd career advice is to explore other art mediums for inspiration and discovery. When I’m feeling in a rut I’ll go to museums, botanical gardens, art galleries or start painting on my own to get another appreciation and sensation for artistry.
What's your favorite nail system to work with and why? Do you have any tips for using this system?
Right now my favorite system is Gel X! It’s a simple but smart idea for us as the nail tech and the client. #1 there’s no chemicals and minimal dust which are important to me for my health. #2 the client can have beautiful extension nails in an hour. More and more consumers want things that are quick, efficient and reliable and I believe Gel X is that new wave. My tips for using this system like any other nail service is proper nail prep. Make sure nails and cuticles are clean and ready for product adhesion so clients get at least 3 weeks out of their nail service.
Thanks for following along as we celebrated Black History Month! We highlighted nail artists and nail salons that are innovators in the industry, be sure to check out additional blogs from the series!