OPI Pro Spotlight: @nailsbyraven
This month we caught up with OPI nail boss Raven Billberry aka @nailsbyraven. She’s a mom of 3 boys, wife, and licensed nail professional based in Los Angeles, California. Beautiful nails are her passion, and she shared with us her inspirations, nail art tip and tricks, and what shade she’s most excited for from the Xbox Collection.
OPI: Where do you draw inspiration from for all the incredible nail art looks and techniques that you come up with?
R: To be completely honest, most of the looks I do come from my clients. They find a design that they like, then we collaborate on how to make it unique to them, as I don't like to completely duplicate another tech's art. From time to time I will browse the explore page on Instagram and screenshot looks that speak to me to reference later for myself.
OPI: You’ve worked with OPI as a writer in the past. What was your favorite part about working with our brand?
R: Ever since I was a little girl, I've loved to read, and I realized that writing was one of my gifts. I took creative writing classes in high school and college, and I used to write poetry. It has always been a dream of mine to be a published author. OPI made that dream come true for me! I am flattered that someone enjoyed my pieces enough to ask me back! LOL!
OPI: Which shade from our new Xbox Spring 22' collection are you most excited to try?
R: I love Trading Paint, as a bright orange always makes me happy! I love that kind of shade for Spring and Summer pedicures! Sage Simulation is really fun too!
OPI: We see that you have a strong love for your family. How do you make sure to keep a good work-life balance?
R: My family is my reason to keep going and stay positive in this crazy world! I gave my boys life, but they make my life meaningful! One of the reasons I chose to pursue a career in beauty would be the freedom and flexibility this industry affords me. I am so grateful and incredibly blessed to be able to work with incredible brands like OPI, and so many amazing people...all of my regular clients are like extended family at this point. I have a full roster of regular clients that are all very understanding and flexible. When I am sick, or if I'm going on vacation, or any time I need to take time off, they are more than understanding and accommodating. If any of them need a last-minute fix, or color change, I also do what I can to make it happen. It's reciprocity, they take care of me, I take care of them. When I'm well-rested, I'm recharged, and therefore able to be my best self, so I make sure to make that a priority.
OPI: What has been your favorite moment in your nail career thus far?
R: Ooh that's hard to nail down. (pun intended) I want to say the first time I got to do Kerry Washington's nails for OPI. I was extremely honored, and humbled when I was asked. I barely slept the night before because I was so nervous. Kerry was super nice! I ended up doing her nails a few times during the last season of Scandal, which was so cool! OPI is an icon, and any time I've been asked to represent the company, I do so with pride and honor.
OPI: You've worked on different film/tv sets, at events, and as a nail tech! Which do you prefer?
R: I love all of the facets of my profession, but working on set has always been a goal of mine. Why? Duh! ...Hollywood?! I'd have to say that working events are my favorite work setting. At an event, we get to meet so many different people and the unpredictability is exciting. One of the things that I love most about being a freelance nail tech is that my job is often an adventure. I have an idea of what the day might hold, but sometimes I am totally surprised and in awe!
OPI: What's your favorite nail art, tip, or trick?
R: A great base coat is a key to making your gel manicure last, and my go-to right now is OPI Stay Strong gel base coat. I love using it on clients who might have weaker nails that need a little more structure. I will do a double base coat of the Stay Strong prior to applying Gelcolor.
OPI: You are passionate about nail health! What tips do you have for those trying to help their nails grow stronger and healthier?
R: I always tell people that if you have a nail bed, I can help you to grow out your natural nails. Lol! It is important to stay hydrated, take hair. skin, and nail vitamins/supplements. Moisturize your cuticles daily -that's my favorite one! The lotion is cool, but you need an oil to really penetrate the skin. I tell my girls at minimum to use olive oil at night before bed. Don't tear or bite your cuticles. Cut any dead or hanging skin with a nipper or nail clipper. Stick with one nail tech....doing so ensures that your tech is able to build a bond with you, and can properly advise and maintain the health and beauty of your nails. DON'T PEEL YOUR GEL POLISH!!! I know it's hard not to sometimes, but it can be soooo damaging to your nail plate.
OPI: What are your next goals in the nail world?
R: I've been thinking about teaching, and possibly creating my own line of pedicure products. I've also been toying with the idea of opening my own salon. I believe that anything is possible...so, I'll just say, stay tuned!
OPI: What advice would you give new nail techs starting out in the industry?
R: Keep an open mind, and try to find a mentor. There are so many nail techs that I have learned so much from over the years. I'm ever grateful! Stay humble, and know your worth! Don't work for free unless you really want to! Give back when you can, as you never know what doors may open to you. I actually was brought into OPI after meeting someone who worked for the company at an event where I was volunteering.